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?
A book is a diamond. A pearl. A sapphire. Perfectly cut and sparkling whether it sits on my shelf or I am holding it in my hands. The content, of course, is what really makes the book valuable to us as readers, although a nice cover never hurts.
Hardcover books are sturdy and strong. They can easily lay flat on a desk for easy reading when using hands is not possible. They look pretty on the shelf, somehow more formal and elegant. They are more difficult to hold with one hand and less convenient to lug around.
Mass market paperback books, the kind that will fit in your back pocket it you really want to stuff it in there (but, watch those edges!), were brilliant inventions. They are easy to hold, especially with one hand, and fit so nicely into purses and bags without being bulky or adding too much more weight. They do show the wear and tear more easily though and some have complained about the print size (I'm not quite there yet).
The slightly larger mass market paperbacks were designed with Baby Boomers in mind with slightly bigger print, bigger margins and a little added height to make them easier to hold. Or so the publishers say. I have not had too much experience with them to really say if they live up to their intended reputation.
Audio books and e-books are not formats I am too familiar with other than in name. I am not opposed to either, but neither have found a place in my life. Perhaps if I owned a decent e-reader I might consider trying e-books, but that is not likely to happen any time soon. An already bulging library of paper books does not make such an idea very practical. But then, the ability to take 25 plus books on a vacation in one little paperback size device sure is tempting! As for audio books, the only place I could see fitting them into my life is when I exercise, but that would require an iPod or an MP3 player, neither of which I own.
Now take the trade paperback book. Not too big and yet not too small. They are easy to hold and relatively light weight in terms of carrying around. They do not have the advantage of being quite as compact as the mass market paperback nor are they as sturdy as the hardback. They certainly do look attractive on the shelf though. There is just something about the trade paperback book that immediately draws me in. The size, the quality and the style all seem just right when it comes right down to it.
I have discovered over time that I enjoy certain types of books and, in some cases, even authors in specific formats over others. I do not know if this is because of cost or simply because the book seems more fitting wearing certain clothes. Although this is not true in every case, it seems to be a common preference that pops up.
The formats books come in all have their advantages as well as their disadvantages. I think it is obvious which I would prefer above the rest, but truth be told, in the end it does not matter because it is what is inside that counts. I may prefer a sapphire over a diamond, but I will gladly wear both (although I really would prefer a book, please).