Paperback or Hardcover?

Last week’s poll question asked: “Was it reasonable of Karjakin to withdraw from the Norwegian event?” The readership is split almost down the middle. By a margin of 51%-45% the verdict was that it was not reasonable. I call that a close vote, though no doubt some politicians would call it a landslide.
This week I’ll move on from asking for opinions to looking for facts. We’re interested in: How many Quality Chess books do you have, and do you have more paperbacks or more hardcovers?
I will create 6 answers which should cover almost every possibility. If you own an exactly equal number of paperbacks and hardcovers, then I admit you don’t fit into any of the 6 categories. But you can solve that problem instantly by buying another book.

44 thoughts on “Paperback or Hardcover?”

  1. My first estimate was about 15 Books with a very high percentage of paperback. After going through the list of published Quality Chess books i counted:
    12 paperback
    10 hardcover
    3 forward chess

    I have a small complaint about the paperbacks: If they are used very often they fall apart. That happened with the English-Opening-books. In my experience the paperbacks of other publishers are more stable. Or Marins explanations are so good that i read them too often and intensively.

  2. I have more than 25 mostly hard cover. No question kabout their durability and I like the fact that they lay flat!!
    Also, I have some technical books published by Pragmatic Programmers that are paperback durable and lay flat. I would be happy to send an out of date copy to QC if they are interested in seeing the binding.

  3. Having counted my stash for the poll, it needs a new category of ‘way too many’ QC books for me considering my limited ability- neveretheless even though I’ve always bought paperback as a cheapskate (except the Grunfeld books which I got second hand in hardback), I have to say that no probs with the binding on any (hard or paperback).

    One wish is for an improvement in the index at the end- the index within each chapter is great but there is very little cross talk between chapters. You often think on first inspection that the author has missed out an important move only to later read the next chapter to see the whole of that chapter is dedicated to it. Similarly if you dipped straight into that following chapter you may be ignorant there are alternatives in the previous chapter.

    An extra page at the start of the Index to index the chapters would be a boon especially in books like Avrukh 1.d4 where there are so many chapters and alternative moves at a particular move number and often there are transpositions in move orders- in fact the Contents page is often more useful than the index in that respect and to avoid the constant flicking from front to back, it would make a good template for that extra page in the index

  4. I used the opportunity to count my QC books. Since my collection is spread over several rooms at the moment I might have missed a few.
    9 HC vs. 22 SC. Only 2 of the HCs were for full price.
    I’m very price sensitive. If the difference in street price is 5 EUR I’m buying HC. The difference where I’m living is often in the 8 – 12 EUR range. In that case I’m buying SC.

    BTW., I’m still waiting for my free copy of the upcoming Razuvaev book. After almost a year I’m starting to get disappointed. F*cking get on with it, QC!

  5. I have almost all QC books, and only buy hardcovers if available. In the past I bought some softcovers in the GM Rep series, but later I regretted that and now I’m replacing them with hardcovers. Call me crazy 🙂

  6. I have most of your books paperbacks.

    I have a question: Some reviewers on amazon criticised you because in “Questions of modern chess theory” there is missing the part of the Ragozin.

    Will there ever be a new edition with the missing part?

  7. 100 – 200 paperbacks
    less than 10 hardcovers

    The hardcover ones were probably purchased “shopworn” from the USCF website or elsewhere at a deep discount. It’s sad, but most of my books were purchased because they were on sale and I haven’t had an opportunity to even look at many of them yet. Hopefully, one day I will have some time.

  8. 10 hardback, 4 paperback. i first bought Negi’s 1st book as paperback, but it was seperated so fast. This was the only moment QC is upsetting me. i have Magic of youth and My system, but they are fine. May be the page number was related with this problem.

    Then i decide to go for hardback for Reportoire books. I ll keep getting hardcover books.

  9. I prefer opening books in softcover as I sometimes take them with me to tournaments. Other books in HC mostly.
    In total more HC than SC, but that’s biased because of Yussupows 9 books series.

  10. 18 Hardback
    GM Rep 7 (Caro Kann), GM Rep 8 (Grunfeld 1), GM Rep 9 (Grunfeld 2), GM Rep 10 (Tarrasch), GM Rep 12 (Modern Benoni), GM Rep 13 (Open Spanish), GM Rep 14 (French 1), GM Rep 15 (French 2), GM Rep 16 (French 3) , GM Rep 17 (Classical Slav), GM Rep 20 (Semi-Slav), Dragon 1 & 2, Playing the French, Negi 1 & 2, Kotronias KID 1, Cutting Edge Najdorf 2.

