Paperback, hardback or Trade paperback?
Eh. The binding doesn't matter much to me. I'm usually more concerned with finding the best translation, the cheapest copy, the copy with text that isn't painfully tiny or obnoxiously huge, or the copy with cover art I can stand to look at (or, you know, all of the above). If those factors are all removed... eh. I like the way hardcovers look on the shelf, but I prefer to read paperbacks, because the binding isn't so stiff. It's a toss-up, really.
Amazon or brick and mortar?
Brick and mortar, preferably. Again, I'm usually concerned with things like the translation quality (you can sometimes read the first few pages of a book on Amazon, but it's a pain to compare translations on a computer screen), font and text size (am I going to end up not reading this book just because the printing is bad?) and cover art (am I going to end up not reading this book just because it's hideous and I'm embarrassed to be seen with it?). I like to get a good look at a book before I buy it.
Barnes & Noble or Borders?
I've never lived near a Barnes & Noble, and there have always been Borders stores nearby, so by default, I always go to Borders. But I really don't care, as long as their selection is good; and selection varies from store to store anyway.
Bookmark or dog-ear?
Depends on the condition the book was in when I bought it. If I bought it used and it already has marks or bends, I'll dog-ear it. In fact, I'll probably dog-ear the hell out of it, wherever a favorite line or scene turns up. But if, on the other hand, I bought the book new, and it still has crisp white unmarked pages, I'll leave them that way, and use a bookmark. Well, not really a bookmark, as all my bookmarks are currently occupied holding places in books I'm totally going to finish someday... lately I've been using Post-It Notes or grocery store receipts as placeholders...
Favourite place to read?
Anyplace quiet, really. Preferably indoors, because otherwise mosquitoes or gnats will molest me. If I had to choose a specific place, I guess it'd be my room.
Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
Heh. My books are arranged first by genre, then alphabetically by author, and then chronologically by publication date, where possible. (The "genre" thing is a rather subjective... reference books are on the bottom shelf, because they're heavy; plays are on the top shelf, because they're light; general fiction/poetry are nearest to my desk; then fantasy/sci-fi; then language study; then textbooks; then books that somewhat embarrass me; and then books I don't like or don't foresee liking, which are on another bookcase altogether.) Of course, the books I reference the most are usually just piled up on the floor around my desk...
Keep, throw away, or sell?
Keep. As Oscar Wilde said, "If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all." I almost never buy a book without first having a very good reason to believe I'm going to want to lug the bastard around with me for the rest of my life. Of course, some books turn out to be awful, and I drop them off at thrift stores without ever finishing them. But if I finish them at all, chances are, they stay. Even books I don't like, if I take the trouble to read them through, are generally of a sort worth retaining, if for no other reason than to have access to them when I need to defend my dislike of them against other people, or remind myself how not to imitate them.
Keep dust jacket or toss it?
If I don't like the dust jacket, I toss it. If I like the dust jacket, I usually keep it in a box (with all the other dust jackets I like), where it eventually gets crushed somehow. But I still continue keeping it.
Read with dust jacket or remove it?
Remove. Dust jackets are irritating. And also likely to get mangled.
Short story or novel?
Novel. I've read very few short stories that have left any lasting impact on me. They can pack a punch, but they just can't support the weight of characters or events that a novel can. Collections of interrelated short stories, such as Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, are a different matter -- although even then, I still think Doyle's novels were better. There's just more substance to them.
Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
*blushes* I have no idea what Lemony Snicket is, actually. It sounds like something Dumbledore would use as a password...
Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
Generally speaking, I prefer to stop at chapter breaks. In some books, where the chapters are twenty or thirty pages long, that just isn't practicable, so I stop whenever there seems to be a pause in the action or a scene break. And if I'm reading between classes, then I close the book when the next class starts, regardless of where I am in the chapter. (This, of course, means that some books shouldn't be read during school. Stopping and then picking up later mid-paragraph isn't so bad if you're reading Stephen King, but very jarring if you're reading, say, James Joyce.)
"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"?
"It was a dark and stormy night." The darker and stormier the better. ;)
Buy or borrow?
Buy. During high school, when I had no money at all, the library was my only source of books, and I did a lot of borrowing. But even then, I was almost as picky about books as I was about friends, and I didn't bring anything home with me that I wasn't pretty damn sure of loving to death. I always hated returning books. I've now purchased most of the books I read during high school, and these days I never borrow anything unless it's way too expensive or rare for me to get my hands on otherwise.
