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Hardback vs Paperback

Now this is a thorny question which can bring readers almost to blows.  Do you prefer books in hardback or paperback format?

Straight away, let me nail my colours to the mast.  If money was no object, then my entire library would be in hardback.  (It would also be in a proper library, with a real fire, comfy chairs and a cosy rug, rather than overflowing bookshelves and piles on various bits of floor and furniture, but that’s another story.)  I love the heft of a hardback.  I love dust jackets.  I love the feel and smell of thick creamy paper.  I love the extra space words get to breathe in a more substantial format.  There’s something so satisfying about the physical form of a hardback book, especially when the text is set in a beautiful, clear typeface and the paper is smooth under your fingers and you get that lovely sound each time you turn a page. (Can you tell that I’m not really an ebook reader?)

I know that many people won’t agree with me.  I have heard lots of complaints about hardbacks – they’re so unwieldy; they’re too heavy to carry around; they take up too much space; they’re too expensive; they’re difficult to read in bed.  Paperbacks are cheaper, lighter, more portable.  All this is true.  But they don’t smell the same, they don’t feel the same – and they don’t last the same.  And if you are like me, and like to re-read books you have enjoyed, the there is no question that the hardback is the better option.  How many times have I returned to a book I have loved before, all buoyed up with anticipation of a good read, only to be disappointed to find that my paperback copy is shedding its pages or that the paper has turned brownish yellow and started to smell musty?  The words are undoubtedly the same, but the reading experience is undeniably spoiled.

So which is your preference?  Hardback or paperback?

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