    15 Paperback
    GM Rep 3 (English 1), GM Rep 4 (English 2), GM Rep 5 (English 3), GM Rep 6 (Sicilian), GM Rep 11 (1.d4 Sidelines), Alterman White Gambits, Alterman Black Gambit 2, Playing 1.d4 (Queen’s Gambit), Playing 1.d4 (Indian Defences), Attacking the Spanish, Experts on the Anti-Sicilian, Beat the KID, 3 Orange Yusupov books.

    Forward Chess 18
    GM Rep 10 (Tarrasch),GM Rep 14 (French 1), GM Rep 15 (French 2), GM Rep 16 (French 3) , GM Rep 17 (Classical Slav), GM Rep 20 (Semi-Slav), Dragon 1 & 2, Playing the French, Negi 1 2 & 3, Kotronias KID 1, 2, 3 & 4, Chess Structures GM Guide, Chess Tactics from Scratch

    You could say I’m a loyal customer!

  11. Just to add you may think I’m obsessed with openings, but I also have many endgame books too as well as the Kasparov My Great Predecessors and many, many more, I am a bit OCD and love collecting books! However my wife says I need to stop as we are running out of room.

  12. Well over 25, majority paperback, but now I usually go for hardback. I also had the problem with pages falling out of the GM Rep English books, but not others.

  13. Mostly paperback. All of my Negi series so far is in hardcover, and I intend to get the rest in hardcover. I also have the Yusupov series so far in hardcover.

    I normally buy chess books paperback, because, like computer books, they seem to date quickly. I got the Negi series in hardcover because I’m a 1. e4 bigot, and have been wanting a good series on a white 1. e4 rep (that isn’t 14 books long!) for a long time, so I figured why not go for the gusto. And the Yusupov books probably won’t date too badly. I could see myself buying endgame books in hardcover, as tablebases make endgames more of an exact science.

    So for the most part, timely books in paperback, timeless books in hardcover.

  14. @Phil Collins
    This was included in the New in Chess book on the Ragozin, as far as I know. It did not make sense to include it in “our” version, which is a translation of a Russian update of the book, which happened in a strange way (long story; essentially I sort of started it, after Dvoretsky sort of suggested it 15 years ago). They choose to do it in two books and I think it was a sane choice, as the stuff on the Ragozin was really outdated.

  15. I voted, and only then wisely decided to count – I humorously own 64 (!) QC books, with 46 of them hardcover. 12 FC as well, some duplicates.

  16. Overall it’s about 50%:50%, only quality chess books it’s two paperbacks and only one hardcover. But i will buy John’s two 1.e4 books next month or so, then i have more hardcover then paperback books from quality.

    Also a great bunch of hardcovers at my home is from the “build up your chess”-series. But in german language, published by Jussupow himself.

  17. Paperbacks mainly, however, I’ve been buying books via ForwardChess more frequently in the last year. I find it more convenient due to getting it immediately and not needing to store it. The only downside is I can’t resell the book on a place such as Amazon after I’ve read it. I hope in the future they may include an option to “rent” a book instead of buy it outright.

  18. Interestingly I was looking at webste to get s hint of what Roiz may recommend in the forthcoming GM Rep Nimzo-Indian book. Interesting as I found he hardly ever plays the Nimzo. I went from the latest game back to 2011 and couldn’t find any games this guy has actually played in it!

    Obviously this doesn’t mean he hasn’t played other games that mayn’t be on this website it also doesn’t mean he Konrad nothing about the opening, just an interesting point. I would have thought GM rep should be written by s player who has lots of experience in said opening.

  19. 45 hardcovers:
    Consisting of GM Rep series and Yusupov mainly.

    33 softcovers:
    Classics and opening mainly.

    Makes 78 if i counted correctly.

  20. Around 70 QC-books, slightly more hardback , but nearly all the latest 20 books in hardback, looks and feels besser.
    @doctor seems we have the same problems with our wife and same profession ?

  21. @The Doctor
    Roiz main job is as a second to top players. His effort in analysing this opening and the work he has put into it far exceeds what I find sane, to be honest. He has been more than thorough. More so than any other writer we have ever worked with.

    But yes, he has not played that many games with this opening. But he knows it well through his analytical work.

  22. By default I buy softcover. Especially for opening books, who will go out of date at some point, this makes sense to me. I only buy hardcover when I expect the book to be an absolute classic or a personal favorite for years and years. So far I have only 4 hardcover from QC: The two Karpov books, GM Prep: Calculation and the first Gelfand book. Though in retrospect Attacking Manual 1+2 and Grandmaster versus Amateur are also fantastic books that I “should” have gotten in hardcover.

