I suppose it is not a sign of my good taste or reverence for books that so many I own are paperbacks. I have fairly strict criteria for buying hardbound volumes: If the book is a gift, if it is a work I expect to frequently reread, if it is a reference book, or if it is something I just can’t wait to get my hands on. (Also, if it is offered at steep discount from Sam’s Club or Costco, but I can be flexible on that point.)
Thus, I recently sent my brother, for his birthday, a hardbound copy of Ian Rankin’s new title, “The Naming of the Dead” even though I’d have been content to wait for the paperback myself. That’s not an entirely selfless act: While I have loved nearly all the Rebus novels, I’ve found the most recent entries to have taken on kind of a meandering quality. I’ll see what my brother Mike has to say before picking up a copy for myself.
A number of books in my eclectic collection of hardbounds I’m not particularly proud to display — there are quite a few Stephen King titles, for example, bought years ago when I really wanted a page-turner for a long trip or something. In my defense, all were steeply discounted.
You’ll find an interesting exchange on this very subject at the It’s a Crime! (or a mystery …) blog, http://itsacrime.typepad.com/its_a_crime_or_a_mystery/2007/06/after_the_hard_.html#more Big hardbacks, especially by A-list crime-fiction authors, remind of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Detectives Beyond Borders
“Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”