New or used?
Used, I suppose. I don't have a strong preference, but in most cases used books are a bit more comfortable to read.
Buying choice: book reviews, recommendations, or browse?
Recommendations. However, apart from a large number from greekhoop, the recs I follow usually aren't made directly to me. When I was in high school, I was on a Dostoevsky yahoo-group where members discussed their favorite novels and authors all the time, and I got a lot of great recs from there. I also tend to read authors that other writers/poets/etc. reference -- I got into G. K. Chesterton through Neil Gaiman, and Camus through The Cure, and Nietzsche through The Smashing Pumpkins (which, in retrospect, is highly ironic). I think I read William Burroughs because of David Bowie...
Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Whatever suits the story, obviously. Something in between is usually better than either extreme, but The Lord of the Rings needed a tidy ending, and The Grapes of Wrath couldn't have possibly carried one off. Tidy endings are often more satisfying, but sometimes that isn't the point. I don't think I have a preference, as long as the ending works with the story and doesn't look tacked-on (or chopped-off).
Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?
Doesn't matter. Whatever time is available. Usually afternoon, simply because I prefer to save my night-hours for writing, and my morning hours for... sleeping. But in the event of writer's block or the inaccessibility of my computer, I'll happily read at night too; and in the event of being awake but not at work, I'll also happily read in the morning.
Stand-alone or series?
Stand-alone. It seems to me that many series become series not because it's actually necessary or useful to the story- or character-arc, but simply because it's profitable: each successive book comes with a built-in audience. There are exceptions, of course, like Lord of the Rings, which are series because they must be; and I respect that. But most of the time, I think series share a flaw that's just the opposite of the flaw short stories share: a short story doesn't have space to carry sufficient substance, and a series has so much space that all the substance gets spread out and diluted. After a while everything gets redundant, the characters become caricatures of themselves, the authors fall in love with their worlds and the later books become like fanfics based on the earlier books, and authorial integrity just falls apart. A stand-alone novel, on the other hand, is compact and unsentimental, without a lot of fluff and filler. The author has the sense to know when to cut the thread. I'm sure it isn't easy to do, and I respect and appreciate it.
Lord of the Rings. In second place, I think The Chronicles of Amber still ranks just slightly above... er, Sherlock Holmes, Sandman, Discworld, and the Harry Potter series, not necessarily in that order. >_>
Favorite children's book?
The Devil's Storybook. I'm still so totally in love with that thing. *points to icon*
Favorite YA book?
Is The Giver a YA book, or is that a children's book? I don't know that I've ever read anything that could be properly classified as "YA."
Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Hm. I don't meet many people who have heard of Dickens' Our mutual Friend, unless they've heard about it from me...
Favorite books read last year?
The First Circle - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
The Sign of the Four - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle (a re-read)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
Favorite books of all time?
Top fifteen, not really in order.
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame - Victor Hugo
Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Notes from Underground - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Beyond Good and Evil - Friedrich Nietzsche
Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Friedrich Nietzsche
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The First Circle - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Jacques the Fatalist - Denis Diderot
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
Faust - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
...Also Ecclesiastes. By, er, Solomon? (I know, I know. But dude.)
Least favorite book you finished last year?
Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. Which is also one of my least favorite books I've finished ever, period.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Stephen King's The Gunslinger, which I'd read before, back when I was thirteen or fourteen. It was... eh. I like the universe all right, and I really like the gunslinger himself, but the revelationary spouting of fantastical pseudo-physics in between scenes of random and gratuitous gore was just so... well, so typical. Damn you, King, why do I keep reading your books when I know you disappoint me in the end every single time?
What are you reading next?
Hell if I know. I wasn't planning on rereading The Gunslinger. I just picked it up off my bookshelf for some reason a couple of days ago, and didn't put it back. Somehow King can still do that to me.
I've got The Red and the Black sitting by my bed. And I keep meaning to finally read Moby Dick. Or go back to one of those other novels that are eating up my bookmark collection...
Favorite book to recommend to an eleven-year-old?
My favorite book at eleven was The Giver, so I'd probably go with either that or Harry Potter. For more advanced eleven-year-olds, maybe The Chronicles of Amber or some Sherlock Holmes.
Favorite book to reread?
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. And The Picture of Dorian Gray. I've read them both several times.
Do you ever smell books?
*shrug* If they smell good, sure.
Do you ever read Primary source documents?