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Save the Paperback!

I read an article earlier this morning, stating that paperback sales are down by over 25%, in a year.  I read it and almost spat my coffee out, in a fit of panic.  I am Pro-paperback….let’s give me a chance to get you to turn Pro, too.

From early childhood, I’ve taken pleasure in reading stories.  I had no appreciation of the style it was written in, or even the actual writing itself but I adored the feeling of being eaten up into another world.  There was something magical about your Protagonist coming to life, with each turn of the page.  The waking of imagination as you gave them a face and a voice.  The Author provided the outline and I loved nothing more than colouring it in.

My favourite childhood book was Flour Babies by Anne Fine.  I loved the humour and the sense of being trusted with a real story.  It was funny but sad.  It was naughty but gave the right message.  It was mine.

I still have my copy of Flour Babies.  Maybe it was the book that shaped my love of literature.  As you can see, it’s yellowed and bedraggled and bursting with memories.  I can flick the pages and be that little girl again.  And maybe I’m silly and overly sentimental but…


…there’s no flicking to be had, with an E-Reader.  I know all of the positives to be had, I get it.

  • They’re lighter – I’m sorry.  Are your paperbacks lined with lead?  A standard paperback weighs 130g more than say, a Kindle.  You’re not going to pump muscle with one of these babies in your bag.
  • You can have thousands of titles at your very fingertips – Oh that’s great…if you’re Johnny 5.  If you’re not Johnny 5, you are probably going to read a book at a time.
  • They are more environmentally friendly – Trees are grown especially for the paper.  I believe this to be a cop-out.
  • You don’t have to leave your house to purchase a book, thus being more convenient – Are we not, ‘battling the bulge’, internationally?  Come on, get up off your backside and go and buy a book, you lazy goat!

Oh I’ve gone off in a rant, inside my head, when it comes to the last point listed.  As a fan of books, I enjoy the book shop experience.  I love walking in and looking for what I want. Even better…I love going in and not having any idea at all.

I can spend hours, just pulling titles off the shelves and reading their synopses, checking out the different categories, switching between the informative and the imaginative.  I savour the choice before my eyes.

I also find them a place of solace, a place where you can get lost for a little while as you peek into different worlds and knowledge.  And there is no place better than a privately run Bookshop.   The little ones that sell hidden gems, like this one I found…


And then there is the whole, reading experience.  I’ve tried reading on one of these readers… it’s not the same.

It’s the suspense in the turn of the page, the feel of it between your fingers… the few pages of the story remaining (as opposed to 18%).  It’s the smell of a new book and the crispness of the pages.  The history of an old book and its aged beauty.

I can only foresee the paperback taking the same route as the CD.  Give it twenty years…there’ll be little or few new published.  Well, I shall not go to the dark side and I invite you to do the same.

Are we at the beginning of the end, of our love affair, with the paperback book?

God, I really hope not.


About GinAndTulips

Gin and Tulips; The home of the frolicking G&T Lovers. Come in, pull up a comfy seat and make yourself at home. And if you like it. Join us.

11 responses »

  1. As someone who owns a Nook, but still prefers the real thing, I appreciate this post very much. Yes, it’s very convenient to have my Nook with me when I go places, like on vacation, but, with ebook prices being virtually the same as a paperback book price, I would rather have the physical thing. Not only that, I prefer the smell of books to the smell of my Nook. 😛

    Another issue with my e-reader is the fact that I can’t easily count the pages of the next chapter (a really weird habit of mine–I guess I like to know how long the next chapter is so I can gauge the amount of time I will need). Also, like you mentioned, it’s more difficult to anticipate the end. My Nook displays the page count (224 out of 440 for example). That’s great, but it doesn’t allow me to feel the end nearing.

    I like my Nook, I really do, but I think any true lover of books should have a paperback collection as well. There’s a real benefit and bond to having a book to flip through versus a book you click through.

    Great post and thank you for giving me something to comment on (I was beginning to think I wouldn’t find anything that inspired a comment in me).

    Happy reading!

    • Hi Samantha, thank you for commenting…and thanks for being interested. I have never smelled a Nook but I can’t say that I mind :). For me, I think it boils down to the fact that I view books as precious. Spread the word…

      Buy paperbacks! 🙂

  2. Paperbacks do fit nicely in a purse, but other books, not so much–like 925-page 1Q84 or 1,044-page Reamde. And I’ve brought a book to a doctor’s appointment (or some other long-wait event) finished the book, and wished I’d brought an e-reader.
    Otherwise, I prefer reading paperbacks, too.

    • I totally get that, Caitlin, I really do. But, for me, it’s not enough to make me make the progression. I think I would read less if I had to.
      I’m an old Romantic really, I don’t think I’ll ever be turned, on this one 🙂

  3. The only issue with your last argument, that people shouldn’t be too lazy to go to a bookstore, is that e-readers allow you to access thousands of books not AVAILABLE in book stores. The majority of the books I buy on my Kindle would never make it to a bookstore or library because they’re printed by small publishers. Often the paperback versions of these books are as much as $40 because they only published one set before moving to Kindle and so the paperbacks are very rare. I agree people should still buy paperback and hardback books (I tend to buy hard copies of books I like even if I have the Kindle version already), but it seems silly to knock e-readers when they actually allow readers access to far more books than physical book stores alone can manage.

    • There will always be exceptions and your point is one of them. Maybe if I was desperate to read a text that couldn’t be found on the shelves, I’d source an E-Reader. I can’t say it hasn’t happened to me yet, though. In fact, I am waiting to read a novel that is out on the Kindle but not in paperback…and I will wait. I know that’s purely personal preference but that is what I wanted to convey.
      I wanted to touch on the positives on the E-Reader but I didn’t want to make it the basis of the piece. There are other plus sides, such as the free classics. But what I wanted to explore was my love of the paperback and the whole experience of reading a book…from buying it to finishing it. Just wanted to get my two penneth in before E-Readers take over the world 🙂

  4. lol. oh my goodness, how do I respond to this without saying anything bad about my “bread and butter” business 🙂 I will say this though, I am very deeply saddened by all the book stores closing in the U.S. 😦


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