The Big Ol’ Question: Paperbacks, Hardbacks or Ebooks?!

This is one of those questions most bloggers seem to tackle, isn’t it? On the list of questions most frequently asked to or by booklovers, “What do you prefer — paperbacks, hardbacks or ebooks?” must be pretty high up there along with Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be: that is the question.”

Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit (something I never do, pffft!) but it does come up pretty often! Especially in the book-blogging community! Which is absolutely fine because I have a lot of opinions about this topic (you know me…) and what better place than the internet to voice them? After all, this is the corner where I pretend the world is oh-so interested in my opinions that they must read them n o w.

Hardback, paperback, ebook flat

But I’m going on a tangent. The important thing is that I’m going to be answering this question, and probably won’t bring anything new to the discussion but oh well. Let’s get started!

In short: what do you prefer — paperbacks, hardbacks or ebooks?

I have two favorites: paperbacks and ebooks. Does this count as cheating? I love them both for different reasons and can’t really see myself living without either of them.

Disclaimer: I decided not to include audiobooks here because I really don’t have that much experience with them. They don’t have them at my local library and I can’t justify spending $10+ on an audiobook, I don’t even get to hold a physical copy or peruse it. I’m limited to free audiobooks I find online or to free online trials. #livingthecheaplife.


Let’s get hardbacks (or hardcovers) out of the way first. They are my least favorite book format. Seriously. I see so many downsides to owning hardbacks that any positive points are just canceled out completely. Here is a list of reasons why I despise hardbacks:

  • they are expensive as hell! This has to be the number one reason why I stay away from hardbacks. They are so much more expensive than the paperback version, why?! I mean, I get why they’re more expensive, but I, personally can’t justify spending $7 more on a hardback than I would on a paperback. You know me, I’m reluctant to spend money when I don’t have to — that’s not a great personality trait to have, but it could be worse!
  • they are heavier than my cats! Dear publishing industry, I’m a bookworm, not a gym nut. Please understand that me + lifting weights = 😩. I don’t appreciate reading about my main character going through a life-changing experience and feeling my forearms tingle and sore. Much appreciated!
  • they come with those weak, floppy extra cover I don’t know how to name?! I’m not a fan of the dust covers that come with hardcover books (is that what they’re called?) When I’m reading the book I take that cover off and put it down on my table, however, when I finish it and want to put the book away I notice that the cover is gone. This has not happened once or twice, but every single time I’ve read a hardback book. Yes, I know it’s my fault, but I’m a naturally forgetful person, and these covers don’t help me mask that terrible fact about me from myself.
  • reading them is not comfortable… Not only are they heavy, they don’t really open just they way I want them to. I don’t know what it is with them, but opening them up just doesn’t feel as comfortable as opening a paperback version.
  • I don’t have a bookstagram, so no point in getting a dolled up version of a book — This is basically just an overview of all the points I brought up: pretty, but way too much for my blood. Because I never take pictures of my books (something I plan on changing!) I wouldn’t be able to justify buying hardbacks and just have them lying around.

But because not everything is bad, here is a reluctant list about how they aren’t the worst thing to have ever happened to the book world:

  • they’re still books! Even a bad version of a book is better than no book at all, am I right? No matter how much crap I give hardbacks, I can still be absorbed by the story and have my day made better by that story.
  • they are absolutely gorgeous… Okay, I’ll hand it to you, hardback lovers, they look pretty stunning most of the time. Not only are the covers I see at the bookstore and all over booktube and bookish blogs beautiful, they also look very charming and classy.
  • they are good home decorative pieces. Related to the previous point but slightly different, hardbacks are beautiful things to have on display on a shelf or on the coffee table/nightstand.
  • they are good weapons. Wait, who wrote that? Point is, if you need to squash something and you’re at a pinch, a hardback has you covered. Anything from annoying bugs to the overwhelming load of stress that comes with school and work can be easily conquered with a hardback.
  • they’re durable. If you’re going to haul a book around in your bag like I do, you’re probably better off bringing a hardback copy. The hard corners of the book are way less likely to become torn up and all bent. They seem to be like cockroaches — indestructible.

floral pattern

Now that I’m done hating on hardbacks, here is a list of reasons why paperbacks make my heart fill with joy and my eyes tear up. Okay, Rita, stop with the drama — we know you’re obsessed with this soap-opera anime, but cut it out!

  • they’re easy to carry around. Paperbacks are so light that popping a few in your bag won’t break your spine (well, depending on length of book, but generally it won’t). I always carry either one or two paperbacks with me whenever I go out. They’re the perfect book to bring on the go.
  • they’re much cheaper! I have a problem with spending money on most things. It’s true, I’m stingy with my money, but hey, I’m preparing for my life as an English-major graduate. Paperbacks can still be pretty expensive depending on what book we’re talking about, but they’re nowhere near as expensive as hardbacks! You will always see me reaching for the paperback version.
  • there are more paperbacks than hardbacks — consistency! I love consistency, especially when it comes to my books. I wouldn’t want to have two books by the same author or in the same series in different versions — one in paperback and the other in hardback. Because there are more paperbacks out there (especially true where I live) I tend to never buy hardbacks.
  • reading them is super comfortable. Unless we’re talking about a tome of a book like Ulysses or a Proust novel, they’re usually light which means my arms won’t hate me at the end of the day. Bonus points for not making these bad boys cry in pain after spending hours holding up a book.
  • I can open the book however I want! This might be a controversial opinion, but I like my books wide open. I don’t really care for broken spines or creased covers *gasp* unless the cover is ridiculously pretty. I like having a lot of paper exposed so that I can write on the pages and highlight my favorite parts. I simply can’t do this with hardbacks, but paperbacks are always there for me to satisfy my defacing book cravings.
    • note: I don’t trash my books, in case you were wondering! I just like the freedom that comes from writing on a book and breaking the spine and not caring about a creased cover… I really want to write a post about this too, and why I’m totally here for a book-“defacing” trend.
  • they’re nice and small and fit well in my pocket — goals! I buy my winter coats with the size of my books in mind, and most of them can fit a paperback snuggly in one of the pockets! This means that I always have a book at hand during the winter, which means happiness is at hand too. I just couldn’t fit a hardback in a pocket, so I’m glad that paperbacks seem to be the perfect size for this.

