Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buy My Hardcover, or I'll . . . .

My daughter told me tonight that author James Patterson is running a TV commercial in which he threatens to kill his protagonist if people don't buy his new book. I think Stephen King already did that once in The Dark Half and it didn't work out so well for the guy (wait, no, twice, he did it in Misery, too.)

Maybe it's a joke, but getting all Abraham with your readership is like telling your editor what you really think of him. Just don't go there. Ever.

I know the steady decline in hardcover sales is costing the big names lots of bucks (according to Publishers Weekly, adult hardcover sales were down 13% in 2008 as a result of a 5.3% drop in gross sales plus 10.8% increase in returns, and while I don't have any reliable figures for 2009, friends tell me it's been a bad year for the hardbound.)

I buy mostly paperbacks, but I'll admit, I didn't buy as many hardcover novels in 2009 as I have in years past. 99.9% of what I did buy were for blog giveaways or were copies I passed along to friends with tight book budgets. It's always been tough for me to pay $27.00 for a hardcover when I can get three paperbacks for $24.00, and I only do it for a couple authors like Mary Balogh and Linda Howard. I'm also now having trouble holding heavy hardcovers for long periods of time, and most of the big fat ones like Stephen King's latest I read from a bookstand or from the tabletop, which sometimes gives me a neck crick. Since I can't use an e-reader, paperbacks really are the most comfortable reads for me.

I think most readers are being pretty cautious when it comes to buying hardcovers, too, as I'm not seeing the booksellers moving much of their big name stock. I saw one novel by a critically-acclaimed author marked "Clearance -- 50% off" at BAM last week, which was a huge shock. Why? This particular author was advanced millions, had a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign, plus the book was just released this fall. I'd heard that it tanked, and badly, but to hold a firesale before it's even had three full months on the shelf? That is troubling.

To be published in hardcover is nice -- I've had about ten books debut that way -- but these days they're just not selling (and with the economy the way it is, I doubt that's going to change.) I'm sure the big names have enough in the bank to weather the storm, but until prestige pays the bills the working writer has a better chance of earning out and even making a profit in paperback -- and even more so in electronic format. If I were ever given a choice (most authors don't choose how their books are printed, btw; publishers decide that) I'd pick paperback every time.

Another downside to hardcovers is the short shelf life. I've notice a lot of paperback reprints of hardcover titles being released within six months of the hardcover (it used to be a year or more) which pretty much kills the sales of hardcover editions. With less time on the shelves, it's likely that a larger percentage of hardcovers are being remaindered sooner than they should be (which may also explain why the returns in 2008 were so high.)

That day at BAM I almost bought a sympathy copy of the millionaire author's 50%-off title. I know, it's weird, but in the past I have bought books because I felt sorry for their one-hit wonder authors. But evidently the economy and the plight of too many midlist authors has changed my attitude. As I picked up the book, I thought of two paperbacks I wanted that I could buy for the same price as the one hardcover. In the end I went for paperbacks instead, and honestly? I didn't feel guilty at all. I felt I was being supportive of two authors who interested me and who I know don't have millions in the bank.

As for James Patterson, I never followed any of his series books so it doesn't make any difference to me if he kills this character or not. I bet his fans feel differently, though.

I'm curious -- what, if any, hardcovers are you guys buying these days? Do you have any criteria as to what you will buy in hardcover? Do you find you're more inclined to wait for the paperback, or buy books that are first released in paperback versus hardcover? And last but not least, would an author threatening to kill off a character compel you to buy their book? Let us know what you think in comments.


  1. Hardcovers? Very, very rarely. I can't justify the spending.
    It'd have to be an old classic I planned to keep forever. Or something I dearly loved, or written by a very good friend.

    ...would an author threatening to kill off a character compel you to buy their book?

    Kill them.
    Kill them all. >D

  2. I am exceptionally picky about what I buy in hardcover usually because they are so expensive. That means I'll typically only buy the hard cover if:

    a) it's a classic piece of literature that I intend to keep in my library
    b) I've read the book in another format and also wish to keep the book in my library
    c) I'm invested in a series and can't wait for the paper back, but want to "keep" the book.

    This contrasts to what I'll buy in digital form:

    a) something I'm tasting
    b) a book I really only intend on reading once.

