Hardcover or Paperback

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Which one do you prefer?

Library Binding
I rip off my covers
I wish I could spell hardcover
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Hardcover or Paperback

Postby Shro » Mon Jul 23, 2007 3:56 pm UTC

So, I was thinking about this, and realized I much prefer reading books in paperback than in hardcover. I decided that they are much more friendlier. There's something about an old dog-eared paperback that just says 'Read Me!' Also, hardcovers are too heavy to hold (for me) because I'm a puny wimp and don't like holding them for extended periods of time. That and I usually read books for hours on end, so a nice, light paperback is much more comfortable.

So, what do you think? I added lot's of options, as to not disenfranchise anybody. :P
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Postby Phenriz » Mon Jul 23, 2007 3:58 pm UTC

hardcover, paperbacks get ratty, there's nothing more appealing (in the book world) than a jacketless hardcover book.

A worn hardcover looks god, a worn paperback....meh.
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Postby Durinthal » Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:10 pm UTC

For reading? Paperback. For collecting? Hardback.

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Postby PatrickRsGhost » Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:16 pm UTC

I prefer hard cover both ways, for reading and collecting. Hard cover tends to last a bit longer, if you have a good enough publishing company who uses a good binder. Some hard covers have fallen apart, as have many paperback.

Plus, with hard covers you can always do this:


Of course, it only works with librarians or bookstore owners/clerks. It might work for a hard cover book collector.

Oh, and usually after the first or second re-read, I take off the slipcovers/jackets on the hard cover books and throw them away. Those things are a pain sometimes. Sure, you miss the cover art and the blurb in the flaps if it's been a while since you last read the book and you need a refresher. But I've been taught another way to decide on a book: Read a couple of pages. If it sounds good, the whole book might be good.

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Postby Durinthal » Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:24 pm UTC

Paperbacks are more portable, so I try to get those when I'm able and just want to read the book.

I also take the slip cover off of any hardback I get while I'm reading (it's distracting and gets in my way), then put it back on once I'm done.

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Postby Nyarlathotep » Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:53 pm UTC

Paperbacks when I want to go somewhere; hardcovers when I want the book to be around and readable in a few years.

Also, hardcovers can be works of art in their own right. I read Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler only becuase the book had a gorgeous black cover with silvered pages and it caught my eye whilst I was wandering through my school's library (I know, don't judge a book by it's cover). It was a very good read and it made me feel special to have this beautiful book sitting on my dormroom floor... made my room automatically more sophisticated, despite the Kingdom Hearts and Disney posters all over it.
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Postby Tractor » Mon Jul 23, 2007 5:54 pm UTC

Paperbacks. Hardcovers get too awkward when reading.
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Postby Vaniver » Mon Jul 23, 2007 6:00 pm UTC

Hardbacks. The only question for me is whether to discard the dust jacket or not; they get beat up far easier than the book itself, and while they sometimes look good, the spine of the book itself is generally as imposing / beautiful.
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Postby Hammer » Mon Jul 23, 2007 6:12 pm UTC

Hardcover for keeping and treasuring.

Paperback for affordability, portablility and reading in the bathtub (lighter and easier to hold one-handed).
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Postby Tractor » Mon Jul 23, 2007 6:36 pm UTC

Hammer wrote: (lighter and easier to hold one-handed).

Exactly. I don't want to have to tie up both hands holding the book.
Usually I end up trying anyway with the hardcovers, never goes well.
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Postby xooll » Mon Jul 23, 2007 7:48 pm UTC

Paperback all the way. I generally read lying on my back, holding the book one-handed. For long books, this is quite impossible if it's hardbound.
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Postby warhorse » Mon Jul 23, 2007 8:23 pm UTC

Hardback for aesthetic reasons. A worn paperback is comforting to read, but it doesn't look good on a bookshelf where it spends most of its time.
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Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Jul 23, 2007 8:41 pm UTC

I like paperbacks as they are lighter, and you can hold them in one hand while reading in the bath. I love reading in the bath. My favorite are trade paperbacks, since they have all of the advantages of hardbacks with none of the disadvantages, but I even prefer mass-market paperbacks to hardbacks.
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Postby __Kit » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:34 pm UTC

I just voted paperback, because I don't think I've ever read a hardback.

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Postby GhostWolfe » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:45 pm UTC

Durinthal wrote:For reading? Paperback. For collecting? Hardback.

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Postby Phenriz » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:47 pm UTC

ultimately, i'm a book collector. I usually read a book once or twice then it goes onto a shelf.

Hardbacks are beautiful.
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Postby GhostWolfe » Mon Jul 23, 2007 10:51 pm UTC

I <3 my few battered and well-loved paperbacks that I've read several times over, but you cannot pass a quality hardcover for sheer beauty and durability. Ideally (in a universe where I have lots and lost of money), I'd buy a hard and soft over of everything. One for reading and getting battered carting about, one for the eternal glass-fronted bookshelf I would no doubt also be able to afford with all this money.
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Postby prime » Mon Jul 23, 2007 11:58 pm UTC

I agree with everyone else here: paperbacks you can hold up in one hand and are nice and small, especially mass market sized ones (and you can get them to stay open in a nice crease). Most hardbacks are too big/heavy/unwieldy to hold in one hand, but they look very nice.

