Hardcovers can be either loathed or loved by the reading community. Some readers love getting their hands on the newest and heftiest books complete with dust jacket. Others hedge away from the board behemoths and wait for the softcover version.
I have a love-hate relationship with hardcover books. Younger me had absolutely no opinion, but I think a majority of my books were softcover by virtue of them all being some version of a YA novel. For a large portion of my reading career, I truly had no opinion about soft- or hardcover books. In my hands, a book was a book, and that was the only thing that mattered.
However, once I reached the age that dictated I start buying my own books (either with gift cards or money earned from some of my first jobs,) I began to get more frugal. And hardcovers are not cheap; in fact, they are always the more expensive version of the book. Most hardcovers sit in the $20-30 range. For longer books, the price can jump up to around $35. Yikes.
That’s not to say that hardcovers aren’t worth it! A lot of hardcovers, such as Barned&Noble’s classics collection, are beautiful (and, I admit, I own one.) Hardcover books are works of art; by design, they are meant to last longer than a paperback or a MM* paperback. Often times, hardcovers have some special, artistic element to them such as foil embossing/debossing, marbled pages, gilded pages…the possibilities are (almost) endless with hardcover books.
Often, if I ever came into the company of a hardcover book, it was through the fortune of Thriftbooks.com, which is to say, relatively by accident. (Thriftbooks is one of my favorite book resellers, and I’ll go into more detail about that another time…) Most of the hardcover books on my shelf were either gifted to me or from a used bookshop.
Buuuuut, that changed very quickly. And there’s a very simple reason for that. No, I didn’t suddenly come into a small fortune or win the lottery (though I wish I had.) It’s actually related to my major of study at school. I’m an English major, and at my university, all English majors are required to “concentrate” in a specific area of study. There’s literature, creative writing, children’s literature, and…
Publishing studies. (Womp, there it is.)
As a publishing student, I—and about seventy other students—go through courses that are strictly related to the publishing industry. Book promotion, book history, book editing I & II, and more. And something that you learn very quickly about being a publishing student is that you must be reading current. By that I mean that you have to be up-to-date with the publishing market; you’ve got to be reading books that are being published in the last six months. What does that entail? Hardcover books.
Hardcover books (most often) are the signal of a recently-released title. Of course, most bookshops also have hardcover books of older novels like Les Miserables, Jurassic Park, and War of the Worlds (among hundreds of others.) But, for the most part, hardcover books are the mark of a newly-published novel.
Which is how I now find myself in the company of a lot of hardcover books. As much as my wallet weeps at the stacks of books I ferry out of Barnes&Noble with startling frequency, I am now so giddy to be in the company of fresh books. (Yes, I do frantically open the book to find the copyright page and locate the pub date. Being a publishing student does weird things to you.)
What’s your preference? Are you a hardcover heavyweight? Or do you prefer the lighter feel of softcover paperbacks? Leave a comment!