Hardcover vs Paperback: The Great Debate
Hi everyone! As you can probably tell from the title, today I’m going to be discussing the pros and cons of hardcovers and paperbacks.
Personally, I like both of them, but for very different reasons, and I thought it would be fun to talk about some of those reasons. I’m going to start by giving you what are, in my opinion, the pros and cons of each, and then discuss my general opinion in more detail at the end. Let’s get started, shall we?
- Aesthetic appeal
This doesn’t apply to all hardcovers, obviously, but in general, they tend to be prettier than paperbacks. They honestly just have more surface area to be pretty on. Hardcovers can have really beautiful endpapers that paperbacks can’t, and the actual outside of the book under the dust jacket can have cool designs stamped on them.
It’s undeniable that hardcovers are a lot sturdier than paperbacks. They’re not infallible, but you’d really have to try if you wanted to destroy a hardcover book. They’ll definitely last a lot longer than paperbacks.
- Removable dust jacket means less likely for cover art to be damaged
This is truer for the people who like to take the dust jackets off of their books while they’re reading them. I don’t usually do that, for a reason I’ll get to in the cons section, so the dust jackets on my books don’t stay pristine, but if you’re the kind of person who does, you don’t have to worry as much about rips or other kinds of damage.
- Stays open to your page pretty easily
This is particularly true when you’re in the middle of the book. If you’ve just started or you’re about to finish, you might have more difficulty. But otherwise, the fact that hardcovers stay open easier can be great for when you need to step away for a moment and you don’t have a bookmark handy. You can just leave the book open, and when you come back, it’ll most likely still be on the same page.
- Heavy and bulky—not super portable
This is one of the most obvious cons. I mentioned that the sturdiness of a hardcover is good because that means it’ll last longer, but that sturdiness also makes the book heavier, bulkier, and, usually, larger, which means that trying to fit it into your bag is going to be harder.
- Dust jacket easily lost
This is the reason why I don’t usually take the dust jacket off books when I read them. I’m a super forgetful person, so I know that if I did, I’d probably forget where I put it, and then it would be lost.
I’m a college student. I don’t have a ton of available money hanging around, and hardcover books are not cheap. I don’t buy books very often anyway. I typically prefer to get my books from the library or read the books I already own. Even when I do buy books, I tend to get them from places like BookOutlet, where the price is drastically reduced. Really, the only time I buy full-priced hardcovers is when it’s a book I’m really excited about.
Even at full price, paperbacks are usually at least half the price of a hardcover book. Certain kinds of paperbacks, like mass market paperbacks, can be even cheaper.
- Small and light—added portability
This depends on the size of the book, of course, because there are plenty of paperbacks out there that aren’t much smaller than the typical hardcover. Even so, paperbacks don’t have the added obstacle of a hard outer shell. I would never recommend bending a book, but if you need your book to be a little more flexible so you can fit it into your bag, then paperbacks are a great option. Granted, neither paperbacks nor hardbacks are really the best format for portability—that award goes to ebooks and audiobooks, but if you’re like me, and you have a hard time keeping up with books unless you have a tangible reminder that they’re there (I’m working on fixing that), paperbacks are a great second option.
- Floppy paperbacks=amazing readability
I think the official term for these is trade paperbacks, but don’t quote me on that. They’re the kind where the spine and outside covers are much more flexible, letting them flop open and stay open much easier. These kinds of paperbacks are my favorite book format to read, though I unfortunately don’t own very many of them. If you’re the kind of person who really hates that the spines on a mass market paperback crack so easily
- Comes in lots of different sizes
I’ve already talked about this a little, but paperbacks can be both small and compact, easy to fit into bags and carry around, and they can also be large and flexible. You can take your pick based on what works best for you. Personally, even though I usually prefer floppy paperbacks for actual reading, I end up buying a lot of mass market paperbacks. They’re just so easy to fit into bags. Even The Way of Kings, which I just recently finished a reread of, is really easy to carry around in mass market paperback form. That book is over a thousand pages long, but it fit in my purse.
- Covers and spine are easily damaged
Although the compact size of paperbacks would generally make them more portable, the trade-off is that the book is really easily damaged. That is especially true when you’re like me, and you spend a lot of time walking around with the book buried under other books or notebooks in a backpack. Paperback covers are flimsy and easily torn, and the compact nature of the mass market paperback means that, a lot of the time, you can barely open the book without cracking the spine. So if you’re the kind of person who wants your books to stay pristine, they’re not great.
- Typically have to wait at least a year after the hardcover release to get them
For me, this is probably the biggest downside to paperbacks. I don’t know if it’s like this in the rest of the world, but in the United States, when a book is first released, it’s typically only released in hardcover (and digital forms like ebooks and audiobooks, of course). The paperback version of the book may not be released until at least a year later, or even longer sometimes. That’s part of the reason why most of the time, if I’m really excited about a book, I’ll just go ahead and buy the hardcover of it.
- Usually not as pretty
This is obviously a subjective thing, but because paperbacks don’t have the extra surface area for things like pretty endpapers and embossed designs that typically go on a hardcover, they’re usually not as aesthetically pleasing. Of course, that stuff is mostly extra fluff. If a book has a beautiful cover, then the cover is still beautiful regardless of what format it’s in.
Like I said earlier, I like the different book formats for different reasons. Hardcovers are long-lasting and nice to look at, while paperbacks are generally more utilitarian. Neither is perfect.
However, I do think that I have a slight preference for paperbacks over hardcovers. I’m not the kind of person who cares if my book gets a little banged up, and like I mentioned in the paperback pros section of this post, floppy paperbacks give the best reading experience.
I love a pretty cover just as much as the next person, but ultimately, it’s the words between the covers that I really care about.
That’s it! The pros and cons of hardcovers and paperbacks. Which one do you like better? Or maybe you’re more into ebooks or audiobooks? Let me know down in the comments!
Thanks for reading, everyone! I’ll see you next time.