    For me, eBooks are doing a pretty bangup job of replacing the massmarket paperback while simultaneously allowing me to make my library a collection of hardcopies that sum up the highlights of my reading history.

    Funny how the two can coexist like that.

  3. Anonymous1:12 AM

    I've never bought hardcovers, except once or twice from second-hand stores or garage sales. I read quickly - I can get through the average novel in less than 3 hours - so spending $30 on a book has never made any sense to me.

    in the past year I've almost entirely stopped buying paperback novels in favour of purchasing ebooks and I don't expect that to change any time, oh, ever.

  4. I've been writing full time since 1985 and most of the hard covers I buy are nonfiction. Honesty, I think that sales in hardcover or PB are more in tune with the author's desires and intents than anything else. From the beginning, King and Patterson had strong intentions, powerful desires. That made the difference. At this point, who cares if they kill off heir good guys?

  5. I've never been prone to buying hardcover, they've always been too expensive for my budget, and these days, it rarely even covers new paperbacks, though I do splurge on the kids occasionally book-wise and get something just-out for them.

    I actually went to the local bookstore a month or two back with the very strong impulse to purchase a hardcover - it was the next book in a series, and I'd been waiting for it quite a long time. One look at the $30 price, and no hesitation - it went back on the shelf and I waited patiently for my turn at the library's copy. I'd have felt entirely too guilty spending the equivalent of half a day's take home pay on a book.

    People don't read anymore? No wonder. They can't afford to. When for that price, they can have a few hours entertainment by book, or a month's unlimited by TV, it's obvious which one they'll choose. It takes a devoted reader to find a way despite the finances these days, where it used to be, a book was cheap entertainment.

  6. It really depends on the hardcover; I'm waiting for paperback more often these days, or getting the ebook if I can get it for less than hardcover. Some hardcovers at Sam's Club are so discounted that it's too good a deal to pass up. If it's a Must Have author (Patricia Briggs springs to mind) I just pay up and know it's going to be worth it. But a threat to kill the character, that just strikes me as desperate. It wouldn't influence my buying decision.

  7. I will buy the hardcover if I am addicted to the author. I justify it with a Border's coupon and the feeling that I am supporting the author's writing. Authors that I buy in hardcover are Lindsey Davis, Patricia Briggs, C.S. Harris, and Barbara Hambly (whom I may have to buy from the U.K.).

  8. I do enjoy Patterson's books I must say but being a student makes me even poorer than the average Joe and actually he's releasing the Cross books at such a rate it's hard to keep up even if you *wanted* a hardback. There's a new one every six months or less.

    The stores in Britain regularly have half off on books, even just new ones, presumably to get the hardbacks off the shelves. Kind of standard. I must admit I don't buy many hardbacks because the authors I read most I have most of their books in paperback and so it would make my shelf all wonky if there were hardbacks in there... I don't have OCD I promise!

    But I just thought I'd let you know about the half off. And also, there are twenty or thirty Alex Cross novels these days so... frankly, though he's a good character, he's had his run. And if Patterson were any kind of author he wouldn't have the heart to just kill him off surely?

  9. I read lying down in bed before going to sleep each night. For me it is relaxing, a way to unwind from the day. Therefore, hardcovers are not conducive.

    Furthermore, I think it is pretty presumptuous of an author to ask readers to shell out two or three times the price of a paperback just to save a fictional character's life. (That sounds really weird when I read it back.) I am the kind of human who, though sympathetic to many plights, will most likely NOT buy the hardcover after such a request.

    I would love to publish in paperback form only - sell-out in massive amounts to more people and be read around the globe!

    Great post. Thanks for the information and sparking my brain at such an early hour.


  10. Looking at my shelves, the only hard covers I seem to buy are non fiction. Cookbooks, art books, and how-to books.

  11. There aren't many authors I have to have in hardback-and honestly, I prefer to wait, just for reasons of space. I will buy you in hardback, I buy some of JD Robb's in hb but since I'm always a few months behind on those, usually I can wait for the pb. Every once in a while, Linda Howard or Mercedes Lackey. That's about it.

  12. I used to only buy hardcovers. My library is filled with 100's of hardcovers and a few scattered paperbacks, now I only buy ebooks. I just don't have room to store anymore dead-tree books and it's so much easier to carry one ebook around with 300 books in it than a heavy hardcover that takes an extra hand to hold. The drawbacks are that I can't find everything I want to read in an ebook format so I am missing out on some of my favorite authors works, and I don't like the DRM. I think digital rights could be handled much better than they are.

