A true bibliophile, I keep all my books, and they’re piled high in one room of my house like a mini paper fortress. No bookshelves. No alphabetical order. No thematic sections other than the division of those I’ve read and those that are in line.
This got me thinking about our relationships with books. Why do we keep, discard, burn some books and not others? Why must we be able to curl up in bed with a book in order for it to be a proper book? With these questions in mind I created a survey for Book Fridge readers.
Where the results get interesting is in regards to the question about preferred format. It seems we have some very strong opinions and attachments to our trade paperbacks. The texture and size of the trade paperback makes it comfy in bed, not too bulky like the 300+ page mass market or the hardcover, but hardcovers make beautiful gifts and boast certain classiness. I, though, don’t like them and will wait nine months for the paperback baby to be born. I enjoy a mass market every now and then and will opt to save the $10 if I can. For those same reasons, I think I’d like the e-reader (still an e-reader virgin). I have no moral hang-ups about paper vs. electronic. As long as people are reading and writers are getting paid, that’s all I care about. The fact that all of these formats can successfully co-exist makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside or should I say soft and “paperbacky.”
So here’s what you had to say: trade paperback (39 votes), hardcovers (24 votes), mass market paperback (20 votes), e-readers (12 votes). Many of you defended your choice in the comments section like you were picking up for your kid brother even going so far as to whip insults at the opponents. One person stated, “E-READERS ARE NOT BOOKS!!”
Cost is the biggest factor favoring paperback over hardcover. Some do not “like the feel of a hardcover” and prefer “the flexibility” and manageable size of the paperback while others like the “aesthetics,” “the physical presence,” and the “sound when you open and close” a hardcover. One sassy reader said s/he “likes it hard.” I am a hardcover hater so I was surprised to find it in second place. I would choose e-readers over hardcovers without ever having used an e-reader. It’s perfect for the avid traveler who prefers to carry-on only and it scores top points for being environmentally friendly.
One thing is certain—other than the fact that I’m a huge geek who spends more than a second thinking about stuff like this—is that we have strong and varied relationships with our books, maybe some that border on fetishism (but that’s another article). And when people walk into my book room and see those colorful stacks more often than not they say, “did you read all those?” The answer is no. And I probably never will because as soon as I get down to twenty or so to go I buy twenty or so more and then I’m right back where I started. My personal relationship with books has been very intimate; I’ve taken them to bed, to dinner, and the bath. They, like a journal, tell the stories of my life–where I was at a certain time, what I was doing, traveling I’ve done, the relationships I’ve forged—it’s all silently narrated by thick and sturdy, dusty stacks of paper spines.