book thoughts on thursday summer

Last week I wrote about judging books by their covers, and how I totally do that. This week, I’m talking about another book-related prejudice I have. This one is to do with binding.

I suspect we all have our favourite book formats. I certainly have mine. For fat books or for books I know will be re-read many times, I prefer hardcover. I also appreciate that hardcovers tend to age well and are less likely to look bad when they’ve been sitting on my shelves for a decade or so. And as I’ve grown my collection, I’ve invested in some really beautiful hardcover editions of some of my favourite books that I know I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

But for everyday reading, I have a fondness for trade paperbacks, particularly the kind with the floppy covers that seem to be more and more common recently. You know, the kind that will flop open nearly flat without stressing the spine. I hate breaking spines, so a book that will open fully without breaking its spine is something I really appreciate. Plus there’s just something satisfying about how these books feel to hold.

Partly because of this, I rarely buy pocket editions – I find the binding is too tight, the paper is too stiff, and they’re really hard to read without damaging them. Plus I just see them as being a bit less serious somehow, perhaps because I associate them with the bestseller racks in supermarkets and convenience stores. And I don’t like how they look on the shelves as much.

Texture is also important to me. When it comes to covers, I like softcover ones that feel soft. For hardcovers, I favour cloth-bound editions (like the Penguin classics). Whatever the binding, the pages themselves need to be good quality paper, paper that feels smooth and pleasing to my fingers. I’m not a fan of cheap newsprint (another reason I’m not a fan of pocket books).

A lot of my preferences have to do with books lasting longer or being able to read them without damaging them. So it probably won’t come as a surprise that I’m not a fan of cover designs that feature cut-outs. I think they look cool, but on a practical level, they’re horrible. They’re pretty much guaranteed to get snagged no another book as you’re putting them on or taking them off the shelf, and it never takes long for them to get torn. I don’t care how cool they look, just NO.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this… right? What about you guys? Do you have a faourite book format or binding? If so, what do you prefer?

The world of books is never boring. Every week (well, most weeks) I’ll discuss a different topic related to books, often inspired by or in response to what’s going on in the online book community (or something I’ve seen another blogger talk about). I call this Book Thoughts on Thursday. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, or even write your own post on the topic and share the link with me!


  1. Dani @ Novelfly

    I hate trade paperbacks. Like you, I think they just don’t look good on a shelf. Besides, I hate the paper and they’re just not comfortable to read. However, I have grown to love softcovers. I tend to buy hardbacks of books I’ve already read and loved. They’re more for collecting than reading for me.

    I’m actually not too picky as long as it’s hardback or softcover.

  2. Karen @ One More Page...

    I have to admit that I’ve gone from being a “pristine reader” to one that relishes in breaking spines if I have to (oops!). I love the idea of having visibly well-loved books. That being said, I agree with you re: mass markets and their tight binding! I find them just a tad difficult to read and I think they’re my least preferred format.

  3. Lauren

    My preferences are similar to yours, though not as extensive. I prefer hardcovers, but not for huge books (which I’m averse to in the first instance). For those, I’m more likely to buy the ebook. I have pain issues that affect my hands, so the larger a hardcover gets, the harder it is to hold. For the same reason, I can’t read mass market paperbacks anymore. I’m also a non-binding-breaker, so to hold them open in that way, especially if the pages are stiff, is virtually impossible. I do love the trade paper format, which is a bit of the best of both worlds.

    I don’t have the same paper thoughts you do. I just know what I DON’T like about the other parts of books: 1. Covers that have that dusty feel you can’t get rid of. I’m not even sure how to describe it, so you may or may not know what I’m talking about. They just always feel like there’s some coating on them. 2. Deckle edging is the devil (just try to thumb through a book to look for a passage – or even a book dart – ugh, HATE IT, 3. Dust covers with cutouts on them. Always getting caught on things. Just make a damn cover and be done with it. There, there’s my book rant for the morning. 🙂


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