  13. IF I come across a hardcover of an absolute favorite must have author then I buy it. But most of my hardcovers are out of print romances that I picked up at the UBS or other places. I am grateful to have them-I love these authors with a passion, but I never would have paid the money for those books hot off the presses. I bought about three hardbacks this year and the only one that was fiction was Linda Howard's-all others were homeschool books.

  14. Buy a book because the author threatens to kill off the character?
    Definitely not.
    Sounds so desperately manipulative.

  15. I recently passed up on buying the sixth book in a series i love because they've debuted it in hardback. Even though i had gift vouchers that was half the money i had been given and i could get two books for the price of that one. (and as it turned out they were both two-in-one books anyway so i got four for the price of that one hardback)
    It's a shame because i really like this series but this is the first hardback they've released and i just can't afford to spend that much on one book.

  16. I only buy hardcovers of authors whose books I collect. I haven't bought a hardcover in a long while though, as I'm currently 3 years behind on my reading list due to law school - and the last one I did buy, I regretted because it wasn't very good. So for me, the question isn't "Should I buy this because it is the new book by author x" but rather, "If I buy this in hardcover, will I actually read it before it comes out in paperback?" And chances are, the answer is no and it will languish on my "TBR" shelves for months or even a year or more.

    Secondly, as you noted, hardcover are expensive. I can barely afford a paperback novel at this time so I'm not going to spend the $20-35 a hardback will cost.

    Lastly, I live in NYC. I don't have a lot of room for hardcovers. My shelves are stuffed with books. Given a choice between a hardcover and a paperback, I'm going to choose the paperback because I can fit two-four paperbacks in the space a Hardcover would take.

  17. I saw that commercial and it made me very angry. "He" writes 610 books a year and to expect people to buy them all in hardcover is ridiculous and annoying, especially since the books he doesn't actually write (aka almost all of them) aren't very good.

    I will buy hardcovers of books by my favorite authors because they are books I will most likely reread and lend to other people. I would say I buy 6-10 hardcovers a year, and I probably buy at least double that a year total.

    I do think most people would buy in trade paperback, but then what do you do for libraries? They want hardcovers because they last longer. It is a tough call. Most books sell more and make more money as a trade paperback because it gives them enough time to get hype and word of mouth. I think there needs to be some change in the industry. I know many YA books are released in paperback because their audience does not have a lot of maybe it is just figuring out what is best for each individual book...

  18. I end up buying a lot of hardbacks at my Half Price Bookstore. I do like HB's, but I never pay full price. When I do buy them, it's for a gift.

    Enjoyed this post!

  19. don't you think writing about future is a good idea ?
    It generates curiosity and increase knowledge
    predictions something like that

  20. I never buy hardbacks. Well, I did make three exceptions in the last few years- one for Blood Noir by Laurel K Hamilton (Huuuuuuuuge mistake!), Lover Avenged by J R Ward (small mistake) and one for Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs. (GREAT idea!)

    Until finances get way better I'm waiting until paperback or getting it from the library. As a matter of fact, I have a very small personal library for being such an avid reader. I go to the book store and write down lots of titles then request off of the county library website. An author has to be really good or I have to be desperate for something to read right that minute to justify spending the money. On my shelves I have almost all Marjorie M. Liu, many of Lynn's, lots of J R Ward and ever Mercy Thompson novel. There are some others but these guys get instant consideration at the bookstore.

    As far as an author killing characters for money - well I would like to think that my favorite authors are classier than that. If they aren't then I would be disappointed and put them on the permanent library list. : )

  21. Adam wrote: don't you think writing about future is a good idea ?
    It generates curiosity and increase knowledge
    predictions something like that

    I'm a bit perplexed by your question, Adam, as I'm not sure what you're questioning in my post. If it's directed at me personally or just a random question, I'm a science fiction writer, so I already write about the future. So far, thirteen print novels and counting. :)

  22. I rarely buy hardcovers. It has to be a book that I absolutely CANNOT wait for. I'm not a person who feels they have to have the hardcover because they look prettier, or anything. To me, a book is a book. It's going to be read and if I can wait for it to come out in paperback, then I'm going to wait for it. Hardcovers are nice, but they're bulky, awkward, and take up way too much room on my already crowded bookshelf :)

    I'm with Raine though, kill 'em all!

