Booking Through Thursday 2-21: “Format”

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All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Well over 90% of the books in my home library are paperbacks – the large format, “trade” variety. (And when I say “large,” I’m talking about the size of the book itself, not the print – although I don’t doubt that the day is coming for that too, and probably sooner than I’d like.) Even if price and storage space were non-issues, I’m pretty sure that would still be the case.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a book buyer rather than a library borrower; I like having books at hand whenever the mood strikes, and I very much prefer being the first to read them, so I don’t frequent used bookstores either. I’ll notice when new books come out in hardcover, but there are very few that I’m not willing to wait to read until the paperback edition comes out. However, when someone has asked me for a Christmas or birthday gift idea, I have been known to give them the titles of a few new hardcovers – and I will buy hardcovers as gifts for other people myself.

I don’t do much genre reading, and since it seems like that’s what is getting published more often in the smaller “mass-market” paperback size these days, I don’t have nearly as many books of that format in my collection as I used to.

I find the large paperback more comfortable to read than a hardcover, especially if I’m reclining. They’re also generally smaller and thinner than hardcovers, so they’re more easily portable; if I’m shopping for a new purse, I’ll actually consider how much room it has to accommodate a book. There’s no dust cover to come loose or tear. Since I try to make sure I have a book with me nearly everywhere I go, I do think about these attributes. Also, even though we’ve said money is no object here, paperbacks are still less expensive than hardcovers, so I can buy more of them! It’s a good thing we also said storage space isn’t an object either, in that case.

But unlike HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, I tend to believe that all of these book formats will continue to co-exist peacefully for some time to come, and I doubt they’ll be fully replaced be e-books any time soon.

What do you think? Do you have a book-format preference? You can find out other readers’ opinions over at Booking Through Thursday.

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  1. I hope you’re right about all book formats continuing. I wasn’t able to choose, needing a different format for different occasions so I’m definitely going to need as many options as possible.

  2. TT – Yeah, me too; I hope I didn’t go out on a limb with that statement. My husband backed the wrong high-def DVD format, and now I hope his luck isn’t contagious…

  3. I have a gazillion mass market paperback books. As you indicated, most are genre fiction. It’s a size that works very well for me. I do prefer trade paperback when it comes right down to it though. It’s such a nice size and the quality of the books are better than the mass market. I tend not to buy hardcover books unless they are on sale or through Zooba (but bookclub hardcovers aren’t quite the same, are they?).

    I do not see e-books taking over anytime soon. Maybe some day in the far off future, but not tomorrow. My concerns about the e-book have little to do with the format itself, but more to do with the accessibility and quality.

  4. Literary Feline – If I have a choice between trade and mass-market paperback versions of the same title, I’ll go with the trade version even if it’s a little more expensive. They’re just nicer to read, I think.

    And although I do a lot of reading on the computer, obviously, I don’t really relish the idea that e-books could take over the traditional kind.

  5. I’m hoping that e-books will be just another format choice. They’re certainly cheaper for a publisher to produce!

    And yes, I’d rather have trade size, too. It fits better — into my bag, my hand, my sensibilities.

  6. Susan – E-books really aren’t a format I’ve had much exposure to, since I still prefer to read books that are printed on paper, but you do have a very good point there.