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Three Reasons I Hate Hardcover Books

Kim Ukura

Staff Writer

Kim Ukura is a book lover, recovering journalist, library advocate, cat mom, and lover of a good gin cocktail. In addition to co-hosting Book Riot’s nonfiction podcast, For Real, and co-editing Book Riot’s nonfiction newsletter, True Story, Kim spends her days working in communications at a county library system in the Twin Cities area. Kim has a BA in English and journalism from a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, and a master’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When not getting to bed before 10 p.m., Kim loves to read nonfiction, do needlework projects, drink tea, and watch the Great British Baking Show. Instagram: @kimthedork Twitter: @kimthedork

Does it make me a bad book lover to admit that I don’t like hardcover books? Or, that I would be happier if every book only came out in paperback?

If it does, so be it. I’m here to argue that we should abandon the hardcover and embrace a world of paperback originals.

I’d say the most frequently-leveled charge against the hardcover is the cost. Most new hardcover books cost upwards of $25, which isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things but can feel like a lot for a single entertainment purchase (or if you’re the sort of person that can’t walk out of a bookstore without a stack of new books like I am).

However, it’s not the cost alone that keeps me from buying hardcover books. Cost is just an additional factor that, when added to my other annoyances with the format, keeps me from being a hardcover book buyer and, ultimately, costs publishers and booksellers my dollars.

Cost + Convenience. I am the kind of person who always has a book with me, but hardcover books just aren’t that portable. Even though I carry a big purse during the day so space isn’t an issue, I still don’t like the extra weight a hardcover adds to my already full bag. And when I grab a small bag for going out, a hardcover book just doesn’t fit. I want my books to be portable, and hardcover books just don’t cut it.

Cost + Comfort. When I’m at home, I love to curl up in my big reading chair or in bed with a book. Hardcover books are too bulky for me to cuddle up with comfortably. When I’m at work, I always read a book over lunch, and hardcover books are just too big to hold with one hand so I can eat with the other. I want to transported away by the books I’m reading, not distracted by how uncomfortable they are making me.

Cost + Chance. I love to try new-to-me authors, but I simply can’t justify spending the price of a hardcover book on an unknown. I have an entire wishlist of books saved online called “Waiting for Paperback” – books I was excited about after reading some reviews, but wasn’t sure enough about to justify a $25 or $30 price tag. Had the original been a paperback, I probably would have purchased it right away. I like trying new things, but hardcover books make it cost prohibitive.

I want to be a reader that supports publishers and bookstores. I stopped purchasing books from Amazon and, even though I live in a town without a dedicated bookstore, try to buy from independent bookstores when I have the opportunity. But as a consumer, I don’t want to spend twice as much money on a hardcover book when reading a book in hardcover detracts from my reading experience. Bring on the paperbacks.