Somebody kill the hardcover.

I’ve written in the past about my preference for paperbacks over hardcovers – in fact, had to put down Black Swan Green over it, cursing the entrenched ways of doing business.  Scott brings it forth again, links to Levi Asher’s recent investigations into the business of hardcovers and tosses in his two cents:

Actually, I must say that I prefer the paperback format. To me, hardcovers have always felt far too bulky, like some kind of ugly Volvo misbreed built with rivets in nations still on an Eastern Bloc footing. (The obvious exception to this are those lovely smallish Modern Library hardcovers that can almost fit in your pocket.) I also have some unfailing association of hardcovers with big, embossed gold lettering and a huge back-cover picture of some middle-aged dame, perhaps with a golden retriever in her lap. Obviously, this doesn’t bring to mind good literature.

Needless to say, I have much more favorable associations with paperbacks, although I do definitely prefer the matte finish to the glossy. For some reason, glossy covers on paperbacks feel cheap to me, like they were just kind of pasted on at the end. (Maybe this has to do with the fact that ARCs tend to have glossy, pasted-on covers.) Inside flaps are also nice, and I do prefer a well-designed cover, even though I know this has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the writing and is terribly superficial of me.

I don’t see it as superficial; it’s part of the package.  It’s only superficial if you judge a book solely on the cover/presentation.  It’s why we prefer, say, a certain style of house over another – that inner need to have things around to look at that are pleasing to the eye.  If someone’s preferred means of lightening an otherwise dark day is to pick up a book, it matters, the weight of the thing, the flexibility, the appeal of the cover: the whole package. 

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One thought on “Somebody kill the hardcover.

  1. Superficial? Not at all. Your reasons are dead on, but I even go this far: making sure the book cover is up to standards so that what I’m reading in public or have sitting on my coffee table looks good! For the same reasons why I wouldn’t be caught dead in 1980’s parachute pants donning a freshly greased mullet (not that I ever did). This is also why new editions are necessary.

    And I’m also for quality paperback printings over hardcover. Except maybe with poetry. The slim hardcovers lay open nicely on a table, where a paperback always needs to be held open.

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