Monday, 19 November 2007

Last Breath for the Hardback.

Not sure what to make of this:
With its creamy paper and embossed fabric covers, the hardback has always been the elite format for literary fiction.

Now Picador, an imprint of Pan MacMillan, the 8th largest publisher in the UK, which has authors such as Helen Fielding, Don DeLillo and Cormac McCarthy on its books, has called time on what it describes as "a moribund market". From next year it will launch almost every new novel as a £7.99 paperback, with other large publishers expected to follow.
I've always preferred buying paperbacks because they're cheaper.

But then again, I have to admit the experience of reading a hardcover book is incomparable to reading a cheap paperback. The smooth, thick paper, the feeling of substantial weight in your hands... holding and smelling the book, carrying it around with the dust cover off... reading a hardcover isn't just about enjoying the actual contents printed within. After all, you're paying a premium for this edition. It's okay to enjoy your book in a perverse way! (I won't tell if you don't...)

I don't buy every book in hardcover of course, but I will miss the format once it's gone. Picador isn't out to banish it forever though. They're planning "limited edition" releases of their future books which are basically tarted up hardcovers--ribbon bookmarks, fabric head and tail bands, the works. But I don't fancy rushing out to buy a copy of a book I want in hardcover before they're gone... forever.

But then again (again) I suppose you could argue that hardcovers have always been a sort of "limited edition" anyway. Except without the fancy add-ons.

9 comments:

  1. I've always preferred paperbacks. Hardbacks have always seemed so inflexible and unfriendly. And the dust cover gets in the way ALL THE TIME!!!

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  2. I usually take off the dust covers and keep 'em somewhere safe if I'm reading a hardcover.

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  3. as much as i love the flexibility and mobility of paperbacks, i have to admit hardcovers looks handsome on the shelves..

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  4. correction:

    *look, not looks.

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  5. Haha! They sure do... hardbacks are nice as decoration... which is kind of sad, really, when you think about it.

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  6. I always believe that if someone is willing to buy a hardcover version of a book, he/she must really crave for it because it can be quite sometime till the paperback version comes out and the waiting is just agony.

    I'm gonna miss hardcovers!

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  7. I remember as a poor undergraduate student in England, I gave Toni Morrison's Beloved the miss (despite the fact that she gave a talk on campus as part of her Beloved book tour) and bought Maxine Hong Kingston's Tripmaster Monkey instead because it had been 10 years since her last book (China Men). Sadly, till today, I have yet to finish Tripmaster Monkey. I later found a used copy (trade paperback version) of Beloved - that one also still to finish.

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  8. P/S Both were hardcover versions, of course, which is what we're discussing here. Sorry I wasn't clear.

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  9. Maybe it's time to dig them out again and try finishing them this time?

    I find hardcovers easier to read and more pleasant to experience while sunk in a huge comfy armchair... with coffee or tea in easy reach. It just isn't the same with a paperback.

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