Picking Favorites | Which Book Format Reigns Supreme?

In this modern age, a book is no longer just a bound piece of written or printed work. Well, by definition, that is precisely what a book is… But when I say I’m reading a book, I could mean I’m listening to an audiobook, using my e-reader, or it could mean a physical book, but even then, there’s the option between paperback and hardcover!

Many people prefer one format over others, but, for me, picking a favorite format is akin to a mother picking her favorite child – they are all great in their own unique ways. That being said, there are certainly pros and cons to every format:

A pro for physical books in general, both paperback and hardcover, is the fact that there is just nothing like a book: the smell, the crisp pages, the beautiful covers, the ability to flip back and forth between chapters with ease. Nothing can compare as far as pleasing our senses. But that could be a post in itself.

Pros

  • Portable: Looking at paperback books specifically, they are lighter than a hardcover book and thus easier to transport. As someone who rarely leaves the house without a book these days, this is very important.
  • Cheaper: They also tend to be less expensive than hardcover books for obvious reasons. 
  • Comfort: Paperbacks are also just more comfortable to read. Because they’re bendable and lightweight, you could potentially eat a snack and hold a paperback book in one hand without dropping it in your hummus or on your face. We’ve all been there, right?

Cons

  • Easily Damaged: On the other hand, because paperbacks are bendable, they can get damaged more easily. The lifespan of a paperback book is far shorter than that of a hardcover. Even if you take great care not to damage a paperback book, often, you can’t help from warping the front and back covers from merely reading the book. 

Pros

  • They come out first: Almost every new book comes out in hardcover long before paperback, so if you like having matching books and getting them as soon as they come out, hardcover is the way to go.  
  • Durable: They are also far more durable than a paperback book. Sure, they can get dirty or water-damaged, but as far as the covers warping, that’s nearly impossible.  
  • Aesthetically pleasing: Hardcovers also tend to be the most aesthetically pleasing of all the formats. Depending on the book, hardcovers may have embossing, sprayed edges, designed endpapers, and more. You can also personalize some hardcovers to better match your own aesthetic by purchasing new dust jackets for them. 

Cons

  • Expensive: Hardcover books are costly. That embossing, sprayed edges and designed endpapers that I mentioned? Yeah, they come at a price. 
  • Uncomfortable: They’re also just harder to read. Depending on the size of the book, you’re basically getting an arm workout every time you read. I suppose that could be seen as a pro if you want to kill two birds with one stone…
  • Dust jackets: Yes, I could include this in “harder to read,” but I loathe dust jackets so much I had to make them their own con. We all know why they’re annoying – flopping around, sliding up and down, they’re the worst. I’m going to admit something really embarrassing here, but I never considered just taking the dust jacket off… I would just struggle through re-adjusting the thing every five seconds. Go ahead and judge me; it’s okay, I’m judging myself. 

Full disclosure, I have a Kindle Paperwhite and have never used any other e-reader, so these are going to be heavily biased towards that specific e-reader.

Pros

  • Inexpensive: E-books are often MUCH cheaper than physical copies of books. There are also deals on e-books quite often compared to physical books. You can even get many e-books for free at certain times (at least on my Kindle). 
  • Convenience: E-readers are perfect for impatient readers like me. You can literally get a book in your hands at the click of a button. And, if you thought paperbacks were easy to transport, you’ve never had an e-reader. I mean, you can literally carry a whole library of books in something you can slip into your purse. An e-reader is also super convenient for saving shelf space! One day, I will have floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelves, but until then, my Kindle comes in super handy with freeing up my minimal shelf space. 
  • Privacy: We all have that book (or books) that you refuse to read with anyone around because the cover is just too much – fellow romance readers, I know you know what I’m talking about. With an e-reader, you can read in public without anyone knowing what you’re reading.
  • Accessibility: This is a huge one! Books should be accessible to everyone, and e-readers help with that. You can change the font, the background color, and they are often much more comfortable to hold, helping people with impaired mobility read with more ease. 

Cons

  • Not as pleasing: While my Kindle tells me how far into the book I am via a percentage, it just isn’t as satisfying (or terrifying, at times) as the feeling of seeing how much you have left in your book.
  • It’s another screen: Depending on the e-reader you have, there can be plenty of cons of it being a screen. You could get a sun glare when reading outside or eye fatigue from the blue light, among other screen-related pitfalls. 
  • You have to charge it: Another con is that you have to charge the e-reader. Nothing stresses me like being in the middle of a chapter when I’m notified I only have ten percent battery left. You would think I’d just remember to keep the thing charged, but alas, I never learn.

Pros

  • Multi-tasking: Audiobooks are super convenient but differently from e-readers. With an audiobook, you can read AND use your hands for something else at the same time! Pre-covid, I drove a ton for my job going from library to library and having an audiobook to listen to in the car actually made me hope there was traffic. With audiobooks, you no longer have to choose between doing chores and reading. 
  • Accessibility: A massive pro of audiobooks is that it also makes books more accessible for everyone. Individuals with visual impairments or vision loss or who otherwise cannot read a physical book for any reason can enjoy their favorite books via audiobook. For that reason alone, I love audiobooks. If any authors are reading this, please, please try your best to get your books in this format; it makes me sad to see that not all books are. 

Cons

  • Narrators: A good audiobook narrator can enhance a reader’s experience, but I often have trouble imagining each character’s voices when listening to one narrator speak for everyone. It can also sometimes be uncomfortable, say, hearing an old British woman read you a smutty scene *cringe*. 
  • Idle hands: While a pro of an audiobook is that you can do other things while reading one, I would say a con is that I can’t just “read” the book without something else to do with my hands… This may just be a “me” problem because I can’t keep my hands idle at any time, but I get so frustrated when I just want to find out what happens next, but I have no chores to do or somewhere to drive. 
  • Expensive: I find that most audiobooks are sold via subscription service so, unless you’re big into audiobooks, it’s often not worth it, in my opinion. If an audiobook isn’t sold via subscription, it is more than likely more expensive than the physical book is. 

Do you have a favorite book format to read? Let me know in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Picking Favorites | Which Book Format Reigns Supreme?

  1. Great post! I prefer paperbacks over hardcovers. Once in awhile I’ll buy a hardcover book over a paperback, but it’s usually because the book is on sale or I don’t feel like waiting any longer for the paperback to come out.

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  2. Great post! A well-balanced view of the different formats. Like you said, choosing just one favourite format is like choosing a favourite child! They all have their advantages and offer different reading experiences. My personal preference will always be e-books because of the convenience and comfort. Paperbacks are a close second because of the flexibility and versatility they offer. Hardbacks are too big and bulky and audiobooks are difficult for me to focus on and retain. I thought I was the only person that NEEDS to be doing chores or something with my hands to listen to an audiobook – it’s nice to know I’m not alone haha. Sometimes finding things to do just so I can listent o an audiobook is a challenge. On the plus side, at least I end up with a very, VERY tidy home!

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