Thursday, February 21, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Format

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).


  1. I'm more of a paperback girl, and tradesize works well with me too... hardcovers are nice for display and for more lasting keeping purposes, but I hardly buy them unless they're from my favourite authors and I can't wait for their paperbacks to be released at a later date that might sometimes take a year or so...

    I haven't tried ebooks or audio books yet, although I'd still prefer to have a physical book in hand. ;)

  2. I have no desire to try an ebook. I really like holding the book and turning the pages. Also, I wonder how easy they are on the eyes. I have to resort to the reading glasses in the evenings now.

  3. I'm a huge fan of the Internet but I still like having a real book.

  4. Terrific post, Wendy! I agree - there is something about the trade paperback that really appeals to me...I love them :)

  5. I really like trade paperbacks too. Like you said not too big, not too small. I do like hardbacks too though sometimes and can easily be tempted by a beautiful dust cover.
    I do have an ipod but have never gotten into e-books. I still prefer to hold a book in my hands.

  6. My husband has been trying to convince me, but I cannot imagine myself reading an electronic book. Part of the reading experience is turning the pages. Like you, my library is a wide mixture of hardbacks and trade paperbacks, though I tend to stay away from mass-market and pocket sizes. They just fall apart too easily after five or six re-readings!

  7. This is probably the most well thought out answer to this question that I've read yet. Very nice very nice.

  8. Like you, there's things I love about all of them. I'm torn.

  9. Melody - I tend to get hardcover copies if I am too impatient to wait for the paperback version or I can get a very good deal on the book and not feel guilty about spending the money. Although they do look the nicest on the shelf, that's not a function I really look at when purchasing a book.

    BookGal - A couple of the modern e-readers are designed to be easy on the eyes and safer than if you sit in front of a computer to read. They aren't all that different than holding a paperback book. In some cases, lighter weight wise as well. And the print can be adjusted depending on your needs. I haven't met an e-reader that can turn the pages as fast as I can yet though and that's a real sticking point for me. Besides cost. :-)

    Teena - It's amazing where technology has taken us. You can check your e-mail on your phone now--even read a book on your phone. Not that the phone would be the ideal place to do it. LOL Imagine reading a book on such a tiny screen! Still, the e-readers out today are pretty impressive. It's not like it once was, where you have to sit in front of a computer to read an e-book. I do understand the romance of reading paper books because I feel the same way, but I am not adverse to trying new things when the time comes. Besides, for me, content is most important.

    Wendy - Thanks! I think trade paperbacks have found that perfect balance between hardcovers and mass market paperbacks. :-)

  10. Nikki - Most definitely! They all have their pros and cons. And we really don't have to chose do we? We can have them all!

  11. I normally buy the paperbacks more than any other formats. But I also have trade paperback too, and that work for me. Both easier for me to hold and read.

    I only buy hardcovers from my favorite authors. Some authors, that have an on going series I would buy in both formats but when it come to budget, I really have to chose to either wait for the books to be released in paperbacks after the hardcovers.

    You did perfect in given us the pro and the con of formats :) Have a happy weekend ahead

  12. I'm more of a paperback person since Ihave to tote things by public transportation, but one thing I love about new hardcover books is that small creaking noise they make when you open the front cover. Bookworm music.

  13. I enjoyed reading your answer -- and yes, I love trade paperbacks, too. That's my favorite kind of paperback! And though I had an e-book published before the publisher closed its doors, I'm not much of an e-book person, ha. :) And would you believe I have never listened to an audio book?

    Happy BTT!

  14. I'm like bookgal-e books just don't do it for me! I really like trade paperbacks, but I don't mind MM unless it's a really fat book, so I have to put creases in the spine in order to keep it open. I absolutely hate doing that. *shudder*

  15. e-books to not gel with me. Neither do audio ones. I think most of feel that way. Nothing like a real book, be it paperback or Hardcover!

    Booking through format

  16. Julia - My husband is like you when it comes to series--wanting to stick to the same format. I admit to being less concerned with format in that regard. I've got several series that I started in paperback, but because I started getting inpatient waiting for the new releases, I started buying them in hardcover. Not being much of a rereader, I haven't seen the need to go back and buy extra copies when the paperbacks come out.

    I hope you have a good weekend too!

    Bybee - Bookworm music--I love it! The creaking of a new hardcover when you first open it is a nice sound. :-)

    Thomma Lyn - I'm noticing that a lot of us prefer trade paperback books.

    Chris - LOL You can't beat a book! :-)

    Eva - I used to be a stickler about keeping the spine of my mass market paperbacks clean, but I've given up on that. I sometimes am able to avoid it, but I don't worry about it if one ends up there.

    Gautami - Books are great inventions and, I appreciate the different forms. We all may prefer one over the other, but even those we may not use make it possible for others to read who might not be able to or want to. And I think it makes all the formats worthy.

  17. I actually downloaded an e-book once but it was a short story that I couldn't find and was not willing to pay shipping for. I would never do a full length novel.
    Great answer!

  18. I don't even like to read short stories on the computer. I end up printing them out. I could probably read off an e-reader though as they aren't all that different in size than a book.

  19. I'm not fussy - as long as the words are good I don't mind what size it is. Although, these days I can't read the older, small p/backs without my specs.
    Some of my customers, however, are very particular. Some will only buy the samller size, usually because they fit in the purse or bag. Some will only buy the trade size, some only want hardbacks. Some are like me and don't care as long as it's a good read.
    Some not only want a specific size but a specific cover as well - usually the Fantasy readers.

  20. Julie - Exactly! It's the content that matters most. :-) I am near sighted at the moment and so don't need glasses for reading. Yet.

    I admit that I do take into consideration size when shopping for a new purse in relation to book carrying. At the same time, I don't want a giant purse either, so I usually try to stick to at least a paperback size purse.

    I've never not bought a book because of the format with the exception of not wanting to spend the money for a hardcover when I know I can easily wait for the less expensive paperback.

  21. Wow, what a thorough and well-written post. You covered it all perfectly. When I was planning our trip to Newfoundland, I was thinking about how many audio books we would need to check out and renew (since we would be gone 5 wks) and how to store them in the car for easy access, but not where more important things needed to be stored. Then my daughter reminded me that I owned an iPod. It was awesome to put 10-15 books on that one little device that stored easily in the glove compartment. We bought a car battery charger and just listened to books and music through the radio. All that to say, I like audio for traveling.

  22. Thank you, Booklogged! I think for a driving trip, your idea of audio books would be perfect (if hubby and I could agree on the books).


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