Format February 21, 2008
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?
At one time I was only interested in buying hardcover books, because I was newly married and loved the way bookshelves looked (with books on them!) Mine were basically empty so I needed to start filling them up, and let’s face it, hardcovers look better on the shelves. But that was then. Now I almost never buy hardcover books. I prefer the feel of a paperback in my hands. They are more portable, lighter, easier to hold, and definitely more affordable. I can dogear or highlight without guilt. I’m not worried about a kid with sticky fingers touching my books if they are paperbacks. I want them to be accessible to the whole family.
It’s funny, though, I rarely keep my books anymore. Once I’ve read them, I lend, share, send, donate, and leave behind all my best books. People who know me will tell you that I am the type to constantly be pressing a book into their hands, no doubt annoying the heck out of them (at least I don’t drive them insane by asking them, “Did you read that book I gave you?”). The only books I make a point to keep are the ones we read with my book club so that I can reference them later if I need to.
But the question was about a library, so.. I’m thinking, is this a library I want to use all the time? Or one I want to impress others? If it’s purely about looks, then fill it with hardcovers. If it’s about practicality and ease of use, bring on the paperbacks. The exception would be my best loved, most cherished books. I’d want them in hardcover, so that they’d last longer, but probably after I’ve read them in paperback. Must I make a choice in this perfect world we’re talking about? Can’t I have both? And can someone else please do the dusting in this perfect library?