Review: Paperback Books

There’s been a huge leap forwards in book technology, and here at Gear Diary we have an exclusive first look! It’s exciting, it’s svelte and pocketable, it’s shiny and colorful and new…yes, I’m talking about the paperback book!

Sure, we’re all familiar with the usual hardcovers and scrolls, but this is a breakthrough. Now you can carry two, even three titles with you for the same space and weight as a hardcover title. But is the smaller size and convenience worth the tradeoff against the heft and comforting size of a hardcover? Read on to find out!

My first impression upon opening the review sample was, “Wow, so small!” This truly is a huge leap forwards, it’s significantly smaller than a hardcover as you can see above. Despite the smaller size and less robust binding system, it still oozes quality. All the pages are cut evenly, and the binding feels like it could survive at least five or six full reads. Plus, the smaller size makes it far easier to hold in your hands, and you don’t get the same “wrist fatigue” that you get from holding a hardcover if you’re reading while standing on the subway or waiting in line at the grocery store.

The downside to this new, compact book is durability. Treated right, a paperback should last you a long time, but there’s several vulnerable points. Yes, jacket covers are prone to ripping on hardcovers, but at least the underlying book is protected. With a paperback, there’s no jacket, and the corners are especially prone to wear and ripping. A few third parties have begun to come out with protective cases, but if you prefer to use your books “naked” it’s something to watch. In addition, to read comfortably once you get to the middle of the book, you may need to push or even crease the binding. Repeated creasing can break down the outside edge, so, again, be careful where there are weak spots.

There are some areas the paperback doesn’t do much to improve on what’s already a good thing. For starters, the print is as crisp as ever, and (barring water or coffee), the ink doesn’t smudge or become illegible. While the margins aren’t quite as wide as a hardcover, there’s still ample room to make notes, highlights, and doodles.

Of course, the downside is that the paperback has many of the same flaws as any printed material. For starters, wet pages make the edges puff up and curl. Being in sunlight for too long can yellow the pages, and glues can break down. Not to mention, without a case you’re stuck with the default book cover, which may not be to your taste (or worse, may be embarrassing/offensive to read in a public place).

Overall, the paperback book is a great format, combining portability with quality printing. Having gotten my hot little hands on one, I can’t imagine going back to hardcovers full-time. This could be the future of reading, and I am quite sure nothing could unseat this new format. We’ll all be reading paperbacks for years and years to come!

You can find paperbacks at your local Barnes and Noble, Borders, and (rumor has it) Costco! Prices range from $7.99 to $16.99, generally.

What I Like: Compact, lightweight design; clean and easy to read printing

What Needs Improvement: Prone to wear on the edges; vulnerable to water damage.

Source: Advanced publisher copy.

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9 replies

  1. Maybe I’m old-school but I don’t get the point of this. Sorry.

    • I know you love the feel of a nice hefty hardcover, but what about when you’re on vacation? Soooo much lighter to carry these new paperbacks. Trust me, they are the next big thing.

      • But don’t you lose something in the reading experience when you are using this lighter paperback? I just don’t see how it can possibly feel the same or be as rich an experience, reading from something so small and unsubstantial. =/

  2. LOL!

  3. I really hate today.


  1. This Small Softcover Book