The Joys and Perils of Owning a Paperback Book

UPDATE: As of this morning, I have sold two copies of my book, and had one person borrow it with their Amazon Prime account. Yay! Baby steps, my friends, baby steps. And as you can see, my makeover of this blog is ongoing.

Recently I was looking through my bookcase. It’s a real, raw wood one that I’m not sure you can get anywhere anymore. Over the years, there have been books that have been “keepers” as well as ones that had a temporary place on the shelf until I would trade them in or donate them to Goodwill. One of the ones that I kept, for some reason, was this one:

pearl in the mist book cover

Pearl in the Mist, Book 2 of The Landry Series, by V.C. Andrews

The foil on the cover is a bonus. I don’t think you can get anything like this anymore, even if Pearl in the Mist is actually still in print. One thing you really can’t get with an ebook is this:
inside of pearl in the mist cover

The peek-a-boo cover, exclusively available with paperback books.

Yes, I suppose one could upload two covers… Although I’ve never seen this as an option. Oh, I know, you’d probably insert the picture right into the text of the book. I’m not sure. I’d have to try it for myself. Anyway, I used to LOVE this when I was reading V.C. Andrews’ books, and would go out of my way to find ones that had this kind of cover, usually the first edition in paperback.
But there’s a price to pay for the glitz… I opened the book and was shocked by what I saw:
inside back cover

Look, they even gave you a cool bookmark that you could detach from the back cover for free!

When I did this:
inside back cover opened completely

Terrible acid burning!

I am not certain whether it was only that I kept it in a raw wooden bookcase. For most of its life the book was in a climate controlled (air conditioned and heated) environment, was not put out in the sun… But this is what happens to many of the mass-market paperback books. This copy was $6.50 full retail price back in the day (copyright 1994) so even by 20 years ago standards, that’s pretty expensive! Was this book published with cheaper paper made with a lot of wood pulp? For $6.50 you’d think you’d get at least paper that had the acid buffered out of it.
Now, of course, if I wanted a permanent copy of this book, I’d get the ebook version, fancy covers be damned. The ebook, so long as I own something on which to read it, will be there forever. All my paperbacks will eventually suffer the same fate as Pearl in the Mist.
Just something I thought about.

Posted by SB James

I am the author of the Steampunk/Gaslamp Fantasy series "The Inventor's Son." Find out more at


I still own some paperback books, but they kind of litter my closet. Not much space!


Yeah, I confess I’ve got books in the closet too. A couple of hardcovers actually, LOL.

Right? Some of my favorites are locked away in there. I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them, no matter what.


Someone gave me this old book with short stories about vampires spanning from an old Lord Shelley story to someone much more contemporary. I can’t bring myself to toss it or give it to Goodwill. Lots of used book stores won’t take hardcover books, from what I recall.

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