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May 27, 2016

No More Hardbound Computer Titles

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

When you buy a “real” book, you have a choice: The first release is generally a hardbound copy, which I find delightful.

Hardbound books are wonderful to touch. They have a good feel to them, a professional edge and presentation. They stack well on a shelf.

Of course, you can wait and get the paperback version. It’s cheaper, but it contains the same text. The problem with paperback books is that they last for about one reading only. If you keep reading the book, the binding eventually fails and chunks of paper (called signatures) fall out.

Computer books use trade binding, which is a bit more robust than paperback binding. I have a few older books I still use where the binding has broken. I used some clear packing tape to re-seal the binding, but the book is truly falling apart. By the way, authors love that!

When I first started writing about technology, I did a few titles for TAB Books. If you’re crusty enough, you’ll remember TAB Books. They had the first computer book club. I was a member way back in the 1980s, well before I wrote books for them.

The fascinating thing about the TAB Computer Book Club was that the computer books you received were hardbound.

You signed up for the book club and got 8 or so books for a penny. Then every so often they’d either send you a book or you could order a title at full price. This process is typical of most book clubs, but for TAB all the titles were technology-related.

I purchased many programming books, hardware books, all sorts of stuff from the TAB Computer Book Club. And I enjoyed the books. I didn’t even find it odd taht the titles were hardbound.

Today, of course, consumer computer books are softbound. Because the technology changes so quickly, no one really thinks about putting a hard cover on a computer book that you’re going to toss out in a few years. (That thought remains unsettling to me; it’s rare that I toss any book.)

When I wrote books for TAB, they sent me the softbound editions. I don’t have any hardbound copies left. (I think I gave them away.) So it’s been years — decades, really — since I wrote a book that came out with a hard cover.

My most recent hardbound title, is Our 10 Millionth Dummy. I’ve written about it before on this blog, but I saw it on the shelf and recalled all those old hardbound books I received from the TAB Computer Book Club. I had them all until recently, when I purged my library. I’m disappointed that I didn’t keep them, despite their irrelevance. That’s because a hardbound computer book is a rare thing indeed.

Figure 1. The 10 millionth For Dummies book off the press, C For Dummies, Volume I

Figure 1. The 10 millionth For Dummies book off the press, C For Dummies, Volume I


  1. Hard bound books look better on the shelf but sadly are dearer & heavier. I like books (I want a library/lab that I can research my evil plans in,but enough). These days most of my friends who use programming titles get them on Kindle rather than paper, some thing I’ve not really got into.

    Comment by glennp — May 27, 2016 @ 12:35 am

  2. I’ve tried using programming references on Kindle. It just doesn’t work for me. I prefer dogeared pages and writing in the margins. The electronic version of that just doesn’t cut it.

    Comment by admin — May 27, 2016 @ 8:00 am

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