How to Self-publish a Hardcover Book


1106 Design

August 12, 2020

Frequently we are asked by our clients how to self-publish a hardcover book. Is it even possible? Yes, absolutely, and authors have several options.

First, we need to point out that you cannot self-publish a hardcover book directly from Amazon KDP. Amazon KDP, the distribution channel for self-published authors to sell books on Amazon, prints paperbacks only. The Kindle eBook format can also be sold through Amazon.

Thus, the choice for authors to self-publish a hardcover book is IngramSpark. Hardcover books that are printed on demand by IngramSpark can be distributed on Amazon, along with other online retail outlets.

Note that although self-publishing companies will advertise that one can produce a hardcover book through their platform, that book is in all likelihood being printed on demand by IngramSpark. The company is acting as a middle person—a broker—and will take a portion of the author’s “publisher compensation” as payment for doing so. As we’ve said before, self-publishing companies don’t do anything authors can’t do or organize for themselves.

IngramSpark provides multiple options for print-on-demand hardcover books. They call these “case laminate, cloth, or jacketed.”  In the following paragraphs, we explore these options and provide some photos to show what the cover looks like.

Hardcover Option 1: Jacketed with a cloth case

A “jacketed” book is a hardcover with a dust jacket over a cloth case. When we say “case,” we don’t mean a box; case is just another word for a hard covering on a book. The book is covered with a cloth over a hard backing, and the title and author name are foil-stamped on the front cover and spine. Take the dust jacket off of any hardcover book on your shelf, and you will probably find a cloth covering on the book. The book’s cover art is printed on the removable dust jacket, which includes the front and back flaps (more about those later).

Here’s a photo of a “jacketed” book with a cloth case.

cloth cover and jacket

IngramSpark has discontinued their standard blue and gray cloth covers and replaced them with “digital cloth”—covers that are digitally printed to look and feel like linen-textured cloth. Any text that would have been foil printed on cloth is now printed with a non-metallic gold-colored ink. These covers are available in blue or gray.

Hardcover Option 2: Jacketed with a “case laminate”

In this case (pun intended), the cover artwork is printed on both the hardcover case and on the dust jacket. This is a new option at IngramSpark; previously the case laminate was not available with a cover.

The case laminate is available in gloss or matte. The gloss finish has a shine to it and feels smooth. Case laminate, dust jackets or paperback covers with a matte finish feel slightly less smooth and have a more muted finish.

When it comes to finish, there is no right or wrong choice; it’s all a matter of preference and what finish your book designer feels will make the colors in your cover art really pop.

Here’s a photo of this hardcover book option.


Which brings us to option 3…

Hardcover Option 3: Case laminate

The difference between option 3 and option 2 above is that there is no printed dust jacket. Here’s an example:

case laminate

Knowing there is an option to print the cover art directly on the hardcover begs the question, “Why spend extra money printing a dust jacket?” After all, paperbacks don’t have dust jackets.

Hardcover books with a beautifully designed dust jacket just look better…more expensive, higher quality, more heft in the hand. Some people just prefer that format. They pay more for a hardcover book and so, they expect more. Being able to print colorful artwork on both the dust jacket and case just adds to the impression of quality and beauty beyond the boring cloth cover.

Use the Flaps!

Plus, the dust jacket has flaps. What can you do with flaps?  The front flap usually has a synopsis about the book, while the back flap usually features About the Author, with or without a photo. Putting information on the flaps rather than on the back cover frees up the back cover for more of that beautiful artwork and also can contain endorsements. Flaps can contain more information; sometimes it’s hard to fit the synopsis and About the Author and an endorsement on the back cover.

FYI: it’s okay to have blank flaps if you prefer.

Get Creative

There’s one more reason to have a dust jacket over a hardcover case: the chance to get creative. You can have different cover art on the dust jacket and on the laminate case! As author Savannah  J. Goins says in her article for IngramSpark, imagine the element of surprise when a potential reader pulls the book off the bookshelf for a closer look:

“Just out of curiosity, they peek under the jacket to see if there’s anything there. While the gripping blurb had them considering buying, the surprise pop of even more art hidden within makes the decision for them. What other gems might this book hold?”

Designing additional cover art will add to your book design fees, but could be worth it in the end!

Paper Choices

Finally, a word about paper choice. When dealing with a print-on-demand company such as IngramSpark, authors have many choices for trim size and paper thickness, finish and color. Not so with covers. Trim sizes are more limited for hardcover books; your book designer can provide you with some guidance in this area. The cover is what it is—there are no thicker or thinner cases. Ditto for the dust jacket, which comes in only one paper thickness. Where you do have some choice is in the finish, which can be either gloss or matte.

Why Self-publish a Hardcover Book?

Should you print a hardcover edition of your book, plus a paperback and eBook?

Well, why not?

For the cost of additional design fees—much like one would when producing an eBook that is based on a paperback that has already set the book’s design for cover art and interior page layout—you can provide your readers with the option to purchase a hardcover book. You will not incur any costs from IngramSpark; as with your paperback edition, they will deduct the printing costs from your retail price.

Readers demand more options these days. They want to read their books in the format(s) that best suit them, whether that’s hardcover, paperback, eBook or audiobook. Print-on-demand distribution lets you provide them with these options (well, not the audiobook) while giving you cost-effective flexibility as well.

Contact us for a free consultation about your hardcover book.

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