Hard cover. More durable than paperback and has a nicely solid feel in the hands. I am quite ambivalent about the utility of jackets, though, which seem to bow and/or become ratty far too quickly. Hard covers also carry the authority of an earlier age of publishing, reminding the reader of the weight of history more than a paperback can.
Paperback. I like the way it feels on my fingers and I find they fit in my bags easier. Dust jackets also annoy me. Paperbacks also help with second hand book shopping, as often the most worn covers have been read the most, and therefore give some indication they’ve been read and re-read more often. At least in my experience.
Paperback. Because I like to be able to read in bed without the fear that I will fall asleep and die from a head wound inflicted by a weighty hardcover slipping from my sleeping hands.
Hardbacks; they age well and if properly cared for show minimal signs of use. Some people like the dogeared wrinkled pages of battered paperbacks, but I suspect those same people also buy their jeans pre-ripped and bulk buy record collections on eBay, and I can only conclude that their appreciation of a book’s history is purely aesthetic. I imagine they use their ‘old’ books as objects for interior decoration, and not as living, breathing, printed worlds. All books that are read show signs of use, and I am of the opinion that if you are too impatient to let a book age with you, and show its use with small and entirely natural imperfections, then perhaps you are more interested in being seen as a reader than actually being a reader. Why else have a book that looks as though you have read it 20 times, when in fact you have read it once, but took such bad care of it that you dropped it in a bowl of minestrone soup (hence the brown stains and the strange smell). I will concede that some books receive that level of love, but in a collection of hundreds (as I imagine yours is) these re-read books are undoubtedly in the minority. I shudder to think of some in-authentic readers craving the used look so much that they spend a choice hour or two deliberately inflicting signs of wear on books by kicking them around in dirt. I simply cannot condone the wilful destruction of a book. But regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, you can prolong a book’s health by storing all books in a temperature controlled room with adequate air circulation (mould is a serious issue). Avoid exposure to direct sunlight as the UVA and UVB rays will degrade and stain the paper. If possible use gloves when reading to help minimise the damage your grubby and acidic fingers will do to the pages.
Hard cover for:
- Books that are big and thick (e.g. textbooks).
- Comics and art books, because it’s nice to have a solid beginning and end to pictorially orientated work.
Paperback for everything else, because I can’t help but fold that spine over for easy reading in bed.
I only read books printed out on recycled A4 paper and stapled together.
Paperbacks because when they get beat up you don’t feel as bad. Usually when a fiction book is hardcover and $29.99, I know it’s trying to compensate for not being very good. Plus, you have the issue of the jacket slip: do you take it off when reading, to avoid it slipping down the cover and getting bent? But then if I place the limp jacket on my floor or bed, I accidentally crush it and that’s worse. I prefer to not have these problems, and I am trying to become less materialistic by letting my worthless paperbacks get as effed up as they need to be; often with scummy dog ears that have been used to clean one’s fingernails at some stage, ice cream wrappers and dental floss wedged in the pages as place makers. I think I only draw the line at leaving the book facedown though on the bathroom floor. That’s gross.
Okay weird opinion here. I like both paperback and hardback books. Hardbacks are excellent to have and own, but I always get protective of them. Paperbacks aren’t as nice to look at or hold, but you can pretty much toss them around without much worry (I still worry, because I love my books). So, I often have multiple copies of some books, one in paperback to read on the go (and to lend out), and a hardback to collect and read only at home. I think if I had to decide, I’d give the nod to hardback, just because I prefer the look and feel. Plus, some of my favourite books don’t have paperback copies (or at least not ones I know of). You know what! What happened to the good old days when we could have multiple volumes of the same book?
Paperback, they’re way cheaper and won’t disintegrate if you know what you’re looking for (a glossy finish to the cover, thicker paper, a flat spine).
The only reason you should ever buy hardcover is for books of a thousand or more pages, where the cover of a paperback legitimately will not support the tome’s girth. Picture: my never touched copy of War and Peace. Note the pre-bent spine.
PAPERBACK. Represents a democratisation of READING. CHEAPER. Reminds me of novels serialised in newspapers a la Charles Dickens. For the people. Hardbacks look terrible with other books. Further, I will not fuck with trade paperbacks (the big ones released on first printing), as they are truly representative of the capitalist money-stacking goals of Penguin et al. Also, may I add, that Penguin has betrayed its own ideals. It was designed to be a cheap, quality alternative. Now black penguin classics range up to $40, and they are made of terrible, terrible stock. Other good things about paperbacks: Eamonn, you could tear that War and Peace in half for easy travel. Also, they generally have better cover designs.
It doesn’t matter. I’ll destroy it if it’s not mine.
Art by Eloise Brenda
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 7 SOFT