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Hardcover vs paperback on your shelves


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Mar 5, 2011, 12:14pm Top

Just wondering... my mother used to not allow any paperbacks on the shelves; only hardcovers. What's the current feeling about the "acceptability" of paperbacks? In a possibly slightly related topic, what about book club editions (complete, of course, not condensed) Is there any bias against them?

Mar 5, 2011, 12:24pm Top

I think that hardcover books are 'more sturdy'. Paperbacks are too flimsy and easy to damage. I would definitely prefer a hardcover book over a paperback, although hardcovers are really expensive.

Mar 5, 2011, 12:45pm Top

Paperbacks do have some advantages. You can get more of them on your shelves, they're easier to fit in your purse for reading on the bus, and, because they are lighter, they are better for taking along when you're traveling.

Mar 5, 2011, 12:48pm Top

I prefer hardcover books, but 1.) not every title is available in hardcover, and 2.) I don't always have the money for them.

As for book club editions: I don't really mind those - like you said: provided they're not condensed. I do know that their market value will be lower, but since I don't plan to sell my books while alive I will let my prospective heirs worry about that.

Mar 5, 2011, 12:59pm Top

As far as appearance goes, I really don't care whether the books are paperback or hardcover, just as long as there are books on my shelves. But if I am planning to have a lifelong relationship with a particular book, I would prefer to own it in hardcover, because of the durability factor. Hardcovers often have larger print, too, which becomes more important as I get older. So I am actively working on replacing my favourite paperbacks with hardcovers.

Mar 8, 2011, 2:25am Top

This is an interesting question being that I am both an elitist and cheap. My elitist side wants to be snotty and look rich by having all hardbacks, but my cheap side tells me to always go with the mass market paperbacks cause they tend to be under $10.
But if there's a book that I really love and find myself reading it over and over, I will go out and replace it with the hardback.

Mar 8, 2011, 2:31am Top

I don't like paperbacks, board books, or spirals.

Mar 8, 2011, 4:20am Top

I vastly prefer paperbacks. they are easier to carry around, easier to read (unless you do all your reading at a desk) and take up less space so you can have MORE books in the same shelf space. The only time I prefer the hardcovers is in those cookbooks that I use often enough to wear them out.

Mar 8, 2011, 10:51am Top

I prefer paperbacks for many of the same reasons MarthaJeanne mentioned. Also: They're cheaper. I can't afford to spend $20+ on every book I buy. Besides, the dust jackets are annoying. I always have to take them off when I'm reading a hardcover.

Mar 9, 2011, 8:31pm Top

I have to agree. I like paper backs more because the hardcovers jacket is annoying. Plus when I hold the hardcover for too long my hands start to get irritated.

Mar 11, 2011, 6:53am Top

I much prefer p/bs. I do most of my reading lying down (due to back problems) and paperbacks are so much easier to manipilate in that position. As others have said, they are also cheaper, easier to carry around or slip into a bag, lighter to take on holiday etc, etc, etc.

My love of books comes from their contents, not their covers (it still blows me away that I can get the entire written thoughts of someone like Dickens for £1 per book (or free if I liked online reading). A shelf full of paperbacks speaks more loudly to me of actual reading (though I may well be completely wrong about that as I'm sure hardback fans will tell me). I've spent a lot of time poking around old houses (think 'stately homes' more than abandoned cottages) and one of the saddest things I've ever seen is those libraries that are full of pristine matching leather-bound hardbacks that have never been read. I can't help thinking that if I had published a book and went into somebody's house where they had a copy, I would want to see it in a tattered, dog-eared, hopefully much loved paperback any time rather than a beautiful, perfectly cared for, untouched hardback.

The only hardbacks in my own library are ones where I a) couldn't wait for the p/b; b) bought (maybe second-hand) when that was the cheapest or only edition available; c) was a gift or inherited from my parents. I'm proud and happy to display my beloved paperbacks although I am planning to run to plastic covers for those favourites I have to keep replacing due to heavy reading.

Mar 11, 2011, 12:32pm Top

Magazines are inherently paperbacks, and I have an entire bookcase devoted to one magazine. Much of the science fiction I have was only published in a paperback, so that's what I have. However the number of hardcovers I have is growing, but I keep them separate from the paperbacks.

