As far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest inventions on this planet was the paperback book.
I love paperback books. Small, compact, light weight little treasures that can be held in one hand leaving your second hand free to hold a glass of water or wine or to pet the cat sitting in your lap.
They say that e-readers are killing the print book market. I hope not. It was the paperback book that brought cheap literature to the masses. And while many e-reader books are free or inexpensive, the reader itself can be quite pricey and out of reach of the poor.
A paperback book is very different from an e-book or a hardcover. An e-book feels somehow disposable. A hardcover on the other hand, feels more… permanent. You have to care for a hardcover. A hardcover is an investment. It’s meant to have a place on your bookshelf for years and decades to come. But a soft cover is more care free than either of those and the mass market paperback is the free spirit of the book world. I can turn down the corner of a paperback’s page and not feel guilty. I can write my name inside the cover or doodle in the margins. I can read it in the bathtub where it doesn’t matter if it gets hit with a few droplets of water. And if I doze off and drop it into the bath, well, a few hours drying in the sunlight makes it readable once again and besides, it didn’t cost much anyway and the now rippled pages only add character.
I love new paperback books, crisp and clean and full of promise. I love old paperback books too with their orangey yellow pages and broken spines. I love the familiar, woodsy scent of the paper and the slightly rough texture that I feel when I run my fingers across the page. I often judge a book by its cover, attracted to it’s bright colors or inspiring cover art. And the back of the cover blurb is, nine times out of ten, what causes me to either buy a book or place it back on the bookstore shelf.
Today is national paperback book day. Grab a novel, head for the hammock, and have a happy one.