The term “softcover book printing” makes sense. After all, it’s the opposite of a hardcover, right? However, softcover is not the term the book industry uses—the preferred term is trade paperback or mass-market paperback. So at Bookmobile, we’ll call your softcover a paperback, and what’s more, we’ll specify it as perfect bound in our book printing quote. Confused? Read on!

Softcover (Paperback) Books for Retail: Trade and Mass Market

In the book industry (physical and online bookstores, distributors, and publishers), a trade paperback is a book sold in a bookstore, and a mass-market paperback is a book sold in a rack at a drug store, grocery store, or bookstore. Typically, a trade paperback is a larger size than a mass-market paperback, and it also has higher quality paper than a mass-market paperback’s groundwood paper.

Our Metadata Coordinator for Itasca Books, Judy Ogren, strongly advises getting into the habit of referring to softcovers as paperbacks too. Judy says,

Wholesalers and resellers use paperback to describe a softcover book. So when your potential customer searches for a book online or in a store, the title information that resides in databases uses either “hardcover” or “paperback.” “Softcover” is not a term that’s used. By using “hardcover” or “paperback” you’re passing on clean metadata to those book industry databases, and enabling your potential customer to easily find, and buy, your book.

Softcover (Paperback) Books at the Printer/Binder

Paperback books are perfect bound at Bookmobile—perfect binding being the process we use to make a paperback book. The steps are as follows:

1. The interior pages are printed and collated into a book block.

2. The cover—a flat sheet, at this point in the process—is printed and laminated.

3. The print run is set up on a binder:

    • Covers are stacked upside down in a feeder.
    • Book block are inserted into a clamp in the binder.
    • The clamp moves the book block through the binder: The spine is milled to prepare it for the glue, hot glue is rolled across the spine, and flexible side glue is added to the front and back edges nearest to the spine.
    • The clamp moves the book block to the covers, where a cover is clamped on, nipped in, and held while the the glue sets.
    • The clamp then moves the now perfect-bound book out of the binder.

4. The books are then trimmed along the top, thumb-edge, and bottom.

5. The books are packed and shipped!

We also produce hardcover books, wire-o bound books, and plastic spiral bound books at Bookmobile. Any questions? Contact me!