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?
I prefer trade edition paperbacks, for the most part, because I do a lot of my reading on the subway, and hardcovers get really heavy and unwieldy. They’re also better for reading in bed, especially when they have to rest on a pregnant belly!
I also tend to prefer the way that trade paperbacks look, mainly because they seem to age more gracefully than the paper covers on most hardcovers. However, hardcovers survive rereadings better than paperback, and you kind of can’t beat the feeling of scoring a brand new book hot off the presses.
About a year ago, I was walking in Park Slop Brooklyn with a friend of mine, and we passed by a stack of books that someone had left out on the curb. Discarded books always call to me, and lo and behold this particular stack contained pristine hardcover copies of George RR Martin’s A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. I quickly snatched them up and bookmooched away my paperback copies. I have A Feast for Crows in paperback, and I’m still hoping to find A Game of Thrones hardcover on bookmooch or elsewhere. I’d love to have a complete collection.
Now, I ought to add that the hardcover/paperback debate is one I think of constantly, because of my obsession with what James Kunstler calls The Long Emergency. Some people build bomb shelters, I’m building a library against the day when oil becomes too scarce to sustain our current way of life. (Of course, I do have faith in new energy sources and also have hopes that Kunstler is an alarmist.) But here’s my dilemma–hardcovers last longer, so ostensibly they’d be the wiser choice for a library to sustain me into my dotage. However, if the lights really do go off we might be forced into a more primitive way of living, in which case paperbacks will take up less space and be easier to carry in case we turn into nomads.
I’m totally insane, I know. At the very least, I’ll be the one clutching my copy of War and Peace as I wait to have stone soup poured into my tin cup at the peak oil refugee camp. Where I’m going to get a tin cup is another story, but it fits the picture, don’t you think?