Understanding the Different Styles of Hardcover Books
For many years, the hardback has been seen as a mark of quality, showing readers, reviewers, and booksellers that your book is worthy of attention. Hardcover books are also more durable, larger, and easier to display on shelves.
If you’re interested in printing your book in hardback, we at Palmetto Publishing are here to help. We offer book layout, book design, printing, marketing, and more.
However, before you print your hardcover book, you need to understand the different hardcover and binding styles available. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each type. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear idea of which hardcover style is best for your book.
Types of Hardcovers
Let’s begin by taking a look at the different kinds of hardcovers.
What is Case Laminate?
Case laminate books are hardcovers that don’t have dust jackets. Instead, the art and text are directly printed onto the cover. Pages of case laminate books are glued to the hardcover at the ends.
- Fully customizable
- Not as unique as some of the other choices on this list
What is a Dust Jacket?
Also known as a dust wrapper or book jacket, a dust jacket is a printed protective cover that wraps around a hardcover book. Like covers, they contain information about the book, including additional promotional information such as:
- A summary of the book’s content
- A short bio of the author
- Snippets of glowing reviews
The purpose of a dust jacket is to keep dust off your book cover. It also protects your hardback from spills, scratches, and grime.
Dust jackets aren’t permanently attached to their books — they’re held in place by flaps that fold around the back and front covers of your book. As such, they can easily be removed or attached to a book.
- Keeps the cover fresh and clean
- Great for collectors
- Great for literary and collector’s edition books
- Dust jacket flaps can be used as bookmarks
- Covers can easily fall off, rip, and get lost
- More expensive to create than other types of hardcover books
What is a Jacketed Case Laminate?
As its name suggests, a jacketed case laminate book is a case laminate with a dust jacket.
Traditionally, Palmetto only offered single-color book cloth cover options for jacketed hardcovers. But now, you can upload cover art for the interior cover. This way, your book will still have an eye-catching cover even without the jacket.
- Jackets can make your book feel more distinguished
- A great pick for literary books (i.e., think Philip Roth or Don DeLillo) since that’s what readers generally expect
- You can choose to print your cover on the book as well as on the jacket
- You can use your own font for the spine
- Jackets may easily get damaged
- More expensive than case laminate hardcover
What is a Digital Cloth™ Cover?
Palmetto’s printing partner also offers Digital Cloth™ covers with linen-textured lamination. These covers use digital images to mirror the look of a book cloth.
Digital Cloth™ books are available with or without dust jackets. They’re a good pick for literary or collector’s edition books.
- Subtle, cloth-like look
- Available for hardcovers with or without dust jackets
- Great for literary or collector’s edition books
- Looks relatively non-descript
- Only available for hardcover books printed in the U.S. and U.K.
Now let’s take a look at the binding styles we offer.
What is Adhesive Case Binding?
When looking up options for your hardcover book, you’ve probably come across the phrase “adhesive case binding.” Although it sounds like a hardcover style, adhesive case binding actually refers to a binding option for your book.
Adhesive case binding is the hardcover version of perfect binding. It’s a common technique for books, magazines, catalogs, and journals throughout the publishing world.
As in case laminate books, pages in adhesive case bound books are attached with PUR glue. However, the pages aren’t glued to the hardcover at the ends; instead, they’re glued at the spine. The spine is also a part of the front cover — printers bend the front cover to create the spine. Because there’s no seam between the spine and the front cover, adhesive case binding is a great choice for wrap-around covers.
- Extremely customizable
- Durable, since PUR glue strengths the bonding of the pages to the spine
- An excellent fit for wrap-around covers
- Cost-effective hardcover book printing costs
- Stiff spine
- Binding doesn’t allow books to lay flat
In this binding method, bundles of pages called signatures are sewn together. The signatures are then sewn together using binder thread.
- Great for frequently used books
- Less stiff binding
- More expensive
An alternative to adhesive casebound, layflat books lay completely flat. As such, images can be printed across both halves of the spread with only a subtle fold down the middle.
- Great for landscape books that display panoramas
- Much easier to flip through than adhesive casebound books, since they lay flat and won’t spring back closed
- Takes a longer time to print
- More expensive, since layflat books require special equipment to print
Finally, we offer Wire-O binding. Also known as Double-O, Twin Loop, and Duo-Wire, Wire-O is a popular way to bind pages of documents.
Wire-O binding looks a lot like spiral coil binding but is more sophisticated and durable. It can accommodate inserts and pages of various thicknesses, including plastic and heavy cardstock index tabs and dividers.
- Pages turn easily and lay flat
- Excellent choice for cookbooks, directories, travel guides, calendars, instructional books, and music books
- Accommodates high or low page counts
- Faster to create
- Pages have holes in them
- Wires will crush under pressure
- Can’t re-use wires if the book is unbound
Which is the Best Hardcover Type for your Book?
To determine which hardcover and binding type are best for your book, you need to ask yourself:
- What your budget is: If you have a limited budget for printing books, consider getting a case laminate or a jacket-less Digital Cloth™ book. Books with jackets tend to be more expensive than “bare” hardcover books.
- How you’d like your book to look like: If you’re not too picky about your book’s cover or you prefer a more minimalistic feel, consider printing your book in Digital Cloth™. However, if you’ve already commissioned or created the cover art for your book, case laminate or jacketed case laminate would be better choices.
- Your target audience: Finally, you should consider who will buy your book. If you’re creating one-of-a-kind books for collectors, consider printing a layflat or smyth-sewn book with a dust jacket or as a Digital Cloth™ book. Digital Cloth™ and dust covers are also great picks for literary books.
- On the other hand, if you’re writing highly descriptive genre fiction — such as fantasy, Young Adult (YA), or sci-fi — jacketed case laminate or case laminate covers are probably your best options. These genres are highly visual, so jacketed case laminate or case laminate covers are a great way to attract audiences.
You also need to keep in mind that not all hardcover and binding styles are available on demand. For instance, only adhesive casebound, smyth-sewn, and lay flat books have the following options:
- Printed Laminated case (with or without dustjacket)
- Matte, gloss, and soft-touch matte lamination options on the cover and dust jacket
- Spot UV treatment
- Cloth (with or without dustjacket and with or without gold/silver or other foil stamps)
- Matte, gloss, or soft-touch matte lamination options on the cover and dustjacket (spot UV is also possible)
- Embossed dust jacket
- Digital Cloth™
- Three-piece cover, which is a case cover made from three different material types
Start Publishing With Palmetto
There’s a lot to consider when publishing your book in hardback. Besides determining your budget and how you’d like your book to look, you also need to think about your target audience. This can be a lot of work, especially when you’re already up to your nose in manuscripts.
Luckily, Palmetto can offer book help from start to finish. As a top-tier publisher, we can help you design your book. We also provide self-publishing help, cover design, interior formatting, illustration, editing, printing, and marketing services.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you print and market your book. Prices will depend on the paperweight, page count, trim size, hardcover type, dust jackets, and quantity ordered.