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?


Book Samples

One of the best things about digital books is that you can get a “sample” of the book sent to your device.  That way, you can take a look at the book and decide you like it before you buy.  Most of us, when we go to the library or the bookstore, might read the first chapter or flip through the book to get a sense of whether or not it interests us.  I know that I can lose hours that way.

When digital books came out, that was one of my major complaints about it.  Almost any book sounds great from the blurb, but it’s impossible to get a true sense of whether or not it draws you in.

The idea for this post came to mind when I saw that James Patterson’s newest book is out, and they’re giving away the first 17 chapters.  17 chapters!  They’re pretty sure it’s a good book, because by then, you’ll either be sucked in… or you won’t.  Writers should have to stand on the merit of their work.

I’ll never switch over completely to digital books.  I love print books way too much.  There are some positives about digital books.  I know one person whose switched to digital because she ran out of bookshelf space.  You can’t hold a digital book in your hand, smell the pages or hear the crackle.  You can’t look at the stain on page 51 and remember you were eating nachos at the time and were so engrossed that you dripped some cheese on the page.  I love being able to hold a book in my hand, almost like a talisman.

So while I’ll read e-books sometimes… for me, print books will never die.

My New Kindle

I got an Amazon Kindle for Christmas.

Those of you who’ve been readers for a while know that I’m not keen to switch to ebooks.  I’ve actually blogged about how in my opinion, paper books will never become obsolete.  There’s nothing like picking up a book and hearing the crackle of pages, smelling the paper and glue, feeling the weight of the book.

I do like that my new Kindle is light.  Pretty much lighter than most paperbacks I own.  The screen really is as good as everyone says.  It looks like a real book page, and I can see how it will be pretty easy on the eyes.

There are good things about the Kindle.  I can carry an infinite number of books with me without having to worry about how heavy my bag gets.  (And oh yes, it does get heavy fast).  I can borrow and lend books with friends from faraway.  I definitely see the utility in it.

However, there are drawbacks.  You can’t pass down a beloved book, pages crinkled and stained, cover torn and bent to a loved one.  You can’t see the stain on p.43 and remember how you were so engrossed in the book that you dropped a blob of your fat free blueberry yogurt  on the page (or your ketchup covered fry… whichever).

Either way, it should help my goal of NOT buying every book I’m interested in.  My library continues to grow.  One of these days I’m going to have to buy a house to contain my book collection…

Free Books!!!

I don’t know if I’m slow on the uptake or not, but if I am, I can’t be the only one.

I refer to the fact that books that are out of copyright can be shared freely electronically.  I’ve found a few websites that distributes these books, but I haven’t been impressed with the interface.

Tonight, through a fortunate accident, I discovered that amazon.com “sells” free electronic versions of books for the Kindle.  Now, before you say, “But I don’t have a Kindle,” let me assure you that you don’t have to.  You can get Kindle for your Mac, your PC, your iPhone, or your iPad.  Then you can go download lots and lots of free books.

I’m so excited to have the classics at my fingertips.  Now I’ll never be without something to read!

Here’s the link: