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Something Old, Something New

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All other things being equal––do you prefer used books? Or new books? (The physical specimen, that is, not the title.) Does your preference differentiate between a standard kind of used book, and a pristine, leather-bound copy?

All other things being equal, and financial consideration aside, I still prefer a trade paperback for its lighter weight and portability. It doesn’t have to be brand new, although it is important that an used copy must be intact, pristine, and unmarked. I tend to (re)read my favorite novels to shreds, but the condition of an used book must be that which lasts at least two reads, surviving my dog-earring and occasional penciling. The determining factor between new and used is the author. If I enjoy a used book by a new author, I’ll go buy a second, new copy. Of all the years I’ve been perusing books with such voraciousness, I have stayed clear of leather-bound and hardcovers, which are bulky and cumbersome. I always feel I cannot be “physically casual” with these hardbounds for fear of breaking the spines. In the digital age, the talk of book condition is no longer relevant.

10 Responses

  1. I always care more about the story than the cover, so now I mostly buy ebooks 🙂
    http://mostraum.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/booking-through-thursday-something-old-something-new/

  2. Still love the trade paperbacks and I avoid hardbacks and only buy them when I can’t get the book I am after with soft covers. My partner has a ereader, I can’t stand reading it, my mind tends to wander off when I try.

    I love the penguin classics, they are my favorite size and style of book, they are easy to carry with you, they line up nicely on a shelf, they fit in your hands well, whether your lying in bed, on the couch or a bus. And they are cheap!

    But I still love secondhand books, I love finding bookmarks in them, train or bus tickets, inscriptions or ex libris and I enjoy looking at what others have underlined or what notes have been written in the margin.

    • The e-reader has proved to be an epitome of modern technology and convenience. I’ve always prefer trade paperbacks and recently, as I have trouble keeping the hardback upright on my lap, I’m even more convinced that I shall never acquire hardbacks anymore. They are more expensive, bulky, and heavy!

  3. I similarly don’t like hardcovers. I can’t handle it, can’t keep them in my bag and read in taxis. No! it’s not amenable to my reading habits. Most of my African writers are new copies, whether I have heard of the author before or not. Most of my non-African authored stories are used copies because of 1) they are only available at used books dealers and 2) the price of a new one is astronomical, even with paperback editions.

    • I don’t like how the jackets keep sliding upward (or downward) while holding a hardcover. I don’t like how I cannot keep the book flat within the risk of breaking the spine. Unless I cannot wait for the trade paperbacks to come out, I almost never buy hard covers.

  4. I love beautiful books, whether they are new or used. I love audios. I love e-books. I am a book whore.

  5. I love new books! But, I will buy used if the book is in good condition and I happen upon it at some garage sale or flea market. I used to mooch, but sometimes those used books were in horrid condition, so I gave that up. As far as hardback goes, I will only buy those if it is by an author that I love or a book I am itching to get my hands on and I can’t wait until it comes out in paperback. I used to buy Vintage editions all the time, but have been getting into Penguin ones. Really, it depends on the book and its cover. Yes, I am a book snob when it comes to covers 🙂

    • Who doesn’t like new books—for the shiny covers, the crisp pages that smell of ink, and the spines free of the lightest creases. That said, I can do with used ones as long as they’re in good condition. I like new copies of my favorite authors.

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