5 Reasons I Don’t Like Hardbacks (And One Reason I Do)

IMG_9156When I used to work in mobile crisis, we periodically had downtime. One day, when my partner was out for the day, I worked with an older guy. When he asked if I wanted to go to a bookstore, I couldn’t say “yes!” loud enough.

We ended up in this dim, narrow bookstore which mostly had hardback books. It smelled the way old bookstores should: book glue, dust, and leather. This guy explained that he liked this store because they had so many hardbacks, and he could get them “wrapped.” As in, wrapped in some kind of plastic to preserve the cover.

I was perplexed. This might be a naive thing to say, but I didn’t think people voluntarily bought hard backed books. I thought people only bought hardbacks when they couldn’t wait for the paperback. And in the Kindle age, even that’s not necessary.

Another friend of mine prefers hardbacks because she likes to keep things neat and new-looking, and hardbacks are easier to do that with. I suppose I should be a good supporter of other authors and buy the hardbacks, but I’m just not into them. Even if I find a cheap copy of something I want at Goodwill, if it’s in hardback, I’ll probably pass.

  1. They take up too much room on my bookshelf. I only have a limited amount of space, and I want to maximize the number of books they can house.
  2. They’re too big/ bulky/ heavy. Hardbacks are heavy! I have to hold them two-handed, which is annoying, since I like to read when I eat, am in the bathtub, sometimes when I’m outside playing with the dogs. Plus, hardbacks weigh down my purse and make it feel like I’m carrying bricks.
  3. The paper cover! Do I leave it on and let it get raggedy? (I’m really hard on books) Or do I take it off, likely put it in a safe place (so safe I can’t find it) and then lose it?
  4. I have to wait. Or buy it twice. I wanted to buy Our Dark Duet when it was released back in July, but I have This Savage Song (the first in the series) in paperback. Since I prefer series to match, when possible, I knew that no matter how I bought it, I was going to have to re-buy it in paperback. The library wouldn’t get it quickly enough to suit me. So… I went with Kindle. It doesn’t take up any room on my shelves, and I won’t have to get rid of it when I buy it in paperback.
  5. They’re not recyclable. This isn’t a huge issue for me because the idea is that I’ll keep my books. But I know, from reading bookstore blogs, that sometimes they throw out books because there are just too many of them. The DaVinci Code and Twilight come to mind. (I’m not hating on either of these books; I just remember the article identified these two as ones they get too many of.)

A caveat:

Hardbacks are more durable. They’re normally made from better paper, and the binding is put together better. So, if I owned my collection in hardback, I wouldn’t have tape holding together my copies of Watership Down and Lightning (by Dean Koontz). I actually own Harry Potter and most Dean Koontz books in both hardback and paperback for that reason.

Are you Team Hardback or Team Paperback?

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7 comments on “5 Reasons I Don’t Like Hardbacks (And One Reason I Do)

  1. scr4pl80 says:

    Tough one, especially about the paper covers. I have been repurposing old hardbacks that I get from the second hand store as junk journals. That is a tough one too as I gut the book for the most part and use the pages as embellishments elsewhere. It would have been sacrilegious for me to think of that years ago but now that I have seen some beautiful journals made out of books that would have been burned or thrown away, I don’t feel so bad. For reading, paperbacks are much easier to hold and deal with since I read in bed at night.

  2. Hm. Never gave it much thought. I’ll buy either. I guess it just depends on which one I find first (since I tend to buy old, used copies and almost never buy brand new releases) and the attendant price.

  3. Ramona Mead says:

    I prefer reading paperbacks because they’re lighter, but I love the look and feel of a beautiful hardcover. I keep my eye out for nice hardbacks of my favorite books. I think they display better on my shelves!

    • doreeweller says:

      Costco has these beautiful editions of some books, including Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t let myself buy them last time I was there, but I’m perhaps rethinking it.

  4. […] 5 Reasons I Don’t Like Hardbacks (And One Reason I Do) […]

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