Hardcover, Softcover, Or Plastic Coil – Which Binding Style Is Right For My Book?

As an author, you want the same quality and level of detail you've put inside your self-published book to reflect in its exterior design. This is where your book's binding becomes important. Different book bindings suit different works, and each one affects the overall aesthetic on the shelf, as well as the reader's experience. 

One of the best parts about self-publishing is that you have full control over every detail of your book – inside and out.  

The binding describes the book's cover and the materials that hold it together. Choosing the binding style that's right for your book requires researching the styles offered by your printing partner, learning how specific choices affect your book's design, making necessary changes to accommodate your final selection, and previewing your design. 

In this article, Book1One provides more insight into the binding process and some of the top things authors should consider before placing an order. 


Browse Binding Choices from Your Printing Partner

Depending on the book-printing company you've selected, there will likely be several binding options to choose from. Each one is crafted using a specific process. Common styles are outlined as follows: 

  • Hardcover book binding: Made with sturdy binder's board, hardcover book-printing processes are crafted to ensure the final product lasts for years to come. Here is how hardcover books are typically made:
    • The pages are glued together at the spine, creating a text block. 
    • The end leaves, used to hold the text block to the inside of the cover casing, are affixed at the binding's edge. 
    • The cover is glued to both the end leaves and the text block for a firm hold.
  • Softcover book binding: Also known as perfect binding, the softcover style is an in-demand choice for many creators. The cover is crafted from sturdy, laminated stock for a durable, yet flexible, design. The softcover book-printing process includes the steps below:
    • An adhesive is applied to the pages along the spine side. 
    • The cover is wrapped around the pages. 
    • The book is trimmed to create a professionally finished look.
  • Plastic coil book binding: A coil-bound book is spine-free, and the pages rotate around the coil smoothly as each one is turned by the reader. Plastic-coil book printing typically follows these steps:
    • The cover is designed from durable materials for lasting use. 
    • The pages and cover are hole-punched to accommodate the binding. 
    • A plastic coil is applied along the edge.

Book bindings also come with a host of material and color choices that may affect your budget. From a simple cover stock to faux leather, the cover can take many forms. It can also showcase a personalized design created by you or an illustrator. If you need to enlist the services of an artist, companies like Six Penny Graphics and Illumination Graphics can help for an additional fee.


How Does the Binding Affect My Book's Design? 

In choosing your binding style, it's important to first take into account the purpose of your book and how frequently it will be referenced by your reader. Several choices work with landscape, portrait, or square designs, so book orientation isn't always a deciding factor. This decision is largely based on user experience and author preference. Here are some examples of when the binding style plays a significant role in the final product:

  • Cookbooks: Since the reader is likely multitasking in the kitchen while referencing your work, a coil binding that allows the pages to sit flat against the counter might be best. You may also consider a hardcover design, especially if your goal is to create a cookbook that will be passed down through family chefs. 
  • Family genealogy books: The beauty of a genealogy book is that it can serve as a cherished keepsake for your family. If you want your legacy to last through generations, choosing the most durable binding choice is wise. 
  • Novels, poetry, and children's books: If your book is meant to be read at leisure, virtually any binding style applies. However, hardcover and paperback books often fit better on the average bookshelf alongside other collections. 

Some printing companies also offer specialty add-ons for certain binding styles, such as foil stamping, UV coating, scratch protection, and dust jackets. And each of these services may affect the final pricing or timeline of your book, so it's important to keep that in the back of your mind, as well.


Format Your Final Project Correctly

Once you've selected a binding, it's time to adjust your project accordingly. Each binding process comes with its own set of requirements. While prepping your project for printing, you may have to adjust the formatting slightly to accommodate your binding choice. This includes the following considerations:

  • Text margins 
  • Bleed margins 
  • Paper stock
  • Overall Size

Some bindings also have page limits. If your book is lengthy, balancing the ideal paper weight with your preferred binding style is central in achieving a product that truly reflects your vision.  

These specifications are especially important considerations for authors who wish to do a combination run of hardcover and softcover books. If you have any questions about how each version of your project will look, reach out to your self-publishing company – they can provide everything you need to know. Many book printers even have diagrams and templates you can use to ensure every aspect of your project is on point before you hit the order button. 


Preview Your Final Product

Before beginning a larger production run, can I print just one book? The answer is yes, and it's highly recommended. Many creators elect to have a proof copy sent to them, providing the opportunity to approve the final design firsthand. Having a finalized version of your book in your hands not only affirms the many design choices you've made along the way but also helps ensure your book looks exactly as you've envisioned.  

If your proof copy reveals a design flaw, you'll be able to fix it before placing your next order.  

As far as pricing, there may be an additional charge for this service. You should be able to get a quote from your self-publishing company or use their online price calculator beforehand. Sometimes, ordering a single copy of your book – rather than a proof copy – may be more budget-friendly, but this largely depends on your partnering company and your project.  

This extra step will also affect your project's timeline to production. It will be up to you to decide if taking the time to wait for an additional copy is ideal. But it can be well worth it in the end.



A major element of your book, the binding, defines your work at first glance. And this choice may seem like a complex phase of the self-publishing process, but selecting the right style is simple if you know where to start. You just need to find out what your printer offers, see how those choices will affect your book's formatting, fine-tune the file to accommodate your chosen binding, and order a preliminary copy of your book. 

The advantage of self-publishing your work is that have full creative control over its final design. Plus, it's relatively simple to make changes if something isn't working well or the overall aesthetic doesn't quite meet your expectations.