Investigated – Paperback or Hardcover

Posted December 23, 2013 by Emily in Investigated / 4 Comments


It’s holiday season which means it is vacation time for some people. And what is something good to bring on a vacation? A book. Do you bring a book stored on one of your electronic device (aka an e-book)? Or do you bring a physical copy? I already discussed the pros and cons of e-books and print, but today I’m going to talk about paperbacks versus hardcovers. Let’s say you are going on a road trip and you feel like reading a book on the long car ride. You know the ride is very long and you are not sure if your e-reader can last very long, so you decide on taking a physical book. The question is… do you take a paperback or hardcover?

Damage and survival
One of the biggest cons of paperback books is that they can be more fragile than hardcovers. At the library I work at, there is a section exclusively for new children’s (juvenile) books. Half of those books are paperbacks, half of them are hardcovers. At the end of the month, half of the collection still looks relatively new. The other half, not so much… Let’s just say a good amount of them looked as if they had been at the library for A LOT long than one month. The ones that looked almost new were the hardcovers. The paperbacks were the ones that looked half destroyed. Almost all of them have creased corners (think dogear but a lot bigger and on the cover). Some of had ripped covers and ripped pages. Some of them looked liked they had been dunked in a fish bowl and then dried… pages were stuck together, words were faded. Paperbacks are just so much easier to damage.

On the other hand, hardcovers are much more resistant to being damaged. Not only do they have hard covers like the name implies, they also lack the paper back of a paperback. They have a, what I guess you could call shield, against damage because of the different material that make up the cover. The covers of hardcovers almost never get bent if you forget about the corners. The weight of the cover also helps keep the pages closer together rather than spread out and helps fight against tears and unwanted creases. Speaking of pages, hardcover books also seem to be printed on better paper than paperbacks. To me, the paper used for hardcovers feels thicker and stronger, than the paper of paperbacks. Another way to prevent rips.

Structure and Weight
On the bright side, paperbacks are usually smaller and they always weigh less. That makes them more portable and convenient. Weight is a huge factor. When you are carrying a huge, heavy backpack, any weight you can prevent carrying is always a plus. A lot of paperpacks also fit in handbags and purses or other bags one would carry around. Paperbacks tend to be less bulky, but more flexible. But going back to the fact that paperbacks are easily damaged, maybe carrying around a paperback isn’t the best idea if you are concerned about that aspect.

On the flip side, hardcovers tend to weigh more, are more bulky, but also are more likely to survive your bag than a paperback. The structure and weight of a paperback takes away from its potability, but helps it from being damaged like a paperback. It is more bulky because of its cover, but for the same reason, it is more likely to come out of your bag unscratched. I’m speaking from experience here. There is not one paperback that has survived my backpack without some sort of damage no matter how careful I was. There have been many hardcovers which have emerged unharmed.

Paperbacks cost less than hardcovers. In fact, many paperbacks of books are half the cost of the hardcover edition. It’s like you are getting the book for 50% off. Just don’t forget the pros and cons of a paperback… and how easy it is to damage it.

Personally, I prefer hardcovers. I can get kind of carried away when it comes to the condition of books, especially if I’m the owner. If I was taking a road trip, I would probably bring a hardcover. However, if the trip involved a plane ride, or a lot of luggage that needed to be lugged places. I would stick with a paperback. From the library. Hey, when all of your stuff feels like it weighs a ton, even an ounce that you won’t be carrying makes a difference. Even if you are only carrying one ounce less in your load, it will still feel like a big difference.

What about you?
Do you prefer hardcovers or paperbacks?
Do you have any points that I missed?



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4 responses to “Investigated – Paperback or Hardcover

  1. I always get a hardcover if I can because they are more durable and I just love the way they look. What is totally my pet peeve is when I have a mixture of paperbacks and hardcovers in a series, they just don’t look right on my shelf!

  2. I personally prefer paperbacks. It’s mostly because I find them easier to hold when reading. I normally don’t take them out of the house with me. If I want something to read at work or on the bus I will bring my e-reader. Paperbacks do need a little bit more care, but I don’t like the bulk of the hardcovers. (Plus dust jackets drives me bonkers!)

  3. I go with paperbacks, mostly because of the cost. My mom doesn’t let me buy books much, and if I do, I have to use the money I saved up. So it’s more cost-effective. I only buy the hardback if it’s a rare books and there’s no other copy available.

    And I hate it when the jacket of the hardcover just curls a little bit at the bottom, for no apparent reasons. I just get so annoyed.

  4. I much prefer paperbacks – they’re cheaper, lighter, smaller, easier to carry around and hold up in bed. And I can fit more of them on my bookcase 😉

    I don’t mind so much about the wear and tear, I treat my books pretty well but anyway, I want them loved! I do try not to damage them too much IE cracking the spine or significant damage to the cover, but I’m usually either packing them in a suitcase amongst clothes or carrying them in a side pocket of my handbag. However, I’m only going to keep them, loan them or donate them to the Salvos anyway.

    For me, one point for hardcovers is the size of the type. Well I guess it’s more a point for my Mum than me – hardcovers usually have bigger print and my eyes aren’t that bad… yet!