Dear Literary Lady,
Hardcovers vs. paperbacks?
–V.S., Charlotte, NC
Oh that’s a tough one! I’ll answer that question like any good lawyer—it depends.
I prefer hardcovers:
- When I’ve been desperately awaiting the release of the book for months and I cannot wait until the paperback version is released to read it. (I’m looking at you, Go Set a Watchman!)
- When I know I’m going to be lending the book out to family members, friends, and coworkers (because hardcovers are more durable!).
- If the book is part of a series or collection, and I have all the other books in hardcover already.
- If I’m buying the book as a gift for someone.
- If I dream of meeting the author one day and asking them to sign it.
- If it’s a very long, dense, and difficult book and I want everyone to notice me reading it and think I’m terribly clever.
- If I love the cover on the hardcover version
- If I know that 50 years from now a first edition of this book will be a valuable item in my collection.
- If I know I’m going to read at the beach, by the pool, or in the bathtub, and the book might need to survive getting splashed.
I prefer paperbacks:
- When I’m traveling with the book.
- When I feel like being frugal.
- When I need to fit the book into my purse and I anticipate a long, boring day of errands.
- When I own all the other books by the same author in paperback.
- When I like the paperback cover better than the hardcover.
- Whenever the thought of moving apartments crosses my mind and I contemplate all the boxes I’ll have to carry.
- Whenever I find myself unexpectedly splurging on multiple books at once and I need to lug them around all day.
- Whenever I know I’m going to read it on my commute, and I have to hold the book open in one hand while hanging onto the subway strap with the the other.
- Whenever I have to inconspicuously sneak a book into a wedding, a sports bar, a bad date, and other places where I probably shouldn’t be reading.
Suffice to say—it’s a tie between hardcovers and paperbacks for me, and I’ll never be able to pick one definitively over the other. In an ideal world, I’d have one of each for every book I love!
Love and paperbacks,