Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'll wait for the paperback...

I've spent a lot of time in bookstores. Wandering from shelf to shelf. Touching the books. Taking in the smell of the paper. And occassionally reading. I've taken friends who say they "never liked to read" into my favorite bookstores and helped them find that one book that will spark a love of reading. I've watched new parents try to find their babies first book. Laughed when someone had put copies of the Bible in the Science Fiction section. Is it just me or are the chairs in bookstores the most comfortable chairs in the whole world? Yes, I've spent a lot of time in bookstores, and one question I always ask never fails to get a few odd looks.

"Well, when does it come out in paperback?"

Ask this question, and atleast one person will look at you like you're the strangest creature they've ever seen. It's usually the one with a stack of brand new hardcover new releases in his or her arms. They can't fathom why someone would want one of those icky little pocket sized books. They don't look serious or intellectual. In fact, you find them abandoned on airport benches across the country. They don't look neat and tidy wedged onto a jammed bookshelf. They don't keep that "brand new" look for very long. Does she buy them because they're cheaper??? Does she have something against cardboard???

No...

She...I mean I...buy them for the same reason a lot of people don't. They bend quickly. You get those lines down the spine from holding the book open in one place too long. the corners start to tatter from shoving it in your purse, or backpack, or pocket, or glovebox too many times. There are smudge marks from your coffee spilling on the edges of the pages. Vaguely Cheeto colored fingerprints under certain lines. By the time you've reread the book 5 times page 65 is missing, but you already know it by heart anyway.
I buy paperbooks because you can tell they are LOVED. That book becomes more YOURS than any mint condition hardback book ever will. Those unbent, untattered books depress me. They don't look like anyone has ever really loved them. Ever fallen asleep on them and bent the pages back too far. Ever left it out in the rain for a minute or two because they were reading in the sun. You know a book is beautiful, and well written, and inspiring, and funny...when it's falling apart.

That's why I always wait for the paperback.

4 comments:

Tina said...

I'm with you on the loved part, hardback or paperback. My library is filled with both, and filled with notes and highlights and probably peanut butter splotches. I like hardcovers because you don't have to break their spines to make them friendly (and my significant other won't let me bend his paperbacks. He thinks it's uncouth.

I might be a smidgen prejudiced toward hardcovers because (Blatant Self-Promotion warning) my own is premiering in hardcover. And I plan on cuddling with it all night.

Susanna said...

A lovely post. I like books that look like they've been loved, with the oily potato chip stains and brownie crumbs and worn corners where they've been toted around. I like used books were people have highlighted or made notes.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Oh my goodness, someone else who loves paperbacks and their scuffed, loved look!

And cuddling with your book, Tina LOL. Congrats on the hardback premier.

Little Miss Wicked said...

Tina, you're book will be the the only exception. I will love it and snuggle it until it files sexual harrassment charges. "But officer, I was only stroking the spine, it's not like i was licking the pages or anything!!!"