In The Book Buyer's Guide

Board Books vs Hardcover Books: The Guide

Chances are, before you had kids, you’d never even heard the term “board book” before, but now, you’re probably seeing it everywhere! 

So what is the difference between a board book and a hardcover? Here we evaluate the differences, and the potential pros and cons of each.


In general, board books are smaller than hardcovers. Hardcover novels typically range from 6 x 9 inches to 8.5 x 11 inches, while picture books can regularly be A4 size, or occasionally even larger. In contrast, the average size of a square shape board book is 6 x 6 inches (most of our personalized board books are 8 x 5.5 inches). The smaller size of board books makes them easier for even the smallest hands to pick up, hold and manipulate.

Another benefit of a smaller size book is that it allows the reader to focus on one image (i.e. the entire page), rather than them having to scan a larger amount of information across a much larger picture book page. For very young children, this can be very helpful in their mental processing of the concept on show.

board book v hardcover


While there’s not really a limit on the number of pages a hardcover can have (J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for example clocked in at a whopping 766 pages!) most board books fall within the range of 16 and 24 pages (or 8-12 double page spreads).

Age of the Child

This of course makes board books ideal for very young children, who can easily become confused when overloaded with too much information in one go. 

The New York Times went as far as to suggest thatbecoming a reader starts as soon as your baby pays attention to board books.” For the slightly older child who is developing a more active memory, as well as a passion for story, a hardcover book is more suitable, as it of course allows for a much longer tale.


Perhaps the greatest difference between board books and hardcover books comes in the materials used to make them. Hardcover books feature a hard cover (believe it or not!) with paper pages. Hardcovers are bound with two rigid block covers, usually made of chipboard or binder’s board, covered in cloth, heavy paper or leather. The stern covers protect the paper pages within, which are usually extremely thin in order to allow them to reach hundreds or even thousands in number.

Board books, on the other hand, are the same material throughout; all of the pages, including the front and back covers, are made from the same thick cardboard. This makes them ideal for the more hands-on child, as while the material might not be quite as firm as a hardcover, it is far tougher than paper, preventing an excited child from tearing or eating the inner pages as they could with a standard hardcover.

board book v hardcover


The same characteristics which make board books more durable in the hands of very small children also make them safer. The cardboard pages prevent paper cuts, and the rounded edges avoid the hazards posed by the sharp corners and edges of a hardcover.

Board books are also lighter than the average hardcover in weight. Simply put, a baby can hit, chew or throw a board book across the room reasonably safely, whereas you probably wouldn’t want them doing any of that with a hardback copy of War and Peace!


So, now that we’ve explored how board books differ from hardcovers (and before you check out our wonderful range of personalized baby books!), let’s have a quick recap:

  • Board books are smaller in size and easier to handle
  • Board books have cardboard pages, and fewer pages than the average hardcover
  • Board books are lighter than hardcovers and have rounded edges
  • Board books are ideal for children aged 3 and under


board book v hardcover

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