I was wandering through the bookstore the other day and noticed that the average price of a new hard cover book is $36.95 (Canadian dollars). Who buys these things?
I can understand buying some if you’re building up a library and want it to look nice. Even I pick up hard cover books from time to time, if they’re my favorite books. But even then, I usually do so at a secondhand book store or a yard sale.
Do you still buy a lot of new hard cover books? Why do you buy them? Do you find the prices to be a bit ridiculous?
If I buy a book, it’s usually a book I want to keep and I prefer the hard copy. If I just want something to read, I go to the library. Of the last five books I bought (all online), one was $15 and the others were around $10. On the other hand, the video I bought was $25. Maybe once or twice a year I treat myself to a beautiful art book (usually no more than $60).
I buy hardcovers of selected authors. Generally newly published works I really want to read and have and re-read. I use the discounts inherent in being a certain book store member, so it reduces the ridiculous prices to an extent.
I buy books. Lots of books. Hardcover, softcover, you name it. With what’s left over I buy food and groceries.
Seriously, I don’t need an expensive car, fancy t.v., or a glamourous wardrobe. But I love books. I like to think I’m helping to support those who write an publish the stuff I like to read, and thus encouraging them to do more of it.
I re-read them, and softcovers tend to not hold up well. I write my initials on the sides of the pages if I lend out the hardcover ones.
The one time I have only softcovers is if I’m traveling by plane and don’t want to weigh down my luggage. If I’m traveling by car, I just stow a box o’ books in the trunk. I usually allow about a book per day while on vacation.
A large proportion of my hardcover books are either cookbooks or reference books, so I plan on them getting repeated hard use over a protracted period.
Most of the hardcovers that don’t fall into those categories were either purchased used, or were unavailable in softcover, or were remainders or things on which I otherwise got a good deal. (Books in Russia are really, really cheap by U.S. standards, even if the paper and binding quality often sucks, so I came home from one trip with about 20 kg of books in my suitcase, most of them hardcover.)
In my formative years, I wondered the same thing, buying only paperback books. Two unrelated forces contributed to changing my opinion on hard cover books:
[li]As my collection grew, I realized that paperback books look like crap on a bookshelf. Really. Even if they don’t have creased spines (like mine do), their artwork screams “cheap” and “trashy.” They look OK if you are talking about brick+board bookshelves in a back room, but they aren’t suitable for a nice bookshelf in the family room.[/li][li]The Internet has provided a cheap source of hardcover books. I’m certain that the sources were all there before, but the accessibility wasn’t the same. These days, if I find a good hardcover book at Border’s, I will check out Amazon and usually it’s a third cheaper.[/li][/ul]
I buy hardcovers of certain authors, mostly when I can’t wait.
What bugs the crap out of me is that it’s nearly impossible to buy popular fiction on acid-free paper, so my books probably won’t be around for my grandkids. It’s so upsetting, but there’s practically no way around it unless you buy from ridiculous (and often overpriced for insufficient quality) specialty presses. When I buy a children’s classic in hardback I want the pages not to be yellow when I read it to my hypothetical children.
If I’m really eager to read a book that’s recently come out, I’m willing to buy the hardcover. Usually, this is for authors I’ve read and enjoyed in the past, so I have an idea of what I’m paying the extra money for.
I’ve never quite understood this aesthetic–like Helene Hanff (84 Charing Cross Road), I find books valuable for the words they contain and not as objects themselves. My shelves are crowded with books in a completely chaotic and random fashion, paperbacks and hardbacks misgenating together shamelessly. Dostoevsky and Trollope are cheek by jowl with Sivlverberg and King.
If I have the money and can’t wait for the paperback, then I’ll buy a hardcover book.
I would prefer softcover books though, just because they are easier to read. When I’m in a good book, I can wind up anywhere and in any position reading the book, so it can get tough on my hand holding the book up. Large softcovers can do that too, but the majority of them are more comfortable to read.
It’s rare that I buy a paperback book these days. Almost everything I read is hardbound, for many of the reasons stated above. Amazon is my friend…in fact, I have a dedicated credit card with them, just for books. I have found that my collection of paperbacks has grown smaller and smaller each year, as I loan them out and never expect to get them back. But I never loan hardbacks. They are too dear to me.
Hardcovers I have sitting on my bookshelf rignt now:
Red Dragon (a first edition I picked up, for free, in Mississippi)
Portnoy’s Complaint (picked up somewhere for cheap)
Stupid White Men (paid full price for it, and was worth it)
The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide (all the books in one! Picked up cheap somewhere in West Virginia)
Dude, Where’s My Country? (see Stupid White Men)
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (see Dude, Where’s My Country?)
Just For Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary by Linus Torvalds and David Diamond (was on sale back in the ol’ hometown)
Skipping Towards Gomorrah (see Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them)
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (picked up cheap at the thrift store on base)
I’ve got lots and lots of softcover books, though. I’ll buy something hardcover if it’s cheap, or the book itself is something I’ve been waiting for.
I used to belong to a book club where they only had hard-covers, but a fair bit cheaper than the same books would be in the store, sometimes more than half off (I got the omnibus edition of the LotR books for $22 canadian, shipping included). I have a several books from there, as well as a few that I picked up at the store myself. If I don’t want to eait for it to come out in softcover for it to be cheaper, I’ll buy hard (especially if it’s part of a series where all the books I already have are hardcover). Also, I find that they’re much easier to hold than softcover books (and you can’t bend the covers reading it).
Same here. There are a few authors where I simply cannot hold out one year for the paperback. I usually preorder the hardcover edition, read it, then put ip up for sale at Amazon, later buy the paperback version (mainly for shelf space reasons).
I’ll go out of my way to avoid hard covers and, to a lesser extent, trade-sized paperbacks. I waited a year to buy Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake”, and I’m going to wait a year to buy Jennifer Crusie’s “Bet Me”. I hate the feel of hardcovers, and there’s no way I would almost twice as much to buy a book that I find bulky and unwieldly.
If it is a favorite author, definitely hardcover. The day it comes out to be voraciously read and reread by my husband and I. And if it is someone I really like to read, I pull out the femme guerilla warfare to get it before hubby does.
We are both extreme readers and usually have a book going in every room where there is not a computer.
If it is just something that catches our eye, then paperback will do. Also, there are some authors that while I love their stuff, just don’t feel right in hardback.
Also, there are great finds in paperback garage sales, bargin bins and sale racks.