Students can be cruel to paperbacks. In a very short time, paperback covers get torn, the glued bindings bend or break, and pages fall out.
In the effort to protect books from mistreatment, many English departments turned to purchasing the Everbind copy of a particular title, a book bound in a hardshell cover so tight that opening the book to read along the inside margins requires a vise-like grip; a combination of glue and canvas so durable that only time can damage what dedicated book manglers cannot.
As the years go by, in many English Department libraries there are multiple copies of books purchased long ago. Several of these titles have lost favor with young readers and their teachers: And Now, Miguel; Across Five Aprils; Amos Fortune, Free Man. These combat-ready copies may sit on a shelf, year after year, unread or forgotten.
So, what happens then to the aging Everbind copy of a book?
Unfortunately, few students will read the softly yellowing pages, and the musty smell of ripened maturity causes students to wrinkle their noses and move on to another selection. A look at the Everbind inside covers may reveal a long lists of student who scarred their names marking their possession for an assigned period of time. These fading book cover exteriors cannot compete against the glossy covers of newer but fragile paperbacks.
While students collectively failed to destroy the Everbind, time does catch up with these older books, and they must be moved out to make room for newer titles.
Tightly bound, its pages preserved against student damage, the Everbind book outlives generations of readers perhaps a little too well.