For most of my life, I hated hardbacks. Too big and bulky and difficult to carry around. They were even difficult to hold up when I was a child reader. And the cost! Far more than my pocket money would stretch to. I could see that they looked posher and nicer on a bookshelf than paperbacks, but that wasn't enough for me when I could buy 2 or 3 paperbacks for the price of one hardback. Fans of hardbacks would tell me that hardbacks were worth the money because they lasted longer and didn't get creased and dog-eared like paperbacks, but I've always been one of those anal types who carries her paperbacks around in plastic covering and manages to read a whole book without ever breaking the spine - many of my books look completely unread to the untrained eye.
The final black mark against hardbacks was - and still is - that many books don't even get published in hardback, while every book will have a paperback copy. Another thing about anal types? We hate having mismatched sets! The idea of collecting a series in hardback, only for later books to be 'paperback originals', actually makes me shiver with dread. Better to just buy the paperbacks from the start, I've always thought.
So that was me and my attitude: Down with hardbacks! Paperbacks will do! Only, something happened. I became aware of book blogs; I started a book blog myself. And what did I see, week after week on IMMs? Hardbacks! Beautiful-looking hardbacks. Blogs also create hype; a need to have a book right away and not wait around for the paperback version. And while I've known for a while that it's better for the author if you buy hardbacks, I didn't really care until I started interacting with authors on their own blogs and on Twitter, found some I really liked and thought: Why not spend a bit extra if it will help them?
However, some of my earlier hang-ups still stand. I will only buy a hardback if (a) I have already read the book and *know* I love it, and (b) it's a standalone or the whole series is already published in hardback.
Other than being cheaper and more suitable for reading on the go than hardbacks, I don't feel like paperbacks have anything particularly special to recommend them. For a long time, they were just the other alternative. Now there's a new other alternative: E-books and they're even cheaper and even more portable. I purchased a Kindle about six months ago and have added dozens of books to it since then. However, it's taken me a while to adapt to reading on the Kindle; reading on it would take me longer as I found the device...distracting, I suppose. My eyes would constantly dart to the progression bar, I would keep changing the font size, etc. It took me reading at least 5 or 6 books on the Kindle before I got used to it and could just read, without the device preventing me from fully immersing myself in the story.
Now that I'm there, though? It's great. The convenience of carrying as many books as I like in one slim tablet really does outweigh most other concerns. Only...you can't pass e-books on after you've read them. And owning a book in e-format never seems like quite enough. When I first downloaded all the free classics, I thought I would get rid of my physical copies of Austen, Homer, the Brontes, etc. Only I couldn't bring myself to, even though these books are all on my Kindle. An e-book just feels...impermanent to me.
How do you feel? Do you love the beauty and style of hardbacks? Can you do better than me and give praise to the paperback? Or have you bought an e-reader and never looked back?