What’s the difference between a board book and a paperback?

Children’s books come in various sizes and formats, including paperbacks, hardbacks, and board books. If you’re new to board books and wondering how they differ from other formats, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about board books.

What is a Board Book?

A board book is a type of children’s book, but not all children’s books are board books. Picture books, which are specifically designed for young readers, come in three formats: paperbacks, hardbacks, and board books.

Paperbacks and hardbacks are similar in that they both have paper pages. However, paperbacks have a soft, flexible cover, while hardbacks have a sturdy cover made of paperboard or cardboard. On the other hand, board books have an entire book, including the cover and pages, made of cardboard. Sometimes the pages in board books are slightly thinner, but often the pages and cover have the same thickness.

How Many Pages are in a Board Book?

The industry standard for a picture book is 32 pages. Picture books are typically produced in multiples of eight, including title pages and end pages. However, board books tend to be shorter and don’t always follow the multiples of eight rule. After examining our bookshelf at home, we found that the shortest board book had only 8 pages, while the longest had 32. The text in a board book is usually shorter as well, with some books having just a sentence or a single word per page, and others even having no words at all.

However, longer board books do exist. Some popular picture books, such as those by Julia Donaldson, are available in multiple formats, including hardback, paperback, and board book. Additionally, there are abridged versions of stories, where books originally published in other formats have been shortened for the board book format.

What Ages are Board Books For?

Board books are more durable than paperbacks or hardbacks, making them ideal for babies, toddlers, and young children who interact with books using their hands. You don’t have to worry about little ones tearing the pages of board books. They are a popular format for introducing babies and toddlers to concepts like colors, numbers, letters, and animals through simple and colorful pictures with minimal text. However, board books can cover various themes, including history and science.

The ideal age range for board books is from 0 to around 3 years old. Despite being commonly associated with babies, older children who are still physically engaged with their books can also benefit from board books. As mentioned earlier, many picture books are published in multiple formats, so if you feel that your child is not ready for paperback picture books, you can check if the same book is available as a board book.

Board books come in different variations, such as lift-the-flap, pull-the-tab, touch-and-feel, and board book storybooks. You can find a wide selection of board books for sale in our independent children’s bookstore.


Lastly, we want to mention the amazing Indestructibles we sell in our store. These books are neither board books nor paperbacks but are perfect for very young children who love to engage with their books. Designed for babies, Indestructibles are chew-proof and rip-proof, capable of withstanding anything your baby throws at them. They are printed on a unique, 100% non-toxic, paper-like material that is fully waterproof and can be easily cleaned in the sink, bath, or even washing machine!

We have a selection of Indestructibles available in our online store, which are also part of our 3 for £10 deal!

With this guide, we hope to have cleared up any confusion regarding board books and provided you with valuable insights into their features and suitability for different age groups. Whether you’re looking for a sturdy book for your baby or a visually engaging reading experience for your toddler, board books offer a diverse range of options that cater to every child’s needs.

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