Mar 11, 2011, 12:39pm Top

I think on a book shelf hardback all the way. Since I hardly ever pay full price for a book I am more then happy to pay $5 or so for a hardback anyday.

Mar 11, 2011, 12:42pm Top

I like to have HC but I also have many paperbacks. If I didn't put them on the shelves where in the world would I keep them?

Mar 11, 2011, 2:39pm Top

>14 readafew: My mom used to make me keep my paperbacks in my room, where I kept them on closet shelves. I was more of a voracious reader, and my mom was more of a casual reader, but she always read to me when I was a child, and bought me all the books I wanted. She thought books were a wonderful source of education, but she thought only the lovely ones should be displayed.

I love hardcovers of the coffee table variety, with many illustrations, and also hardcovers with timeless prose, but for actual day-to-day reading, give me a portable paperback!

Mar 11, 2011, 2:55pm Top

I agree with Booksloth. If I look at a library that has nothing but matching leather bound books I feel that I'm looking at decoration, not reading material, and it is sad. My library is pretty evenly divided between paperbacks and hard cover, and I find I'm getting more and more books on my Nook for convenience and price.

Mar 11, 2011, 3:25pm Top

I prefer hardcovers, but as has already been pointed out, there are many books not available in hardcover. In fact, several of my favorites were never available in hardcover, while others were sold as first edition hardcover and now only available in paperback.

Book club editions - if not condensed - are just as acceptable as publisher's editions. I often have been short of money to purchase hardcover publisher's editions so I get the book club edition for about half the cost of a new publisher's edition, or I'll wait a bit longer and get a used copy.

Buying used is a gamble though. Sometimes used books aren't in as good a condition as was advertised... and sometimes you even get the wrong book, which has happened to me twice in the past few years.

Spirals are a hard call, because they are hard to keep undamaged, but they allow the book to open and lay flat, which is necessary (or, at least very handy) for some books such as art instruction books, or piano music.

3.> "You can get more of them on your shelves, they're easier to fit in your purse for reading on the bus..."

That's mainly true of mass market paperbacks, but not so much true for trade paperbacks, which vary in size from the hardcover editions only by about the thickness of the covers.

Mar 11, 2011, 3:32pm Top

16.>"If I look at a library that has nothing but matching leather bound books I feel that I'm looking at decoration, not reading material..."

Yes, but hardcover does not necessarily mean leather bound and the covers - even of books within the same series - may not match. Many hard covers are nothing more than chipboard covered with paper - sometimes slick, sometimes not so slick. Some of the better hard covers are cloth-covered chipboard. That cloth may be but is not always buckram.

Mar 15, 2011, 12:39pm Top

Mass-market paperbacks for me. Or books of similar format with better production values. Takes more to fill a shelf, cheaper, no remorse to backpack them around, and sometime SF/F/F gets released straight to MMP anyway, or keeps being reprinted regularly only in that shape. They hold time and re-readings well enough IMO for personal or family use as long as kept out of direct sunlight.

I have a some tradesize and hardcovers, and if that's how I got the titles I won't be rushing to replace them with MMP, but they were usually gifts or acquired used.

Edited: Mar 15, 2011, 4:07pm Top

When I was young, all my books stayed on my parent's little 2 shelf bookcase in the living room. As a teenager, my books all stayed in my room, although I didn't have tons of them, because I used the library. The ones I bought were PB (cheaper) the ones given to me HB.

The older I get, the more books I get, and now (I'll be 60 in August) I have so many books that when I move, there are more books than anything else--65 book boxes last move. There is a pretty even mixture of PB and HB, and even several matched sets, which I don't just display on the shelves, but actively read.

Now that I have arthritis, I have a Kindle, and am putting many books on there, especially the "heavier" ones.

Because my books are for reading, not decorating, HB or PB format is determined by what appeals to me at the time of purchase, and what I have the cash for, of course.

May 28, 2011, 9:03am Top

i hate hardbacks
they make my flimsy selves fall down!!!!!!!!! and they costmore and they are heavy to carry around
you can't look clever carrying around a heavy tome

May 28, 2011, 9:14am Top

Some favoured authors I get in hard cover, when they're first out, paperbacks are mostly bought used, unless I'm caught out somewhere without anything to read and facing a long wait. Mostly hardcovers from the library, as I find paperbacks too annoying to paw through. My shelves are pretty much half and half.