On dust jackets: I would never throw one away, but I take it off and put it somewhere while I'm reading the book. Then I put in back on for the shelf prettyness.

Ultimately if I have a choice, I pick paperback because it's cheaper and easier to hold when reading. Who's scrutinizing the state of books on my shelves?

Strangely, I also seem to read paperback books faster just because of the convenience of their size.

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Postby Dibley » Tue Jul 24, 2007 1:24 am UTC


I like hardbacks (though I hate dust jackets), but trade paperbacks are really awesome. Mass-market paperbacks suck, though.

The best binding of all, though is leather, like the kind on a good bible. I once saw a collectors edition lord of the rings, with leather binding onion skin paper (the really thin strong kind), and a really gorgeous cover. I was consumed with overpowering book-lust, though I couldn't afford it.

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Postby Zohar » Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:22 am UTC

I don't worry as much about paperbacks and they're easier to carry around (in a backpack for example). If there's some sort of special edition (Absolute Sandman, Complete Chronicles of Narnia) then I'm happy to have hardcover because I wouldn't take that book out too much anyway.
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Postby Maseiken » Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:09 pm UTC

Usually I can cope with a Paperback,
But if you've got a Hardback with a fabric cover and it's all nice... sweet...
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Postby OmenPigeon » Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:34 pm UTC

Paperback 4ever.

My favorite books are always the ones I can put in my back pocket and carry around all day. This pretty much excludes anything with a rigid binding.

Hardcovers do age better, but if you treat them nice, a good paperback book will last quite a long time. I just finished read a collection of essays by Camus that I pulled off my father's bookshelf. It was published in 1968. Granted, the cover fell off when I was halfway through and I had to put it back on with scotch tape, but it's not like the book's about to disintegrate.
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Postby evilbeanfiend » Tue Jul 24, 2007 1:30 pm UTC

it depends. i tend to prefer fiction in paperback but i prefer hardback for reference books
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Postby tarkadal » Tue Jul 24, 2007 1:35 pm UTC

Hmm, this is tough. I went paperback, but I much prefer the large format paperbacks. Sure, they are a bit unwieldy, but I find them better to read. The hardness of the hardcovers just doesn't sit right, especially if you are trying to curl up in odd positions to read in bed. Dust jackets too are decidedly non-optimal. That being said, large and tall books, such as reference books have to be hardcover. They just don't sit right otherwise and being reference books, they need a little bit of clunkiness about them. I like a good reference book.
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Postby UmbrageOfSnow » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:43 am UTC

I voted hardcover, because I find them harder to damage, and I'm fanatical about book safety. Every little scratch to the cover or fold in a page drives me crazy. I inspect books for page creases before I buy them.

Somehow, I'm able to suspend this for old, musty looking paperbacks, I don't mind reading the small paperbacks, actually kind of enjoy the portability of them, but I'd rather own hardcover. I can't stand the big paperbacks, they have all the worst qualities of both formats, big, unwieldy, and easily damaged.
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Postby J » Sun Sep 02, 2007 12:25 am UTC

Paperbacks. I buy books to read them, not to look at them, and paperbacks are both easier to bring along and cheaper.

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Postby Traisenau » Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:23 am UTC

Hammer wrote:Hardcover for keeping and treasuring.

Paperback for affordability, portablility and reading in the bathtub (lighter and easier to hold one-handed).


Also, a couple of my really old paperbacks have started to fall apart, for instance I had to buy a new copy of Dragons: Autumn Twilight after the last 50 pages fell out of my old paperback copy and disappeared somewhere(later the book itself disappeared... never did find it)
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Postby Amicitia » Sun Sep 02, 2007 1:44 am UTC

A note that people haven't mentioned, there are cheap hardcovers and paperbacks that never last as long as the stitched ones, which I prefer.

When you're reading the likes of Richard Rhodes or other prolific works, the difference in mass of hardcover and paperback seems marginal.

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Postby Lyra Ngalia » Sun Sep 02, 2007 3:15 am UTC

Mass market paperbacks for reading and enjoying, because they are cheaper and significantly more portable.

Hardbacks for actually collecting, though there have not been that many that I've wanted badly enough to get hardbacks for.

I personally loathe trade paperbacks because while they're middle ground pricewise, they're just as prone to damage (if not more so sometimes) than mass market paperbacks, and just as unwieldy to carry as hardbacks. There have been too many times when reading a floppy trade paperback that the page has torn/damaged from overenthusiastic flipping.

