Paperback vs Sheet Music: What’s the Difference?




Paperback vs Sheet Music

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Sheet music is the written form of the lyrics to a song, which must be read by looking at it. A paperback book has been printed not only on paper but also bound somehow.

This can mean hardback or softback, though it usually means softcover. So, what are the differences between sheet music and paperback?

The Number of Pages

The first difference is that sheet music has more pages than a paperback book does. This is because there are more characters in songs than there are sentences in books. Of course, this varies depending on how long each song or book is.

For example, the longest song ever written clocks at 220 verses, whereas The Hobbit has 322 pages.

The Way You Read It

Sheet music can be read by looking at it vertically, horizontally, or diagonally but this changes depending on what page orientation the sheet music is written in.

Paperback books are all written left to right across each page, top to bottom.

Blacking Out

Another difference is that you cannot “blackout” pieces of paper. This is not to be confused with black spots, which are entirely different.

Music can include white-out, though, especially if the songwriter suddenly realizes the wrong words have been used.

The Soundtracks 

By listening to your favorite songs on their soundtracks, you can get an idea of what it would be like to read them as sheet music.

All you have to do is hum along to the tune in your head. If you want to know how much you love a song, try finding its soundtrack because they are always written in beautiful “sheet music.”

When Did The Songwriter Write It?

Sheet music is always written with the date it was written on, even though this information will be hidden in the corner most of the time. Paperback books are not generally dated but can be.

This information may be found next to or underneath the title on a promotional “blurb,” which is often located near the front cover of paperbacks.

The Color Scheme

The colors used to print both sheet music and paperbacks depend on what they are about, but both are always filled with colors that can make your heart sing. One big difference is that paperback colors are often more vibrant than sheet music colors.


Do not be fooled by the word “paper” in the term “paperback.” Paperbacks are made out of paper, which gives them their rigidity and strength compared to softcover books made out of fabric.

Sheet music is usually printed on them, paper too. Though it can sometimes be printed on plastic or even metal depending on the songwriter’s preference.

The Price Varies Wildly

The prices of both of these things not only vary from country to country, but they change over time as well.

However, a general rule is that paperbacks tend to be cheaper than sheet music, especially if it is past the first edition date.

The Number of Songs 

In general, more songs are written for paperbacks than for sheet music because usually, one song will have been written about one thing, whereas many more stories have been made into a single book. This is not always the case, though.

The Number of Pages 

As mentioned earlier, one song can be in many paperbacks. Because many stories are put into single books, there is a lot more variety in the length of each book than there is for sheet music which almost always has between 7 and 11 staves (excluding altered versions such as piano reduction).

One exception to that statement would be “The Hobbit,” which has 322 books and about 220 SONG pages.


Overall, both have benefits and drawbacks depending on what is being examined, so neither can replace the other.

Other comparisons in the series:

Baldwins vs Steinway

About the author

Latest posts

  • What Piano Does Youtuber Rousseau Use?

    What Piano Does Youtuber Rousseau Use?

    Rousseau is one of the best pianists you can find on Youtube. The classical pianist delivers mind-blowing videos with a massive following of more than 4 million subscribers. This American pianist has covers of pop and classical songs, which he plays with a reactive visualizer. Rousseau launched his channel in 2018, and he has taken…

    Read more

  • James Pavel Shawcross (All You Need To Know)

    James Pavel Shawcross (All You Need To Know)

    Many pianists have existed in history. While some of them became legendary at old age, James Pavel Shawcross started as a young boy. In this article, we focus on the pianist – James Pavel Shawcross. Who Is James Pavel Shawcross  James Pavel Shawcross is a pianist and drummer in Pen Valley, California. He has sung…

    Read more

  • How Difficult Is Clair De Lune? (The Truth)

    How Difficult Is Clair De Lune? (The Truth)

    Clair de lune is a beautiful and complex piece of music. Claude Debussy wrote it in 1903. He wrote it for voice and piano, but many composers have adapted it to other instruments. Clair de lune has three acts. The first two are calm and tranquil, while the third act is more dynamic. The song…

    Read more

Digital Piano Planet