A paperback (also known as softback or softcover) is a type of book characterized by a thick paper or paperboard cover, and often held together with glue rather than stitches or staples. In contrast, hardcover or hardback books are bound with cardboard covered with cloth; although more expensive, hardbacks are more durable. Inexpensive books bound in paper have existed since at least the 19th century in such forms as pamphlets, yellowbacks, dime novels and airport novels. Most modern paperbacks are either "mass-market paperbacks" or "trade paperbacks".
Paperback editions of books are issued when a publisher decides to release a book in a low-cost format. Cheap paper, glued bindings, and the lack of a hard cover contribute to the inherent low cost of paperbacks. Paperbacks can be the preferred medium when a book is not expected to be a major seller, or in other situations where the publisher wishes to release a book without putting forth a large investment. Examples include many novels, and newer editions or reprintings of older books.
Since hardcovers tend to have a larger profit margin, publishers must balance the profit to be made by selling fewer hardcovers against the potential profit to be made by selling many paperbacks with a smaller profit per unit. First editions of many modern books, especially genre fiction, are issued in paperback. Best-selling books, on the other hand, may maintain sales in hardcover for an extended period in order to reap the greater profits that the hardcovers provide.
Famous quotes containing the word paperback:
“Ive come to think of Europe as a hardcover book, America as the paperback version.”
—Don Delillo (b. 1926)