Hardback vs. Paperback: A Comic Compendium One-Shot

Which is better for the voracious comic book collector? And is the dust-jacket really that important?

I’m fairly certain that some of you aren’t going to understand what I’m complaining about, but surely you’re aware of the differences between a hardback and a paperback book? The hardback is released first, followed about three to six months later by the paperback which is generally a bit cheaper. When it comes to comics, the size between a paperback and hardback is generally the same, although with maybe a slight increase in the size of the latter. The main difference is purely the dust-jacket, with the same artwork featured on either edition (although different collections may feature varying art from previous books containing the same issues). Yet Marvel is blurring the line between their hardback and paperback publications by removing the all-important dust-jacket from some of their sturdier releases.

The argument for removing the dust-jacket is that some people don’t like how they eventually get battered and ripped from wear and tear, causing them to appear cheap and horrible. But surely without a dust cover the “damage” readers complain about would just happen to the unprotected hardcover instead, causing scuffs and marks to the book anyway. When you remove the dust-jacket, hardcover comics also have the general appearance and feel of a regular hardback book, albeit a bit larger and thinner, making them look like important works of literature. Laugh as you see an older person take one from the shelf, only to realise its Ms Marvel and not Jane Austen.

The first time I saw the new type of hardcover was when I received my copy of Secret Avengers – Vol. 1 by Rick Remender, and my initial reaction was one of confusion followed by disappointment that it wasn’t a Beano annual sent to me by accident. It has the same type of covering used for those sorts of yearly annuals for children that you see every Christmas, and isn’t exactly going to help narrow-minded people who hold the belief that comics are already quite childish. Dust-jackets give off an air of worth and a sense of maturity and are instantly preferable to the new cheaper and tackier option. Marvel have confirmed that this is the way they’re heading, and while it might be a cost-cutting exercise in the future, I will now wait for the cheaper paperback edition before buying a comic for my collection.

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