Of paperbacks and hardcovers — why?
today at 12:05 pm
I was just leaving a note for a friend on a LinkedIn post when I added a comment that I recognized his paperback copy of Strunk and White (as we word mavens call the classic book by those two, “The Elements of Style”).
I wrote that I had two paperback copies of the book and wore them out. Then I bought myself a hardcover copy (which is still within reach as I write this).
Then it struck me that I always refer to my books that way — paperbacks and hardcovers, They’re never papercovers and hardbacks, at least not to me. I had to make sure I could type the previous sentence.
I’ve heard some people refer to paperback and hardback books, and some to softcover and hardcover… come to think of it, that second one is usually the kind of people who talk about “editions” rather than books.
I wonder whether it’s like pop. soda, and coke — another regional expression that varies around the country and the world.
I still have to tell people I don’t know well that if I say yes to a soda, I’ll expect ice cream. I’ve had a bottle of pop already today, and I had to remind myself to refer to it as Pepsi when I bought it. I grew up being asked “Want a coke?” followed by “What kind?” (The answer was always yes.) The answer to “What kind?” was sometimes root beer, and sometimes ginger ale!
So if paperbacks and hardcovers are in for some similar linguistic changes, I think I’ll be glad that only in rare cases do I have the same book in each form.
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