Discussion: hardback vs. paperback

So many readers have a preference to the type of book they buy. I’m not talking about things like genre, or fiction vs. non-fiction. I’m talking about format. Hardback vs. paperback, or even so much as mass market paperback (which are smaller, and somewhat pocket-sized). In this newer, technology-ridden age, we even have the e-book, or whatever format fits a Kindle (or your choice of e-reader).

My late mother-in-law loved hardback books so much, she was replacing all of her paperbacks with hardbacks, one at a time. And this woman had an enormous collection of books. She and I often discussed why we liked the formats we liked (I prefer mass market paperback). She was one of those people. You know them, don’t you? The type who don’t write on pages, they don’t dog-ear the pages, and they certainly don’t ruin them. The books on the shelf are pristine, and look just as they did coming off the book shelves in the store, with the exception of some dust collection.

My collection of books? Used to sit on a book shelf. They’re now stacked, scattered, and haphazardly thrown around a bedroom. I dog-ear the pages, I write in them (unless they’re a library book), I do whatever I want. Why? Because I paid for it, dammit; I’m going to do whatever the hell I want! I suppose going through college, where professors encourage you to write in your text books, didn’t help matters any.

I prefer mass market paperback to anything, though, because while it might not be small enough to fit in my pocket, it most definitely will fit in my purse. Hardbacks are not guaranteed to fit (can you imagine sticking a monster like Under the Dome, which is over 1,000 pages, in a purse?), and while I’m not a book purist, I really don’t like my books sitting in the back seat of my car for any given length of time in the desert heat. I’m liable to forget they’re even back there (this happens frequently, me forgetting things in my car), and when I remember the book, the pages are falling out because the brutal weather has started killing the glue holding the binding together.

Another reason I hate hardbacks: dust jackets. I get that it’s easier to print a cover on a piece of paper and slip it over the book. What a waste of paper. I actually have to take dust jackets completely off my book and set them somewhere that I’ll remember, otherwise the dust jacket gets ruined. If I set it just anywhere, any number of things are liable to happen to it: it can be torn or lost. It can be bent all to hell when I start moving things around and it’s caught  between a box and a wall.

With paperbacks, I don’t have to worry about dust jackets at all. Whatever image goes with the novel, it’s there already on my cover. There is no distracting piece of paper trying to slip off my book when I’m reading.

Bottom line is, I like my books well-loved. I don’t plan on re-selling them, or giving them away (except maybe as hand-me-downs). I’m a book hoarder.

I can’t even read a Kindle. I really hate the digital-book format. It kills my eyes and gives me a headache to stare at a screen for so long, trying to read. I much prefer having the book in hard-print in my hands.

What are your thoughts? Do you like a hard copy of a book, or do you prefer digital format? Do you prefer hardback or paperback?

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2 thoughts on “Discussion: hardback vs. paperback

  1. Marce says:

    Hi Jen,

    I LOVE HARDCOVERS so i’m like your mom. And you dog eared :-0 oh my…… I bought a Kindle last year and I have to say I love my Kindle, love everything about it. At first I did miss the covers but from blogging and having my current read up I don’t miss it now. I enjoy using hardcovers flap as a bookmark also.

    Great post

    • Jen says:

      I dog-ear books like crazy! I’m really lazy about bookmarks. I’m always losing them. I probably have something like 20 lying around everywhere, but I just don’t want to grab any. Dog-earring pages is so much faster! lol
      I do the hardcover flaps as bookmark thing, too.

      The nice thing about library books is they have that pocket glued in the front. Insta-bookmark-holder. I use my library receipt for a bookmark because it fits perfectly in that little pocket.

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