Thursday, April 2, 2009

How I read

Recently, Justine Larablestier asked about reading paperback vs. hardback novels. Personally, I have a strong preference. I almost never buy hardback books. This is a function of both price and preference. I actively dislike hardbacks - they're heavy, difficult to read with one hand, and I feel guilty that I might mess them up. I hate slipcovers and inevitably lose or rip them. I like having a paperback I can slide into my purse or backpack and not worry about accidentally splashing with water or food or whatever. I break the spines by putting them down open to mark my page. I read at the gym, while walking anywhere, waiting in lines, and in the bathtub. I don't treat books particularly well, and don't want to feel guilty about that. I want books to be living and breathing, comfortable companions rather than precious artifacts. I keep the vast majority on my bookshelves, although I pass particularly good ones on to friends.

I much prefer the books I would like to read to come out as paperback originals. Personally, I would gladly read and review them. When a new book, particularly a young adult book, comes out in paperback first, I am much more likely to buy and read it in a prompt manner. In fact, I'm pretty sure the Harry Potter books are the only YA books I've ever bought in hardback. In fact, that's the only reason I haven't read past the first book in the Twilight series. I read Twilight years ago, and I enjoyed it, but it wasn't worth going out and buying New Moon in hardback. It took at least two years for the second book to come out in paperback; by the time it did so, I lost all interest and momentum in the series. I can generally hold out a year or so, but I was actively angry at how long they took to release the series in paperback. I'll read the rest of the series sometime, but honestly, I'm over it.

Generally, hardbacks are just not worth the expense or inconvenience to me. There are so many great books out there that I might as well read the ones that are cheap and convenient. I'm more than willing to wait for the books I want to come out in paperback. Like, for example, Suite Scarlett, How to Ditch Your Fairy or The Graveyard Book. I'm excited to read them, but I still don't want them in hardback. This is probably not the greatest, most supportive thing I could do for authors or the publishing industry, but it's the way I read; I buy enough books that the difference in price does indeed matter to me. I firmly believe in paperback books, and I find it absurd how, particularly in YA and genre fiction, more and more books are being released first as expensive hardbacks. I'll gladly read them, if people pass them on to me or otherwise give them to me, but generally, I'd much prefer to read paperbacks. It may mean that I'll never be on the cutting edge of popular literature, but I pay attention to the buzz and the reviews and I'll pick up the books once they come out in paperback.

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