But, alas, not everything is perfect, is it? There are some things that bug me a lot when it comes to paperbacks:

  • so. many. different. sizes. It seems to me that there is no standard size for a paperback, they seem to come in all different measurements. And that’s all fine and dandy: diversity, right! But when it comes to putting them up on my shelf, I’m less than thrilled to have an uneven lineup of books. I don’t like the lack of consistency, but oh well…
  • paperbacks aren’t very durable. Who would have thought that these floppy bois would wear out easily if exposed to slightly rougher conditions? Hmmm, not me… I’ve had my fair share of books permanently damaged because I threw them in my backpack and didn’t notice the folders and textbooks that posed a threat to the paperback’s pages. It’s totally on me, but I generally don’t like to have high-maintenance things and paperbacks kind of fit into this category.


To finish this post, my other favorite kind of book: the most looked-down-upon format of all formats — the ebook. Here is a list of reasons why I love them:

  • they don’t weigh anything. at all. As we’ve established in this post, Miss Weaky here doesn’t like holding up heavy books, hence why she loves ebooks. They weigh nothing, nada, so you can read a tome of a book and not have to have the physical preparation for it.
  • you can bring your whole library with you no matter where you go! Related to the last point, you can have your entire TBR with you and not have to make room or get the guns ready to haul it around. Isn’t this just great? Think of the possibilities!
  • you can book hop all you want, no matter where you are! If you’re a mood reader like I am, ebooks are the thing for you. If I’m not feeling the fantasy novel I’m reading, I’ll switch to a contemporary, and if I’m not feeling that I’ll go to a graphic novel. The possibilities are endless! This also means that being a mood reader won’t put a strain on your back anymore. Happiness and spinal health are directly linked — finally!
  • no one can judge your reading preferences. Some covers are just plain awful, some titles are just cringy, and some covers leave a lot to be desired. Reading on an ebook solves the problem of feeling embarrassed when reading in public. For all that other commuters know, you’re reading Harry Potter when you’re actually reading the awfully named Anna and the French Kiss. Embarrassment begone!
  • more freedom to read anywhere. If you have a waterproof e-reader, then you can pretty much read wherever you want. Be it by the pool, a lake, the beach or the river, you can be immersed in your readings without having to worry about water damage.
  • you don’t have to purge books if you’re living in a small apartment or you’re moving houses. Pretty self-explanatory. Because they don’t take up any space you can have them forever without worrying about packing them all up in boxes or having to donate a dozen when you move houses.

But ebooks, too, have downsides. Here are a few of them:

  • if your e-reader breaks, it’s game over. Okay, this only applies if you rely on ebooks only, but it’s still a valid point. If your e-reader breaks, buying a new one can mean spending a lot of money depending on where you buy it and what model you want.
    • This is totally related to the fact that my e-reader broke this January when I was flying to Amsterdam. Because of the ridiculous bag policy Ryanair has, I had to take everything of value from my carry-on because it was being shipped to the bottom of the plane. Well, I had my medication bag, my computer bag, my headphones and on top of that three jackets in my hands and forgot to take my e-reader out too. They handled the bag so poorly that I ended up with a broken ereader. Thanks again, Ryanair 😒
      • although I recognize it was partly my fault, I’m still salty because I did everything the policy said, including packed lightly, and they made me get rid of my bag and wait at the airport for it. I mean, come on! Think of better policies and make room or don’t tell people how big their bags have to be all together.
      • sorry, rant over.
  • you can’t hold a beautiful copy of the book in your hands. Even though it’s what’s written that’s the most important, who doesn’t like showing off a pretty cover on their blog or around the house? I’m a fool for pretty, shiny covers and so I’d like to put a book I liked on display, which I can’t do that with ebooks.
  • you can’t flip through the pages to easily spot a part you liked... I love flipping through my books and underlining some passages, but I can’t really do that with ebooks. Even though my e-reader lets let me highlight whatever I wanted, it always takes took so long to process my request, so it was practically impossible to do.
  • there’s none of that book smell 😞 I love sniffing my books (the older the better) and this is simply something I can’t do with ebooks. Sure I can still enjoy the story, but is it really the same?

Which one do you like better, a paperback, a hardback, or an ebook? If you’ve written a post along these lines please link me to it! I’d love to read your thoughts on this old and polarizing question 😊

11 thoughts on “The Big Ol’ Question: Paperbacks, Hardbacks or Ebooks?!

  1. I like e-books the best because I can easily carry my kindle around and be reading several books at one time. It is also easier to check them out from the library because I can do it from the comfort of my own home rather than going to the library. One down side is that my library does not have all the books I want to read in e-book form.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I also prefer paperbacks and (gasp) don’t get the hype around hardcovers. For me personally, it’s way more important to feel comfortable when reading, rather than buy something for the aesthetic appeal (and that’s coming from someone with a bookstagram). However, I do appreciate that hardcovers are typically a higher price, which can benefit publishers and authors.


    1. Totally agree with you! If it’s an author I really like and a particularly pretty edition, maybe I’ll use that as a treat to when I finish writing my essays or at the end of a rather stressful week. All coping mechanisms!

      Liked by 1 person

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