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Hardback vs Paperback Books

Posted by ChocolateFrogs , Jul 08 2013 · 180 views

books reading
I have a question for everyone: What is your preference between hardback books and paperback books? And not just in general, but new books, older books, favorite books, read-it-once-then-donate books, etc.
 
See, I work at a bookstore, and constantly I'll hand someone a hardback (because it's new or is still selling well even after being out for half a year or more) and they'll ask "Is it in paperback?" (Um, no, this new Dan Brown book came out yesterday. It's in hardback because they know they'll make more money by people who can't wait to read it.) (Rinse and repeat for Mockingjay, A Dance With Dragons, and Gone Girl, books that have been out forever.)
 
Now, I can understand that a paperback is lighter to hold and easier to take on trips, despite being cheaper. But whenever someone asks that my first thought is that they are cheap and can't appreciate the work the are holding in their hands. But customers have revealed that they prefer paperbacks due to being lighter, usually thinner, and easier to travel with.
 
For me, I love that I have some gems in hardback, because I know in 20 years they won't look like they'll fall apart ala The Time Machine. I'll definitely want to reread Neil Gaiman, JK Rowling, or Douglas Adams multiple times between now and my death, and these books will need to take a beating between my hands and friends borrowing them.
 
But I can understand wanting to pay less for a book you're unsure about or if money is tight. An $8 pocket paperback is more alluring than a $26 hardback for an impulse buy.
 
So, does anyone feel how I feel, or do you strictly buy a paperback, even if it means waiting 8 months to two years to read the new Neil Gaiman or George RR Martin?
 
(And don't get me started about graphic novels. Only the best of the best need to be in hardback to stand the test of time, dust, and rereads, but those have already been out so long they're only in paperback. And the new stuff most likely doesn't need to be in hardback.)
 
-CF :kakama:

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Electric Turahk
Jul 08 2013 10:57 PM
I read the Star Wars novels.

For those not in the know, THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM.

Space conservation was an obvious issue from the start, so paperback helps. And I wanted to read older ones, which are only in paperback. Once you get so many, why muddle the clean look on the shelf by switching between paper and hard back? I think it looks really ugly.

And its my experience with all of those that pushed me to paperback in general. It just became a preference.
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I typically prefer hardback, because they last longer, look nicer, and tend to stack better in my bookshelf.
I made a special exception with the Song of Ice and Fire series, solely because the paperback versions fit perfectly into my coat pocket, so I could carry it that way.
Obviously though, I still bought A Dance With Dragons hardback. I couldn't wait on that.
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Hardback all the way. They just look nicer, really. With small books, I like them being hardback because then they're just a  solid little package and it's just cool to carry around. Big books pretty much work best in hardback as well, because dang if I want six hundred pages flopping around every time I take it out.

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Overall I definitely far prefer hardbacks, for various reasons, most of which people already mentioned. I don't buy full price hardback books very often, mostly because they are more expensive (and I have no job currently =P), but also because I've got some awesome used bookstores near me that sell hardbacks for extremely cheap but in great condition. At the same time, though, I don't buy full priced paperbacks very often, either. =P If I buy a brand new book for whatever reason, it is usually hardback if I have enough money.

 

I also don't really like reading the normal-sized paperbacks that much. I don't know why, but there's something about a hardback/bigger paperback that I just enjoy more. 

 

The one exception to me is actually the Song of Ice and Fire series, as I purchased the first book at Target (paperback). It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing, but since I bought it new, I got a little OCD, so I wanted to buy all of ASoIaF new, and the same size paperbacks. =P I also just started reading the series this year, so I don't have too long to wait before DwD comes out in paperback (assuming they don't push it back again <_<). But usually that problem doesn't happen, because usually (especially for a full series) I just buy used copies (preferably hardback, but I'll get either), so it doesn't matter. 

 

But yeah, I definitely prefer having hardbacks, and I definitely prefer having the whole series matching. I've bought doubles occasionally (when they're cheap) just so I can get the same size/style book for a whole series. =P

 

Still waiting for the day when I become a millionaire so I can buy every book in leather-bound hardback. =P (because those are the best. B&N Leatherbound Collectible Series ftw)

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Vorahk1Panrahk2
Jul 08 2013 11:59 PM

It depends. For thicker books (Michael Crichton, James A. Michener, latter Harry Potter books) I prefer the hardback because it prevents all those pages from flopping around so much. Also the paperback versions of thicker books tend to have smaller print, which makes reading more difficult. I've actually checked out certain books in hardback despite owning the paperback just because of this.

 

Medium size books (A Passage to India, Paulo Coelho novels) can go either way, but most of them on my shelf are paperback.

 

For thinner books (Bridge to Terabithia, Animal Farm, Bionicle) the paperback is preferable because it's cheaper and it doesn't make much of a difference to me.

 

All in all, though, hardbacks tend to be much nicer, look better in a collection, and last longer. The only downside to them is that torturous cracking sound they make when opened.

