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Book Term Poll: Hardback, Hardcover or Hardbound?

   March 30th, 2010

Hardback book stackWe got into a discussion at work about whether the proper term for a book with stiff covers is referred to as a hardback book, a hardcover book, or a hardbound book. I was out-voted, but I like to think that I wasn't wrong so much as our sample size was too small.

I grew up in Ohio, so I wonder if the term I use is different from my New England coworkers because it's a regional thing. I'm not a linguist, but regional variations in vocabulary have fascinated me ever since I went off to college and met people from different parts of the country. Bubbler? Slippy? Creamies? These words* are great.

Anyway, my coworkers and I all agreed that pretty much everyone uses paperback to refer to soft-cover books (except for spiral-bound books). So please, answer the poll below to help determine which term is more popular.

Thank you for helping satisfy my curiosity.

And speaking of surveys, here's another interesting question on Unshelved Answers: What is the best way to turn the pages of a book?.


*Here are what those words mean:
Bubbler: a "drinking fountain" in New England (like this, not this)
Slippy: how people in some parts of Pennsylvania say "slippery" (among others)
Creamies: "soft-serve ice cream cones" in Vermont (like this)

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5 Responses to “Book Term Poll: Hardback, Hardcover or Hardbound?”

  1. erin Says:

    I’ve always called them “hardback” (I’m from Texas), though I’ve heard the other terms as well. But to add another wrinkle, there are also many book vendor descriptions that use “Cloth” vs “Paper.”

  2. Genevieve Says:

    Many cataloging records call them “cloth” or “cloth-bound,” so that’s become interchangeable for me as well.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    I do see “cloth” more and more, but that just seems confusing (especially for patrons). Also, if I could, I’d never buy another spiral-bound book for the library.

    After 223 votes, “hardcover” has consistently gained 60% percent of the vote, so I guess that’s the winner. I personally say “hardback,” and will probably continue to do so, and will chalk it up to my Buckeye background. Thanks everyone for voting.

  4. Doc Says:

    There are far more bindings than hardcover and paperback; there is also Lay-Flat (OTA), spiral wire, spiral plastic, twin-wire, plastic comb, leather binding, hardcover with dustjacket, and a few more I can’t recall.

  5. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Doc: true – in this case though, people only had a problem with me calling books “hardbacks.” However, other polls might be worthwhile too.