There are so many ways to read books. You can get paperbacks, hardbacks, eBooks, audiobooks. They’re all the same stories, but the format people prefer to read them in changes. I know people who’d prefer to have digital books, others who prefer listening to audiobooks, or a few who have towering shelves of hardbacks. I wanted to find out for myself which format is the most popular…
What Others Prefer
Ages ago (in September, to be precise), I turned to Twitter to find out what fellow bloggers preferred. These were the results, with an almost unanimous winner:
For research purposes [and possibly a future blog post], which book format do you prefer? If you could tell me why that would be great!
— Charlotte 📚☄️ (@WBookishBlog) September 22, 2016
And these were some of the responses:
“Definitely paperbacks,they’re safer to read in the bath haha. Hardbacks are expensive and kindle isn’t waterproof yet. That said, I split my reading between paperbacks and ebooks because I can sneak-read ebooks at my desk (sometimes).” – @Corazzz
“I normally say paperback but recently ebooks have gotten me out of my slump due to having access to them on my phone, so ebook… but I’d say its like 55% ebook & 40% paperback with 5% for hardbacks!” – @cahwrites
“They all have their benefits: eBooks are cheaper & I can read them faster; hardcover & eBooks I can read in any position, which I like laying a hardcover flat and laying on my belly to read; paperbacks I like to “wrap” the cover when I’m reading the right side pages, and they’re lighter and not so bulky. But they also have their drawbacks. So I’m torn.” – @
“I prefer paperbacks to any other formats because they’re easier to read and I love the stocks most of the time!” – @
“Paperback because they’re so easy to carry around!” – @
“Paperback! I love to read a paper book, feel it in my hands, flip the pages, put in a bookmark…” – @
So, it looks like the general vote on Twitter was in favour of paperbacks. But what do I prefer, and what are the pros and cons of each?
Format #1: Paperback
- Light and easy to carry around with you
- They look great if you pack a bookshelf with loads of them – you can make a whole library of them (don’t have space for a library? Just fill your living room with shelves of books. I’m sure your family won’t mind)
- They have a more ‘traditional’ feel than digital books; it’s nice to hold a book in your hands (and stroke it and smell the pages like a proper weirdo bookworm. We all do it)
- They’re a lot cheaper to buy than hardbacks (which means you can buy more of them… see point 2)
- You can send them as gifts and they don’t cost a great deal to send in the post
- You can’t carry loads of them around at once unless you have a huge Hermione or Mary Poppins bag and don’t mind it weighing a ton (although it wouldn’t if it’s Hermione’s or Mary Poppins’ bag. We all just need magic bags)
- Often, hardback covers are a lot nicer than paperback ones (I’ve ordered a hardback copy of The Martian from America for more money than a paperback and it’ll take weeks, because it has a beautiful cover)
- They don’t lie flat, which can sometimes be a disadvantage when taking photos, trying to get into a nice reading position, etc
Format #2: Hardback
- They have such nice covers, sometimes nicer than paperbacks (see my point above about The Martian)
- You get the joy of peeling back a dust jacket to see what’s underneath, and often they’re BEAUTIFUL (for example, just look at the hardcover of Caraval. I want them ALL)
- Just in general, naked spines are so pretty and I love them
- They lie flat, which means you can lie them down to read them, or take nice book fan pictures (like this one)
- If you have a lot of hardbacks on a shelf, they look amazing
- They look great in photos and they stand up by themselves, meaning easier photos too (I hate trying to prop up paperbacks and they fall over and cause destruction and mayhem)
- Really hard to travel with; the least portable type of book
- I don’t like reading with the dust jacket on because it annoys me, so I have to take it off and risk it getting damaged or sat on by a cat and I don’t want that
- They’re SO expensive to buy 🙁
- If you want to send one in the post as a gift, it can cost you £4958 to send (not really, but it feels like it)
Format #3: eBook
- A lot cheaper to buy than physical books, so you can buy more of them (hehe)
- You have wonders like NetGalley, who give you free eBooks in return for a review and that is just amazing
- You can carry hundreds of books in your POCKET. How cool is that?
- They can be picked up and read wherever you are because they can be read on any device. Read them on the bus! In the car! On a rollercoaster! (Just don’t drop your phone.)
- If you don’t have a bookmark handy, you don’t lose your place
- You can make notes on the pages without writing directly on the book or fumbling around for sticky notes and pen, which can be so useful when writing reviews
- You don’t get to see the pretty cover apart from on a screen
- You can’t put them on your shelf if you love them; they’re trapped behind glass forever
- I have loads of them but because I can’t see them on a shelf, they just sit on my Kindle forever unread and probably crying because they’re alone and unloved
- They’re hard, even impossible, to share with someone else. If you want to lend it to someone, you just can’t
- If you want to send an eBook as a gift you have to send it as an Amazon gift certificate or something so they can buy it themselves, which kind of sucks. Like, happy birthday, here’s a £4 voucher to buy that eBook
Format #4: Audiobook
- It’s pretty cool to get a story read to you – you can sit or lie anywhere without having to worry about holding a book. You can listen to them while you’re busy doing something, so even though you’re busy, you’re STILL technically reading. Great for those Goodreads challenge goals!
- Some narrator’s voices can really bring the book to life and it can be more fun to listen rather than read
- Like eBooks, you don’t lose your place – just pause and come back later
- You can listen to them anywhere and everywhere (so long as you have earphones, or don’t mind everyone on the bus listening too)
- You can be anti-social if you don’t want to speak by putting earphones in and blocking out the world
- It gives you something really interesting to listen to when out walking or travelling (just remember to focus on what’s ahead of you too and don’t walk into the traffic)
- If listening while walking, you could indeed focus too much and walk into traffic. Don’t do that
- They’re SO VERY expensive – even more expensive than hardbacks!
- You can’t read at your own pace, so it takes a lot longer to listen to an audiobook than it does to read a book (it’s taken me about 3 weeks to listen to mine at the moment)
- Like eBooks, they’re hard to share (unless someone listens with you, but who wants that?)
- If you want to send an eBook as a gift you have to send it as an Amazon gift certificate or something so they can buy it themselves, which kind of sucks
So, after much deliberation, it turns out…
I don’t have a favourite.
I know this sounds like the kind of cop-out ending, like on a school sports day when the teacher says “Everyone’s a winner!!!”, but I genuinely can’t choose a favourite. It’d be like trying to choose between my cats.
Each format is great in its own way. Paperbacks are the most common amongst my books because they’re the easiest to get hold of and they look nice. Hardbacks are so pretty and they look amazing, and you have the joy of the naked book underneath the dust jacket (ooh, saucy).
But then eBooks are great too because they’re so easy to download and start reading, plus they’ve given me so many opportunities to review brand new books before their release date. Audiobooks, the final platform, are something I’ve grown to love recently because I can listen to them when I’m out walking, or lying in bed at night.
Each one has its definite pros and cons, but they’re all wonderful – so long as I’m consuming new books, I don’t care about which format they’re in!
Over to you. Which format is your favourite? Are you a paperback hoarder or an eBook consumer? What are your pros and cons that you could add to my lists? I’d love to know your opinions!