 

(Also, size is determined less by page numbers and more by thickness of the book.)

 

B&N Leatherbound Collectible Series ftw

 

Oh my gosh, this so much so. Despite owning both Jurassic Park (in paperback) and The Lost World (in hardcover) I just had to have the combined leatherbound hardcover edition. It's just... it's so beautiful.* I also have my eye on The Arabian Nights, Wicked/Son of a Witch, and pretty much everything else. I'm eagerly waiting for the (hopefully) inevitable Lord of the Rings leatherbound. It will be so beautiful.

 

*And partially because my friend basically decided to keep my copy of Jurassic Park when I lent it to him. And because I got both of those books used and as such were ugly. And because the two didn't match and I need all books in a series to match.

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I'd probably be one of those who likes paperbacks because they're cheaper.  And slightly easier to store, I guess, but they can still add up.  Otherwise, I don't really care that much about the physical book itself.  Why does how the work is presented (AKA Fancy Book) matter as much as the work itself?  The book is just letters on the page, and as long as it's easy to read them, I don't care what form they can be in, be it paperback or hardback.  (And what, no love for virtual stories?  Aren't you trying to sell Nooks too? :P )

 

From a library binding / stamping standpoint, hardbacks were usually thicker and easier to stick the labels on compared to paperbacks, but some of the really old hardbacks would have a crumbling spine which would be problematic.  :(

 

:music:

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Oh my gosh, this so much so. Despite owning both Jurassic Park (in paperback) and The Lost World (in hardcover) I just had to have the combined leatherbound hardcover edition. It's just... it's so beautiful.* I also have my eye on The Arabian Nights, Wicked/Son of a Witch, and pretty much everything else. I'm eagerly waiting for the (hopefully) inevitable Lord of the Rings leatherbound. It will be so beautiful.

 

 

Yessssss, the Jurassic Park/Lost World one is fantastic--I picked it up a few months ago when I finally decided to read JP for the first time. But seriously, they really must come out with a LOTR! It'll be amazing. I'm also hoping for Les Miserables, among others. Totally agreed on "pretty much everything else", haha. I really hope to get them all some day, that'd be awesome.

 

Which reminds me! @ Ben, I also bought the American Gods/Anansi Boys leatherbound book a little while back, and plan to read it soon. You (and others) have kept recommending Neil Gaiman (and American Gods particularly) to me, so I'm really looking forward to it. 

 

Why does how the work is presented (AKA Fancy Book) matter as much as the work itself?

 

 

Pffft, 'cause you're totally supposed to judge a book by its cover, Jason. c; 

 

(but at least in my case, I just love the look/feel/etc. of books, and so owning editions that I particularly nice is just awesome, and sometimes a must [like having the same editions for a whole series, etc.]. Plus, I do genuinely like reading hardbacks (or larger paperbacks) a lot better than the pocket-size paperbacks, so in my case it actually does matter. =P)

 

And Nooks are cool (I've got one myself), but there's just something about a real book...to hold one in your hands, to display them on your shelves...

(yes I'm obsessed with books but you know this already. =P)

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Princess Grr
Jul 09 2013 03:39 AM

I prefer hardback, but I rarely buy new books in hardback because of price reasons.  Then again, I rarely buy any books new because of price reasons - I shop at used bookstores almost exclusively.  I may be the fella with a B.A. in English and over 800 books lining the shelves in her house but I could never afford them all new. :P

 

It's worth noting, though, that I do read and re-read my paperback books just as frequently as hardbacks and don't generally have a major problem with wearing the spines out - I could count on my hands the number of books I've worn out.  I guess since I've been used to buying secondhand my whole life, I've developed careful reading habits: I don't bend the spine and have something of a gentle hand when turning pages.  It's all about how you treat the book, really.

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Cheshire Cat
Jul 09 2013 04:44 AM

I'd say I prefer hardback overall. It just feels more sophisticated, I suppose. I do recognise the merits of paperbacks when it comes to storage though, with my bookshelf being pretty much full. Still, the bookshelf is nicer to look at when the Harry Potters and His Dark Materials and the like are in hardback.

 

However, I don't really pay any mind to it when buying a book and I usually just buy what's available. Ultimately what matters are the words contained within the book, and slapping a hardback cover on the book doesn't increase their value. Twilight in hardcover is still Twilight, and Nineteen Eighty-Four in paperback is still Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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I prefer hardback, but that's just because I make extensive use of the library. The price difference isn't really a concern for me.

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I'm fine with both. I'm definitely not gentle on books, plus I'm a rereader, so hardbacks tend to last longer, but paperbacks are cheaper to replace. It mostly depends on how new I buy books; I use my library fairly heavily, so when I actually want to own a book, it's out on paperback. But there's still nothing like cracking open a hardback for the first time, so I'm a fairly steady mix of both.

