Monday, April 28, 2014

The Origin Difference: What Formats Do You Favor?

Yesterday, I complained to a friend about how I hadn't gone book shopping in a couple of weeks.

Unfazed, she reminded me that I had just purchased six books on Kindle the previous day (because she's helpful like that). After several protests from me, explaining how different those two concepts are, she asked me why I found physical books so much more appealing than ebooks. Not wanting to get into yet another discussion about the relative merits of e-readers, I expostulated on the many merits of all forms of books, not just tethered to the physical and technological realms.

As I was detailing the stolid beauty of an old secondhand hardback, or the transient love affairs of library books, it began to dawn on me how much I enjoy one type of book over another. Not just in purchase, but in reviewing, as well. Why do I have these kind of prejudices for and against stories based on not how they're told, but how they're sold? Why do I favor certain formats, in both consuming and reviewing? So, I set about making a list. Unranked, unrestrained, here's my reasoning behind my own format favor: 


Cost: Blissfully, gloriously free. Usually teen reads I don't feel seriously enough about to actually purchase, their non-impact on my bank account and marshmallow-type subject matter make for less necessity on my part to actually enjoy it, which results in either the kind of comfort and absence of pressure that makes reading the book a brain vacation, which I rate reasonably high, or, if its just not what I'm looking for, I don't feel any sort of qualms about DNFing. Therefore, grading is a little less tethered to cost, than me actually liking it. Support your local libraries! 

Cost: Usually less than $5 unless I'm really, really dedicated to the series, or if it's a new release. These are my popcorn reads, the babies I fly through at Superman speeds while on long car rides or waiting for class to begin. However, over time, my ebook needs have been changing: what began simply as a means of hiding the worst of my gushy YA habits, has become my crutch, in a means of easily procuring whatever reading materials I'm craving at that very second. Most of my Kindle books result in lesser rankings, due to their cheapness and the relative ease with which they are procured... which is sad, because I feel like this is how I buy about half of my current reading material. 

Cost: Fairly average for the amount I'm willing to spend on a book, around $15, I think. They're not new releases - otherwise they'd be in hardcover - so there's less pressure to be thought highly of, but due to the fact that they're also usually something I've been looking forward to reading, due to aforementioned hardcover issues, I've built up my own expectations and fully succumbed to hype. Due to that fact, they're usually not as good as I've imagined them to be, but since I paid good money for them, and was basically predetermined to enjoy them, the scores usually even out in their favor. 

Cost: Hella expensive, usually around $20 or more. The most expensive of all my book purchases, I really try not to make this one a habit, but being that my mother feels no such qualms about discerning between various book formats, she routinely kills me by purchasing these new releases, and then handing them off to me when she's finished. With a sturdiness that lends it a certain demand to be thought highly of, hardcovers usually are enjoyed less, but rated more highly, by me, due to their sheer dominating strength and imposing nature. 

Cost: Free as the birds in the sky, but virtually priceless to the procurer. ARCs aren't just free, they're untested, unproved, books with no past and only a glimmering future that you can help decide. Especially in the book blogger community, ARCs are a status symbol, our nerd version of street cred, and something one can never have enough of. ARCs are the best, and since there's usually not any conflicting reviews out while you're reading, you really are free to make confident claims about how you actually think the book is. Usually with a better score, because holding them makes me feel good. #notashamed. 

Cost: Usually around or under $5. Aw, my darling secondhand babies. Inexpensive, but almost like a different kind of book-buying altogether, with alternative stories pressed in between the pages of the old ones... there's nothing like finding the goldmine of handwritten notes or the pearl of another's bookmark, pressed flower, or newspaper clipping. Besides, you just can't beat that smell. Usually best loved and best looked after, secondhand books make me feel like I'm adopting, giving a book a second chance at life. Rated highly for the benefit of history. 

So, how about you? Do you favor specific formats?


  1. This is a great post. I personally only get books from my library. I just can't afford to buy everything I read. But I would have a huge library if I did buy them all. I do really like ebooks for trips. Man does it make a trip so much more light weight. I am going to comic con soon and packing up the car I am just not going to have room for big old clunky books.

  2. I buy most of the books in paperback. Not only because it's cheaper, but I like reading this format over hardback. It's easier to hold and I like that there is more comfort when you flip the pages. I'm also very happy with ARC's of course ;) It's wonderful to read a book before publication date, but I'm always careful with requesting them. I don't want to get hundreds of books I'm not interested in, even when they are free. I also like e-books, but I will always prefer paperbacks. I don't really see an e-book as something I 'own' for some strange reason. Perhaps because I can't touch it and put it on the shelves? But e-books are great for bringing with me on vacation.