Book Types

Since my posts this week have been very book themed, I’ve decided to write up a post about book types. When you think of book types, I’m sure you’re thinking along the lines of genre but what I’m actually talking about are book format types. I’ll talk about physical books as well as ebooks.

When it comes to physical books, there are two main types:

  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Hardcovers are exactly the way they sound. The book has a hard backing. Paperbacks have a soft backing. It makes them more flexible in the hand. When you sit hardcover down open, it will stay open. Paperbacks don’t do the same thing. You usually have to hold them the whole time or use a book clip or stand.

Within the two main types you have sub types:

  • Sleeved hardcover
  • Embossed hardcover
  • Trade paperback
  • Mass market paperback

A sleeved hardcover is a hardback book with the cover design on a sleeve instead of the actual book itself. You can take the paper sleeve off while reading it to keep it nice or if you loan it to people and are afraid they’ll ruin it. An embossed hardcover has the cover design embedded on the book lining itself. The process involves many sheets of paper and a cast mold of the design being pressed into the book. Hardcover books are already pretty expensive but between these two, the embossed hardcover is definitely a few dollars more than your regular hardcover. Check out the differences below:

Left is embossed; Right is sleeved

A trade paperback is a large, softcover book. It is not to be confused with a large print book because the print size is about the same as your average paperback it just has a bigger binding. A mass market paperback is a small softcover book and it’s usually thicker in comparison to your trade paperback. Trade paperbacks are about double the cost of mass market paperbacks because they are considered high quality. Most indie authors, who aren’t strictly ebook sellers, sell their paper books as trade paperbacks. Check out the differences below:

Left is trade; Right is mass market

Now when you get into ebooks, there are three main formats that people use:

  • .epub
  • .azw
  • .mobi

EPUB is the most common. You can buy or upload epubs to a lot of different platforms. There’s Google Play Books, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Adobe Digital Edtions and plenty of other third party apps that can read epub.

AZW is the second most common because it is the proprietary ebook format used exclusively by Amazon. If you use a Kindle or the Kindle app, your ebooks are this format. The upside to using Amazon is that it is the number one book platform used by all types of authors whether traditional, indie or your neighbor next door. Anyone can upload a book. The downside is that you can’t use .azw with any other app.

MOBI is a lesser known book format that is used but its still regarded as a favorite book format. A .mobi book can handle more rich and more advanced book content than the other two.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the different apps I use:

They all essentially try to give you the bookshelf look within the app. You also have the ability to use bookmarks, highlight passages and there’s a dictionary ready to use if you want to know the definition of a word. Some of these apps even have a read aloud feature. It’s not the same as an audiobook, because the voice is very robotic, but it’s nice to have if you need it.

What do you think of all these book formats? Which ones do your primarily go for? Which reading apps do you primarily use? Let me know in the comments below!


22 thoughts on “Book Types

  1. A few years ago, I decided that working at Books-A-Million would be a cool writer type thing to do. I didn’t realize all of the book types and why they are released at certain times. I understood that novels are often turned to movies but did not realize that movies are turned into novels if they are a blockbuster. It was during the time the Sookie Stackhouse True Blood and the Twilight series were popular. It was also the first year that BAM sold the Barnes and Noble Nook which I knew nothing about. Thanks for the reminder and great info.


    1. You’re welcome and thanks for sharing! I’ve never worked in a book store but the first e-reader I had was made by Sony, long time ago, and that’s how I discovered ebooks and their formats. Then when that branch of Sony went under, I got a Nook Color. ๐Ÿ˜Š


  2. I primarily go for paperbacks due to the space issue lol But as for hardcovers, I am really fastidious about the binding, too. I absolutely go for tight-back bindings, i hate hollow-back bindings. The problem is, most of the hardbacks I own are hollow-back bindings… ugh…
    As for e-books, I use iBooks on my iPhone or Kindle, so either epub and mobi ๐Ÿ™‚
    Great post, Nel!


    1. I saved you from spam! Stupid blocker! I go for whatever I can get my hands on especially at library sales. I’m going to one in two weeks. Maybe I’ll take pictures and make a post about it so you can see what that’s like :). I don’t think I’ve owned a hollow back binding before. That’s so weird. Thanks! I’m glad you liked the post!


      1. Oh, I see! That is why my comments didn’t appeared in the comment section. Sorry, I must have posted two comments lol
        It is interesting that you have library sales over there! We don’t. I have never heard of library sales as far as I’m concerned. Besides, we don’t have as many English books especially contemporary books, we only have Classics! Jealous!


        1. Really?? Do you know why perhaps? Library sales are so awesome! For one yen (I had to look up the conversion) you could get a lot at a library sale! They usually sell books for like 2 hardbacks for $1.50! And they’re gently used if used at all cause they’ve been in the library. The Burn for Me paperback was 10 cents at a library sale!


  3. I love all forms of books! One pointer when it comes to ebooks… It frosts my feathers when I buy an .epub book and then want to read it on a kindle. I paid for that book damn it! Now I have to buy it again to read it on the device of my choice? I think not! Check out Here you can magically transform one book type to another. Most ebook formats are supported and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this program. It won’t work for DRM protected books, but everything else is easy breezy.


    1. Yes! I didn’t want to get into too much detail cause some would view that as technologically advanced but I use Calibre to change book covers cause I’m OCD about how book covers look. The DRM portion of your piece is one of the reasons I stick to epub. There are plenty of sites dedicated to selling DRM free books. And actually, Amazon is coming up in the world and has plans to, maybe already has, given users the ability to upload DRM free epubs.


      1. I’m an .epub fan myself, but I do have a fair number of .azw and .mobi files as backups. I never want to be without a book no matter what device I’m using! I’m glad to hear about the Amazon thing.


  4. Educated! I didn’t know about the mass market and trade books. I guess I’d never wondered why books came in different sizes since people (as well as everything) came in different sizes too. Makes sense ๐Ÿ˜Š


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