  23. 10 Softcover
    3 Hardcover

    My favorite are the Hardcover. The only reason I haven’t bought all hardcovers are because of giftcards. I’ll get some amazon or barnes giftcards for holidays and they don’t have all your books available in hardcover. Sad chessplayer. For example, I have the two Karpov books in softcovers and everytime I read them, I wish I could trade them in for hardcovers. I would add a recommended change your softcovers. A recent purchase I made from Everyman, their new softcovers are an improvement over their old covers and your softcovers.


  24. @Jacob Aagaard
    Not to be unfair or hypercritical of Roiz, I just have a deep and irrational bias against players writing about openings that don’t have a deeply personal investment in the opening as after having the many tale tale battle scars, wins, losses and the resultant deep positional and intuitive understanding of the arising positions in their opening repertoire. Otherwise, with all due respect, one can just goe through a database, pick about 100 games to go through and run the best engines like Komodo 9.2, Stockfish 7, Fritz 15, etc. and take notes. I just don’t see much difference frankly but to each their own.

  25. 27 QC books, 17 HC and 10 paper back. I wish all of them were paper back. The books are great, the only complaint is that the paper back books fall apart after a while. If the pages could be stitched in it would solve this problem. I have 4 books in paper back, Calculation Strategic Play, Positional Play and Attack and Defense that I have spent hundreds of hours with and have barely scratched the surface. They are also starting to come apart. By the time I bought the Endgame book, I was buying everything in hardback. Great books, keep up the great work.

  26. @Steve S.
    If you do not see the difference between an occasional top 100 GM, who has been a second in a World Championship match working flat out for months and looking through some games with an engine, I think I cannot help you see it.

  27. @Jacob Aagaard
    Come on Jacob, I was clearly contrasting Roiz with seasoned GM’s who are considered master theoreticians at least in a practical sense of battled tested openings. I would think this was crystal clear. However I have found many, many examples of terrible analysis on moves from players like Shirov to Van Wely only using Houdini 4 Pro and Stockfish. Also Bologan has made some strange recommendations, all these in chessbase DVDs. At any rate I still appreciate their honest opinions of lines but it is hard to know if some of these “poorer” moves or missed analysis is accidental or an attempt to “hide the goods”. Perhaps one advantage of having a player who is not known to play a certain opening is that he has nothing to hide! Maybe he can unfold the secrets of the opening with novelties or uniquely analyzed positions since he has no personal interest in hiding some top secret novelties as might Radjabov or someone else. We shall see, Cheers.

  28. @Steve S.
    You may be DEAD wrong with your statements (opinion). Other reasons than Jacob’s are:
    – he could play hundreds of games against real human players and/or engines
    – he could ask a lot of experts what they think about some positions, variations, sacrifices, etc.
    – he could compare and analyze a lot of games and draw conclusions
    – he could read and analyze all the databases and books related to the specific variations
    – he could have some analysis or important (valuable) materials

    Unless we see his work – it will be hard to judge how well he can write an opening book. Of course it would be perfect if he could play it his whole life and have been the World Champion. Then we could be sure he is quite good at it 😉 :). Just kidding 😀

    @Jacob – any news related to the book “Thinking outside the box”? Maybe some guesses? June or August? 😉 🙂

  29. 11 paperback.
    11 forward chess.

    I wish I could trade my 11 paperback for forward chess copies. That app is the awesome.

    I would buy all the Aagaard improvement books immediately if they were made available on Forward Chess. I don’t buy many physical books at all anymore. Would love to see more of the “Improvement” back catalog available on FC. Presumably these books do not age like opening books (although the best opening books are also surprisingly enduring).

  30. @Tomasz Chessthinker
    You may laugh, assuming you aren’t a shill for Roiz, but my statements and opinions are totally valid. Let me give you an example: Would you, if given the choice, take a book on the Scandinavian written by Magnus and based on a lifetime of personal approach in this opening OR a more deeply analyzed book by an aging GM who had virtually no games in this opening in the databases? Before you rattle off an answer, please keep in mind it is rhetorical. It is a matter of personal taste and preference but I maintain a positive attitude and await the final product with an open mind. I didn’t think Jacob needed you to come to the rescue nor Roiz. Just kidding.

  31. NOT a very good player

    Off topic I know, but I felt compelled to just say what a fantastic rep book Nikalaos has written.Probably the best rep book I have ever seen.Cohesive,understandable,logical and solid.I really like the inclusion of full games in the book. Just wondering if John’s new rep books will be pitched at the same level or more like the GM reps.

    On topic-I bought this book in hardback. I own 8 hardbacks and 8 paperbacks.

  32. 20 hardcover
    5 paperback

    Think I got them all. Not like I have my books sorted by publisher or anything.

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