- Hardcover? Or paperback?
- Illustrations? Or just text?
- First editions? Or you don’t care?
- Signed by the author? Or not?
I think my tastes have changed over the decades and continue to evolve with seasons in life, financial status, and technological inventions.
Hardcover or Paperback: I used to love hardcover books and would have preferred to buy them exclusively, if money had allowed. I think I preferred the sturdiness of the binding (I can never read a paperback book without creasing the spine) and the pages seem less likely to rip or tear. I also really like the way hardback books display on the bookshelf: looks like my own bookstore or library and makes me smile.
Over the past few years, however, I have noticed that my buying patterns have changed: I rarely purchase hardback books anymore. Now, the change initially began due to finances — I could buy 3 paperbacks for the same price as a hardback. Also, I am so far behind the times with reading, that while I may “want” to buy the newest bestseller, I know that I will not get around to reading for quite sometime, so I might as well wait for the paperback version (I also like to think that this has something to do with maturity and I am more patient now and less likely to give into the spontaneous purchase). In making this transition, however, I have discovered that I truly do enjoy reading the paperback versions. They are infinitely more portable: they easily fit into my purse or backpack and I have reading material anywhere I go. As I grow older the print size may become an issue, but I figure I can always get stronger reading glasses.
HOWEVER…….I have recently acquired a Kindle as an early birthday present (I have the kindle version 1 – not the newly released kindle 2) and while I do not ever intend to keep all my reading material on the kindle — I do have a large number of classics downloaded (public domain books are free and free is good for my limited pocketbook). This means that in the size and weight of 1 paperpack book, I can now carry 100s of books in my purse or backpack. Another benefit for a middle-aged reader like myself, is that I can increase the size of the font with a click of a button.
Illustrations or just text: I have honestly never given this one a thought. I think every one of my literary books is strictly text (or perhaps there is one or two author illustrations thrown in, like in the Hobbit or A Christmas Carol). I have mentioned my “black and white” personality before and I guess it truly comes into play here. When I think of reading a book I want to read — not look at pictures. Somehow those are two separate activities for me.
However, when it comes to cookbooks — I definitely want illustrations. I want to see what the finished product should look like (and looking at all those lovely photographs of food definitely inspire to head into the kitchen) – and I also want illustrations to show my how to prepare the dish (sometimes I like step-by-step — but usually just one or two photos regarding a new technique is what I desire). As a sideline, if there are some of you who enjoy illustrated recipes, you definitely must visit the Pioneer Woman’s blog — absolutely amazing!!
First editions or don’t care: I guess for right now my answer would be I don’t care. I am more interested in the words on the page and the story they tell than I am with the copyright date and number of printings. Having said that, however, if money were no object, I can easily see myself beginning a hobby of first edition collections.
Signed by the author or not: again, at the present time I must say that I don’t care. Although…..I sure wish I leaved in a major metropolitan area where author signings were more prevalent. We have an independent bookstore in Kansas City that will often host author get-togethers that include a book signing, but that is my only resource for now. I only have one signed book in my possession and it is only because my daughter really, really, really wanted to meet Stephanie Meyers and everyone in attendance had to purchase her latest book, The Host. So, the one autographed book I have is a book in a genre that I really cannot relate. Sigh……