Robin Rendle
• San Francisco, California

Everything that books ought to be

I do not hate many things in this world but I will make one exception. Each day I pour all my vitriol and hatred into this thing and hour by hour my hatred increases steadily. So I ask you to please bear with me whilst I throw off this veil of enthusiasm and show you how utterly spiteful I can be at my very worst: hardcover books are the single worst thing in the entire galaxy.

There, I said it.

They’re heavy, they’re clunky to hold, the jacket is tacky and sticky and awful. It’s difficult to read the dang things because they require so much energy to wrench open. Not only that but they have sharp edges that dig into my belly when I read in bed and for this punishment I have to pay a mysteriously expensive price because they’re often cheaper than the paperback edition (I’m sure there’s some shady market stuff or economics going on there that I don’t know about). And not only all that but then you can only buy the hardcover edition—you must wait months for the soft, painless, no belly-jabbing paperback.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. I remember reading the physical edition of Art Space Tokyo a decade ago and coming to the conclusion that I despise Craig Mod for making me not only enjoy a hardcover book but admire it, too. Except this hardcover was different. The edges didn’t prod me. And it didn’t take much effort to crack open. It was as light as a paperback and I never thought once about owning an alternative version instead.

But these types of hardcovers are one-in-a-million. They’re so uncommon that I think most people have never truly held a beautifully made book before. I think in total I own dozens and dozens of books that are well written, funny, and insightful but only 3 or 4 of them are perfectly made Books with a capital B.

In short; never buy a hardcover book.

But can we talk about how much lovelier paperbacks are for a moment? They’re better in every way: lighter, smaller, easier to hold and carry. There’s often no sticky plastic jacket to misplace, and there’s no need to crack it open at the midpoint to read the text. You can fold them up, scrunch them into a ball, and throw them into the depths of your bag without worrying about anything.

Paperbacks are everything that books ought to be.