Jun 10, 2011, 10:32am Top

My hubby filled the back wall of our living room with built-in bookshelves for me. Only hardcovers go on those shelves. I keep all of them, with the exception of the ones I couldn't abide, which go up for trade. I have a custom-built book case going towards my kitchen that houses my cookbooks & select paperbacks. Upstairs, I have a small antique case that was my grandmother's that holds paperbacks & the books to be traded. I love, love, love my books & an so happy that they are able to be a (functional) part of my decor!

Jun 10, 2011, 1:15pm Top

Hardcovers are more aesthetically pleasing, but my wrists prefer paperbacks or small hardcover books. Alas, hardcovers just seem to keep getting bigger and bigger.

Jun 10, 2011, 1:20pm Top

I definitely prefer paperbacks. They are cheaper, easier to read/handle and for some strange reason (cheap paper I guess?) tend to smell better. Hardcover may actually look better on shelves, I will give them that, but for me any library makes the best of decoration in a room anyway.

Jun 10, 2011, 6:21pm Top

I like hardbacks of books I'm likely to reread many times (books by my 4 or so favorite authors, for example). Other than that, I don't care a whole lot.

Except that I have started thinking about how annoying it will be to move with all my books one day, so occasionally I do things like replace the hardback copy of a book I don't expect to reread too frequently with a paperback copy. And I really should think more about cost, so that's another point in favor of paperbacks.

Jun 10, 2011, 7:00pm Top

I'm a bit of a book snob in that I much prefer hard covers to paperback. Paperbacks just look cheap (lol). Luckily, hard covers over here are pretty cheap!

Jun 11, 2011, 5:12am Top

Paperbacks all the way for me - they are easier to hold curled up in bed. I agree that books should look like reading material on the shelf rather than decoration and I love the look of a well thumbed book - it's like a picture of an old friend.

Jun 11, 2011, 5:27am Top

#28 And my old friends are well-thumbed too ;-)

Jun 11, 2011, 5:27am Top

Some of them too well thumbed, but I'll still replace (if possible) with paperbacks.

Jul 4, 2011, 10:12am Top

I tell you why i dislike hardbooks. I've got the whole of jeffry archers books hes written in hardback and they are massive, no kidding, they take up so much room it's unbelievable.

Jul 5, 2011, 5:46am Top

#32 Of all the reasons to hate your Jeffrey Archer books . . . ;-)

Jul 5, 2011, 5:58am Top

I only buy hardbacks when they are cheap. Otherwise I'll wait for the paperback. But I am very careful and try not to break or crease the back... And all books belong on my shelves :D

Jul 5, 2011, 6:03am Top

32 you are so right.
i read his prison diaries and I wouldn't recommend them to a first time reader of archer, he moans cos he got locked up for 22 hours in the day, let out for a break for 2, hold on isn't he meant to be locked up, isn't that his punishment?
I mean I always find that funny. locked up 22 hours in the day, what does he expect?

Jul 5, 2011, 3:41pm Top

Ok I admit it I used to be such a book snob, if it wasn't hard covered I would not buy it. I figured by the time I get in my 60's I would need a whole house for just my books even with the higher cost of hard covers. .... Now? give me both. With the economy the way it is if I don't love it I won't spend the money on hard cover. Besides, I think my shelves look more like a true readers library now that they are a more hodpodge collection of books. Don't get me wrong I still love my hard covers but I find I can love paperback too.

Jul 6, 2011, 10:46am Top

I like buying books in the hardcover. I think that they last longer. I have many paperbacks in my personal bookshelves. However, as work, I hate that they are paperbacks on school library shelves. Because, the popular books are checked out a lot, they often get ripped and torn. The students really don't take care of the paperbacks as well as the hardcovers. I try to purchase only hardbacks for my school library.

Jul 6, 2011, 11:01am Top

Books that I read and re-read I like to have in hardback in the hope that they will last better. I also find hardbacks more comfortable to read because they usually lie open more easily than a paperback. A thick paperback can be an effort to hold open and sometimes even difficult to read near the spine. Not all hardbacks are easy to hold though - one I'm reading at the moment creaks with every slight movement - very distracting!

I now have a Kindle and I find that very comfortable to hold and read from, but I like to have books in my house - we have over 3,000 spread throughout - for the look of them and so that visitors can see what I read. That's the main disadvantage of a Kindle - no-one can see what you're reading.

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