Granted, given how many times I've had to replace some of my favorite books due to damage from lending and overreading, it might be wise to just invest in hardbacks for those.
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Postby Narsil » Sun Sep 02, 2007 2:48 pm UTC

Paperback, though a hard cover is a nice thing to have on a shelf. I'll give an example: when I first read the book, Dune, it was a paperback, and I beat the crap out of that book. School, car, home, beach, ect. Then later I found a really awesome hardcover on sale. This one I will probably never read.

Also, don't lend hardcover books to people. Bad. Idea. I've lost at least four Harry Potter books that way. All ones that I bought on the first day. And by "lost", I mean I got it back, but you know, pages torn out, entire chapters falling out of the book, that sort of thing.
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Postby Cassi » Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:18 pm UTC

I'm agreeing with pretty much all that's been said already -- while hardcovers may look nice on my shelves, I'd rather buy more paperbacks that are more convenient to read.

And absolutely on the bath thing -- I hate trying to read hardcovers in the bath, I'm always afraid I'll drop them in, and it spoils the relaxation of the whole thing...

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Postby dumbclown » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:01 pm UTC

Paperbacks. When someone wants to borrow a book of you, if it is hardback they usually put the hands up and say "no, no it is alright I think I've caught the Glaucoma sorry I can't read the book anymore". Hardbacks look like you just collect books as well and never read them.

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Postby Cassi » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:07 pm UTC

Am I the only one who pretty much never lends people books? I just don't trust them.

I think I've only ever let anyone borrow two books -- one was my extra copy of HHGTTG (which I never got back...granted, I do have another copy, but my other copy is the 5 in one and no good for reading in the bath), and one was The Perks of Being a Wallflower, because the library didn't have it and the bookstore had to order it (I got it back with a tea stain on one of the pages -- I was not impressed). And these were to good friends.

I've also only ever borrowed a book once, and that was because the person really wanted me to read it and knew I wouldn't bother to get it (library didn't have it, bookstore only had it in hardcover and I didn't want to spend the money). I felt incredibly paranoid while I had it, and was sure to finish it that night and give it back the next day...

Unless lending/borrowing to/from my stepdad counts, but as he's in the same house, I can keep an eye on things.

...And I just managed to turn what was supposed to be an offhand and off topic comment into a rather long thing. Sorry about that. XD

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Postby ks_physicist » Sun Sep 02, 2007 6:58 pm UTC

A book I plan to read once? Paperback. Trade paper, preferably, but pulp if that's all that's available.

A book I plan to keep forever, read multiple times, or give as a gift? Hardback.

Minor exception: VERY often read books, I will have in both hardback and paperback or trade paper. Paperbacks go into a bag/backpack/briefcase well, and are cheap to replace when damaged.

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Postby Aeltar » Mon Sep 03, 2007 2:54 am UTC

Hardcover either way. They feel...better in my hands. It hurts them to hold a smallish book for too long (they're very big). Also, pretty. A hardcover book on a shelf (or, ideally, series of books sorted alphabetically, with identical black covers) looks much better than a series of paperbacks. I always take off the dust cover too, and get yelled at it for it. I dust them every other day anyway! What do you care?
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Postby lowbrass » Mon Sep 03, 2007 6:19 am UTC

Hardcover FTW. They're nice to look at on my bookshelf, they're more sturdy, won't fall apart when they're carried around in my backpack, and most lie open very easily; I don't have to hold them open like a paperback. But if I'm between paychecks and I can't find it at any of my local used bookstores, then more often than not I will settle for paperback because I am TEH BROKE.

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Postby podbaydoor » Mon Sep 03, 2007 8:49 am UTC

Paperbacks are cheaper and more portable. But, hardcovers don't do that annoying thing where the cover keeps curling upwards and won't lay flat, and it's less likely for them to be bent out of shape.
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Postby Phi » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:01 am UTC

Hardcover. My bookshelf is right next to me, and when I look over I want to see a bunch of hardcover books organized, not paperbacks, which tend to be in all sorts and sizes (hardcovers are too, but less so).
I don't understand what is difficult about reading a hardcover either (sans bathtub case, but I take showers). Paperbacks get bent and I am bothered to a large extent by paperbacks with covers that are bent back. It makes me twitch sometimes. I do not understand why people feel the need to bend the pages ALL OF THE WAY BACK to the other side of the book, forming somewhat of a spiral with the cover of the book. I was horrified when this happened to one of my books.

Also, is everyone else extremely careful when they receive other peoples' books? I mean, even if all of their books are already falling apart, I'm extremely careful and feel guilty if I mess anything up. Treat it how you'd like it to be treated, I suppose. [Note: I don't lend books to people who aren't careful with my books.]

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Postby Pobega » Tue Sep 04, 2007 3:19 pm UTC

Definitely paperback for reading. A hardcover I'd rather keep on my shelf, to look at. Most of my signed books are hardcovers, while I have paperback copies of each of the books for my own use.

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Postby jack » Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:12 pm UTC

Paperback for reading and hardback for collecting, as has been said. For this reason I don't buy hardbacks unless I have to, because I only buy books I will read.

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