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Trade Paperback vs Paperback: Difference and How to Choose

softcover book printing

In the world of books, there are various formats available to readers. Two popular choices are trade paperback and paperback. While they may seem similar, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of each format, discuss their differences, and help you choose the right option for your reading preferences.

What’s a Paperback Book?

Let’s start by understanding what a paperback book is. A paperback book, also known as a softcover book. Paperback books are the most common and affordable format available in the market. They are often referred to as mass-market paperbacks. These books are printed on low-cost paper and have a flexible cardstock cover.

paperback book

It is typically less expensive than a hardcover book and is often the preferred format for novels, non-fiction books, and other works of literature that are meant to be read for pleasure. Paperback books are lightweight, portable, and easy to carry around, making them a popular choice among readers who enjoy reading on the go.

What is a Trade Paperback Book?

Trade paperback books, on the other hand, are a step up from mass-market paperbacks. They are often referred to as trade paperbacks or simply TPBs. Trade paperbacks are printed on higher quality paper, which results in better durability and a more substantial feel. The cover is usually made of heavier cardstock or laminated paper, giving it a sturdier appearance and protection against wear and tear.

trade paperback

Trade paperbacks are commonly used for books that are not mass-market bestsellers but still have a significant audience. They are typically priced higher than standard paperbacks. But offer better quality in terms of paper, cover design, and overall aesthetics. Trade paperbacks are popular among readers who value the tactile experience of reading and appreciate the added durability and visual appeal of a well-crafted book.

Standard Paperback Sizes

Paperback books come in a variety of sizes, but there are some standard dimensions that are commonly used in the publishing industry. The most common size for a paperback book is the “mass-market paperback” size, which measures approximately 4.25 inches wide by 6.87 inches tall. This compact size makes mass-market paperbacks convenient for carrying in pockets or purses.

Another common size for paperback books is the “trade paperback” size, which is slightly larger than the mass-market paperback. Trade paperbacks typically measure around 5.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall. This size offers more room for text and allows for a more comfortable reading experience, especially for books with larger fonts or illustrations.

Trade Paperback Sizes

As mentioned earlier, trade paperbacks are slightly larger than standard paperbacks. The specific dimensions may vary depending on the publisher or printing specifications. But trade paperbacks generally fall within a range of sizes. Common trade paperback sizes include 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches, 6 inches by 9 inches, and 7 inches by 10 inches. These larger sizes provide more space for text, illustrations, and overall design, enhancing the reading experience for those who appreciate a visually appealing book.

Trade Paperback vs Paperback: The Real Difference

The primary difference between trade paperback and paperback lies in the quality of the materials used and the target audience. Paperback books are printed on lower quality paper and have a flexible cardstock cover. They are affordable and widely available, catering to a broad range of readers.

Trade paperbacks are typically printed on higher-quality paper stock, which results in a more durable book that is less prone to wear and tear. The covers of trade paperbacks are also sturdier and often feature additional design elements, such as embossing or foil stamping, that enhance the overall aesthetic appeal. They are targeted towards dedicated readers who seek a more substantial reading experience.

Another difference between trade paperback and paperback is the size. Standard paperbacks have a compact size that is convenient for readers on the go. Trade paperbacks are larger and offer more space for content. This distinction makes trade paperbacks suitable for books with illustrations, graphic novels, or non-fiction works that require more room for visuals or detailed explanations.

In terms of pricing, trade paperbacks are generally more expensive than standard paperbacks. This is due to the higher production costs associated with using better quality materials and the additional design elements. However, the higher price tag is often justified by the improved reading experience and the longevity of the book. If you are a serious reader who enjoys collecting books or if you simply prefer a more substantial and visually appealing reading experience, trade paperbacks may be the ideal choice for you.

Trade Paperback vs Softcover: Which is Better?

Some readers may wonder about the difference between trade paperbacks and softcover books. As the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. While both terms refer to books with flexible covers, there is a subtle difference between them. Softcover is a broader term that encompasses both trade paperbacks and standard paperbacks. Trade paperbacks, as we have discussed earlier, are a specific type of softcover book that offers better quality and higher production value. In comparison, standard paperbacks are more basic and affordable, making them a popular choice for casual readers or those on a budget.

When it comes to deciding which is better, trade paperbacks or standard paperbacks. It ultimately depends on your personal preferences and reading habits. If you are someone who enjoys collecting books, values the aesthetics of a well-crafted book, and is willing to invest a bit more in the reading experience, trade paperbacks are likely to be more appealing to you. On the other hand, if you prioritize affordability and portability, standard paperbacks may be the better choice.


The choice between trade paperback and paperback depends on your reading preferences. If you value durability, a more substantial feel, and a visually appealing reading experience, trade paperbacks are the way to go. If convenience, affordability, and portability are your priorities, standard paperbacks are a better fit.

If you are looking to print softcover books, including trade paperbacks and paperbacks, Chinaprintingexport is an excellent choice. We offer high-quality printing services at competitive prices. With our expertise and state-of-the-art equipment, we can help bring your book to life. Whether you are an independent author, a small publisher, or a business looking to create promotional materials. Chinaprintingexport has the capabilities to meet your printing needs.

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