I might give a slight advantage to hardback because if I ever buy a book new, it's probably the latest in a series (as you mentioned) so I both want to read it right away and likely have the previous books in hardback already.
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I don't usually care. The book's contents matter to me more than its style of binding (unless the binding is atrocious, that is).

 

I will say, though, that I tend to lean toward paperback, as they are easier to carry around and are cheaper than hardcovers. If it's a new book, though, and I really want it right away, I will buy the hardcover version (as I have been doing with the Heroes of Olympus series recently).

 

-TNTOS-

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First off, I have never heard it called a hardback, I have always heard it hardcover and paperback. You all are wrong. =P

 

I almost exclusively use my library system to read books, because at the speed I read it is not viable to buy the books. However, when I do buy books, it tends to be in the way I read them first. I read all of the Charlie Bone books in paperback, so when I bought them I got paperback. When I first read The Tapestry it was in hardcover, so when I started buying that series I bought them in hardcover edition. And, like the others, I have to have the series in one format. It just feels wrong to do otherwise.

 

I do hate the pocket paperbacks though, something about them just irks me. The only series I have finished, reading or buying, in that size is The Dark is Rising. And that was because my aunt gave me all of them in pocket paperback edition. =P

 

But overall I prefer hardcover just because they feel better to me. *shrug*

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The Lonesome Wanderer
Jul 09 2013 02:32 PM

I like Hardcover if it's a book that I want to have around for a while(Hitchhikers Guide, His Dark Materials) but if I am just at the library, I don't really care.

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ChocolateFrogs
Jul 09 2013 03:01 PM

Space conservation was an obvious issue from the start, so paperback helps. And I wanted to read older ones, which are only in paperback. Once you get so many, why muddle the clean look on the shelf by switching between paper and hard back? I think it looks really ugly.

But what if you want to read the newest SW novel, like Scoundrels? Do you just wait until it's in paperback?

 

 

Why does how the work is presented (AKA Fancy Book) matter as much as the work itself?  The book is just letters on the page, and as long as it's easy to read them, I don't care what form they can be in, be it paperback or hardback.  (And what, no love for virtual stories?  Aren't you trying to sell Nooks too? :P )

:music:

Because if it's a hardback, it will last longer. I don't want it to look (and actually happen) like it will fall apart with each page turn in 20 years. I want to invest in a hardback if I'm going to keep it around and lend it out, providing it many rereads by myself and others in the years to come.

 

I don't read ebooks, so they aren't on my radar as such a viable source. I know they are popular though. But my problem with getting an ereader is 1) can't share it with all my friends (or any for that matter, though Velox has a Nook...) and 2) what happens in 5, 10, or 20 years when B&N goes under? Or even Amazon eventually? All those ebooks purchased will be gone once said ereader breaks and no one is around to supply a new one to DL all those books on that system. Only those free ebook sites with the out of copyright stories will be viable.

 

 

Which reminds me! @ Ben, I also bought the American Gods/Anansi Boys leatherbound book a little while back, and plan to read it soon. You (and others) have kept recommending Neil Gaiman (and American Gods particularly) to me, so I'm really looking forward to it. 

 

Yeessssss!

 

-CF

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thebeggerpie
Jul 09 2013 04:29 PM

When I go to buy a book, I want it to last.

 

 Hardback all the way. 

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Bionicle Raptor
Jul 09 2013 04:49 PM

I enjoy hardback most. It's strong, and will last a long while. ^_^

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Aanchir: Rachira of Time
Jul 10 2013 12:31 PM
I prefer hardcover books in many cases, but at the same time, I do a lot of traveling with my books, and so it sometimes helps to have them in paperback. Additionally, if I have a whole series that I like, paperback is lighter and takes up less space. Thus, paperbacks are both easier to keep and easier to share. Paperbacks are also easier to replace if they do get damaged. If you drop a hardcover book from a considerable height, you can permanently crumple the corners of the cover or tear the book jacket. A paperback can be a bit more durable in that regard.

There are benefits to both, really. Often what I get depends on what's available where I happen to be shopping. How easily can I get the whole series in one form or another? If I started with hardcover, I'll get the rest in hardcover, but if I started with paperback I may switch to hardcover since that's how new installments are first released. My Artemis Fowl books are perhaps the most disjointed ones I own — the first three are paperback, the remaining five are hardcover, 6-7 have the new style of cover art with the bizarre stylized "AF" logo, and the final one has the same style of art but ditches that logo in favor of more ordinary text reading "Artemis Fowl".

With graphic novels in particular, hardcover editions tend to be huge, thick volumes that compile the equivalent of multiple paperback volumes. They are thus unwieldy for transportation in most cases. The only hardcover graphic novel I have is the first Girl Genius omnibus, which collects the paperback volumes 1-3 and is not substantially larger in size. My Sandman graphic novels are all paperback with the original colors, which I somewhat regret because the "Ultimate Sandman" hardcover compilations had all the colors redone to be truer to the author's vision, and subsequent paperback editions use the same colors as the "Ultimate Sandman" books if I'm not mistaken.
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