Hardcover vs Paperback vs Audio

I’m in the middle of my Harry Potter reading marathon, and having finished the third book yesterday I don’t see myself finishing the fourth book for a post today (maybe tomorrow, we’ll see though) so I’ve decided to write about something I’ve been considering doing a post about for a couple of days now: book formats.

I read a lot, and I buy a ton of books, I fully believe in supporting the authors that I enjoy reading.  However, I’m also cheap and don’t like spending money when I don’t have to, for this and other reasons most of the books that I buy are paperbacks.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do still buy hardcover books (especially for my favorite authors/series) but I prefer paperbacks.  I haven’t listened to any full novels as audiobooks, but I have listened to quite a few short stories on audio so I’ll discuss that as well.


  • + Cheapest way to buy a book (including Kindle prices)
  • + Smaller and easier to carry (I always read books throughout school, and having my bag filled with textbooks and notebooks and other things, I appreciated the smaller paperbacks)
  • + Easier to read (the larger hardcover books can be awkward, I don’t always read sitting up, I’m often laying down or lounging somewhere while I read and paperbacks are easier)
  • – Have to wait longer to get the book, as most paperbacks come out about a year after the hardcover is released
  • – More pages (example, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, 1008 pages hardcover, 1280 pages paperback, could make the book seem more daunting, especially to younger readers)
  • + Get the book the day it’s released
  • + More impressive as a collection of books in a series (I don’t have all of them as hardcover, but the entire WoT series in hardcover is impressive to see)
  • – Much more expensive
  • – Dust jackets, I don’t like them
  • + Easiest to transport (I always have my iPod with me)
  • + Can do other things while listening (I listen to short stories while I exercise)
  • – Most expensive
  • – Slow (I read much more quickly than most narrators, ex: I just finished reading the third Harry Potter book, it took me about 5 hours or so, the audio version listed on Amazon, I couldn’t find it on Audible, says it has 10 CD’s, you figure about an hour per CD, that’s twice as long as it took me to read the book)
  • – Book may not be available on Audio
  • – Can be hit or miss with the narrator
  • – Earbuds can get uncomfortable after a while, as can headphones (I wear glasses and don’t like headphones for long stretches of time)
So there you go, some pluses and minuses for three ways of getting through books.  I’m a big fan of paperback books, although I do get hardcovers for books that I don’t want to wait for.  I haven’t listened to a full novel as an audio book, and I don’t know if I want to.  Audio works well enough for short stories, but I don’t know how well I’d like it for a full novel.
So what are your thoughts?  How do you prefer to read books?  And do you think I’ve missed any major points either for or against the various types of books?
Leave a comment


  1. It kind of stacks up like this for me:

    1) I get hardback when its an author I know and I don’t want to wait for the paperback, *or* it’s something like “Lord of the Rings” which I realized I would want to own in a nice edition after I first read it in paperback.

    2) Paperbacks are sort of a catch all, things I’ve picked up for a lot of reasons – sometimes because they are cheaper, sometimes because I picked them up used, sometimes because genre titles don’t always come out in hardcover.

    3) Kindle – I really like my kindle, and my criteria tends to be this – books I’m only likely to read once – for instance, a lot of mystery/action adventure titles – easy, convenient, and they do not take up shelf space. Sometimes I get the ebook for *real* instant gratification, and sometimes because I don’t know if I am going to like it.

    4) I have really come to enjoy audio editions. I got started a year ago when I was making some long drives at least once a month, and also came to enjoy them during commutes and while walking or working out. Action adventure helps the miles fly by while traveling. Yes, they are pricey, but there are ways – for instance, I used to save all my change in a jar and periodically cash them in for iTunes credit at a coinstar.

    • I didn’t think about the drive time that audiobooks can help you kill. I do use my iPod constantly in my car (I hate radio, way too many commercials) but I don’t currently drive long distances consistently enough for audiobooks. Even when I was going to school it was only a 20 minute drive, not nearly long enough to get into a book. I don’t have a Kindle (hence why it wasn’t on the list), the only e-reader I’ve ever really used was a Literati that my brother got me for Christmas last year and I hated it. Granted the Literati isn’t an e-ink screen like the Kindle or Nook, it’s an LCD screen. I haven’t spent enough time with a Kindle to have much of an opinion on it.

  2. I don’t do audiobooks if I can help it, mostly I like don’t drive much. If I actually drove, I might get them, but my commute involves public transit instead.

    My preference is paperback, because I do read a lot on my commute or on lunch break. Hardcover books are pretty, but they’re a pain to lug around. I also prefer to get my books used if I can help it, because I think used books have more character.

    I haven’t gotten a Kindle/Nook yet, mostly because I’m waiting a few years until e-book files start having more standardized formatting. I don’t want to buy a product that’s tied to a store that might fail.

    • I agree that paperbacks are probably the best simply for reading, although hardcovers are wonderful if you’re going for the collection. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. stacybuckeye

     /  August 4, 2011

    I always have an audio book going in the car. I get them from the library so they are free!


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