Similarly to my previous discussion of the pro’s and cons of eBooks vs. physical books, there’s another discussion that’s been around for decades; are paperbacks better or are hardcovers?
When I was growing up I almost exclusively read paperback novels and rarely got to buy a luxurious hardcover. I think one of the reasons why was because of how many titles I went through in such a short time so it was more economical, giving more money to buy many rather than a few. The other reason I mostly read paperbacks were because these are, to this day, much more readily available and easily mass-produced. Whereas any hardcover requires a lot more cost in publication and less in the was of profit. And they aren’t overly budget friendly for most of us.
Paperbacks, as I said are much easier and cheaper to mass-produce meaning that its then cheaper for the consumers. They’re easier to carry around in your pocket or bag and are far easier to hold. But they have less of a life-span, these days more than decades past. We live in an economy where the cheaper it is, the less robust they are and the more you spend the better the quality… sometimes.
So, why are hardbacks still available if they are more costly? If you’re like me and buy books in the hopes to not only practically live in a library but to also share with your future generations, a hardcover is far more likely to survive decades unscathed. But they do come with a higher price tag and are usually come as a collectable or special edition.
The way a paperback and hardback are bound is similar in that the pages are glued. But paperbacks are literally just that, glue and a softcover to protect those precious pages. Whereas a hardcover is made of a slightly tougher glue and the board gives it an extra layer of protection. If you’re looking for any of your favourite titles to last centuries and not just decades, a library binding is far superior. They not only are a hardcover with a strong adhesive but they are also sewn. Each text has a wedge of pages stacked, called signatures, that are then sewn to each signature, then glued together to add another layer. After that they are bound in a board-cover and secured in place by the end-pages. Cool right? The reason a library bound book is so much more durable and thought about is because of the amount of hands it exchanges, the amount of people that have turned its pages, dropped it, shoved it in their bag – you name it. So to make the overall costs lower on the libraries, they invest in a higher quality binding.
So really, the differences between a paperback or hardcover are slight. The lux of owning a hardcover still stands and feels more substantial. I personally prefer pre-ordering a hardcover, if they are available, in a special edition binding or of that nature because, even though they cost more to make, they are usually for a limited run so then there is a slight dip in the environmental impact. And most of the time, the books I buy I love or pass on to friends, family or my local library.
Much like the entirety of the publishing world, it’s all down to personal preference. If you buy a paperback copy to just indulge your need for literature or you splash-out on a hardcover so you have something to treasure for years to come, its all up to you. All that really matters is that you’re reading and that you’re enjoying it!
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