Hardback, paperback, trade binding, library binding, sewn, stitched, stapled, glued, shish kabobed. There are so many different options for buying books it starts to feel like a Dr. Seuss narration.
Does it matter? Between a hardback book and a library bound book, is there really enough of a difference to justify the cost? Why did my publisher rep grimace when I told her I bought books for my library on Amazon?
These aren't exactly questions that are answered in library school, and when it comes from a publisher representative, it sounds like a gimmick. Even so, I hope you'll hear me out (because even I had to look it all up when I got into this). Library binding DOES matter, and the fact that all of our publishers' books are library bound IS important. And I'm going to give you more than enough information to explain why, but here's the gist:
Basically, for libraries, book binding comes down to two main groups: trade binding and library binding.
Trade binding is made of whatever gets the books into customer hands fastest. Paperback or hardback, the materials and glue are going to be whatever quality is available at the moment. This means that they are designed to be sold, not kept. They don't hold up against time, hundreds of patrons, or children.