The Difference Between Board Books vs. Hardcover

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  • February 9, 2024
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  • 6 min read


You probably know the distinctions between paperback and hardcover books, but have you ever come across a board book? Despite what its name suggests, board books are neither another moniker for hardback books nor used during board meetings. Unlike paperbacks or hardcovers, board books are commonly found in the children’s section of libraries. This article will explore the difference between board books vs. hardcover.

What is a Board Book?

When comparing a hardcover vs. board book, there are several similarities… until you reach the inner pages. Typically, a hardcover book features a thick, tough exterior that protects its more delicate inner pages. They’re fashionable and functional.

On the other hand, a board book doesn’t have thin, delicate pages at all. Instead, each page is thick, sturdy, and roughly the same thickness throughout. This is because board books were designed for children’s book writing.

Board books are often spotted as titles geared towards younger children, such as learning books or bedtime stories. Instead of featuring thin pages, each page—or “board”—is made using cardboard or paperboard.

Board books are typically shorter than hardcover books, with the industry standard clocking in at 24–32 pages for a board book. They can be longer or shorter, but board books and other similar types of picture books are produced with pages in multiples of eight.

Additionally, board books typically have rounded corners. This prevents children from hurting themselves on sharp edges. Agencies like Ghostwriting Founder use board books to publish children’s books for better durability.

What is a Hardcover Book?

A hardcover book has a strong, firm cover made of thick material, like cardboard, and it’s often wrapped in cloth or leather. This type of book is tougher and more durable than books with soft covers. The pages inside are usually sewn or glued into the sturdy cover, making the whole book last longer.

Hardcover books are often used for important or special books, like novels or reference books such as Little Critter books. They look fancier and are better at protecting the pages than books with soft covers, called paperbacks.

Board Books vs. Hardcover: The Durability Factor

Young readers are notoriously tough on their books, especially when developing motor skills. Though hardcover books may look more distinguished on a shelf, they soon lose their sheen when being lovingly read or played with by a toddler.

Though hardcover books are durable compared to paperback, the exterior shell can only protect the book’s delicate inner pages when an adult carefully reads them. When read by toddlers, hardcover books can do little to protect themselves from grasping hands and open mouths. After a session with a toddler, a hardcover book may look like little more than a title cover, with inner pages torn and strewn about.

Printed on sturdy cardboard or paperboard, every page within a board book is intended to withstand the wear and tear of even the most voracious young readers. Tiny hands will have increased difficulty ripping pages from board books, and rounded corners mean fewer points of interest for nibbling.

Durability is the main difference between hardcover and board books. Still, there are a few different factors to consider when choosing between the two when adding to a child’s library.

Board Books vs. Hardcover: Which Lasts Longer?

Kids can be tough on their books, especially when learning to handle them. Even though hardcover books might look fancier on a shelf, they can quickly lose their charm when a toddler gets ahold of them.

Hardcover books are sturdier than paperback ones, but their tough exterior can only protect the delicate pages when an adult carefully handles them. When a toddler takes over, hardcover books often look more like a cover with torn and scattered pages.

On the other hand, board books are made with robust cardboard or paperboard. Every page is designed to withstand the rough treatment of even the most enthusiastic young readers. Little hands will have a harder time tearing pages from board books, and the rounded corners make them less appealing for nibbling.

The big difference between hardcover and board books is how well they match kids’ handling. When choosing books for a child’s collection, durability is key, and there are a few things to consider when deciding between hardcover and board books.

Board Books vs. Hardcover: Things to Think About

Construction & Durability:

Hardcover books have sturdy covers that protect the pages but need gentle handling.

Board books have thick, tough pages made of cardboard, making them resistant to damage, perfect for little ones.

Target Audience:

Hardcover books are for older readers, while board books with colorful and engaging content are designed for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Aesthetic Appeal:

Collectors often favor hardcover books for their intricate designs, embossments, and textures.

Board books may not have as elaborate designs, but you can find unique options for a child’s bookshelf.

Price Point:

Hardcovers are generally more expensive due to their book publishing process, making board books a more affordable choice for families, teachers, or librarians dealing with young children.


Hardcover books offer a straightforward reading experience.

Board books often include interactive features like pop-ups, flaps, textures, or sounds, keeping toddlers engaged and enhancing their learning experience.

Board Books vs. Hardcover: Choosing for Your Child

Both board and hardcover books play vital roles in a child’s reading journey and deserve a place on the bookshelf with some of the best children’s books.

Board books shine for young kids due to their durability and engaging features. They’re designed to withstand the sometimes less-than-gentle handling of little ones, allowing children to interact with books in ways hardcovers can’t match.

Hardcover books are more suited for older readers, but younger kids can enjoy them under adult supervision. While hardcovers may not be as tough as board books, they bring a different kind of fun to reading and can be a valuable part of a child’s literary experience.


The choice between board books and hardcovers depends on various factors, each serving a unique purpose in a child’s literary journey. Board books stand out for their durability and engagement, ideal for young readers still exploring the world of books. On the other hand, hardcovers offer a different reading experience, best suited for older readers but can be enjoyed by younger children under supervision.

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