  23. Very rarely do I buy hardcover books and, in those rare instances, they're usually from garage sales, library sales, or discount piles.

    I like paperbacks. I like the size, the fact that I don't have to wrestle with a dust jacket, and that I'm not afraid to take them into the tub with me because I can hold them up without any assistance. Taking a bath with a hardcover requires a bathtub trap of some sort, which I find really annoying.

    But even if you take the tub out of the equation, I find the hardcovers and larger trade paperbacks to be awkward and unwieldy. They often feel top heavy, which makes reading them in comfort an adventure because I'm always looking for something to prop them up!

    So, in short, I'm all about the mass market paperbacks!

  24. Most of the hardcovers I bought in '09 were used. The only exceptions were an MG series I'm entralled with - Fablehaven. For those, I'm willing to shell out the extra to get what I want when I want it. (And I need those as soon as I can get them.) Otherwise, most of the authors I love come out in paperback.

    As for Mr. Patterson, every time I see a commercial for 'I, Alex Cross' I just shake my head. The title alone seems like he's ripping off either Spillane or Asimov. Having only read one of his Cross series, I couldn't care less if he kills the guy off. But "Give me money or you'll never see Alex again" seems silly. Sorry, Patterson, but it is against my policy to give in to ransom demands.

  25. I'll buy non-fiction in hardback because I consider it a reference. I don't think I've bought fiction in hardback since the early 90s, though. Paperbacks are easier to read in bed. My parents prefer paperbacks, too, so I don't buy hardback novels to give as gifts.

    As for buying a book because an author threatened to kill off a character, kill them all, as far as I'm concerned. Manipulative gambits like that make me want to not only bypass the hardback, but not buy the book in any other format, either. We're long past the days of Little Dorrit and Sherlock Holmes, when a broad swath of the reading public cared that much about a character.

  26. I buy hardcover if it is part of a series I already have or I know the author. If it is a debut author, I go with paperback when available.

    I have every King novel so it's a given that I am going to purchase his in hardcover.

  27. When I buy books I just buy. I walk in the store browse and buy what catches my eye. Sometimes it's a hardcover sometimes it's a paperback. I don't even think of that when buying. I never look at the prices either. I really really really should but that would just take away from my lovely bookstore experience in my mind.

    As for buying a book to save a character it's silly. Any fan who cares if the character lives or dies is more than likely already buying the book so that tactic of selling books doesn't make much sense to me.

  28. Does this sound weird? I dislike reading hardcovers because they seem like TOO MUCH BOOK. They are somehow intimidating, as if I'm supposed to be educated by them, or they're supposed to be good for me. With a PB I can just relax and be entertained and truly enjoy my special time with my book, and of course I always learn things along the way but it happens without angst.

    Format matters. It matters a lot.

  29. Anonymous11:16 AM

    There are only three authors that I buy in hardback. I have a couple of yours. One reason is the expense, second storage space is a factor. The series that started out as paperback and then to hardback are out of luck. I can wait and I prefer to have the whole series on my keeper shelf in the same form. I'm sure that the reading public is being very careful of their money at this time. I enjoy being able to try a new author plus a couple of my favorites more than having one hardback. I also do not buy the oversize books for the same reasons.

  30. My squeaky tight budget won't allow for hardbacks anymore, but when it did, I only bought hardbacks from authors I'd read before, so I knew there was a very good chance I'd not regret the purchase. Now I budget for new paperbacks (either new releases or released from hardbacks) from writers I read, and save trying new writers to borrowing from the library or friends.

    And if an author thought so little of a protagonist as to threat to kill him off just to garner sales, I'd say, Kill kill!

  31. The only author I don't wait for the PB is Joshilyn Jackson. But most books I'm waiting for debut in a pb form anyway.

    If an author threatened to kill a character to boost sales, I would not only NOT by the book, I would stop reading the author altogether. That's a complete turn-off and stinks of desperation and lack of faith in the fanbase.

  32. Who can afford a hard cover nowadays? Even if is a book I really want and love the author I wait for it to come out as paperback ‘cause like you pointed out you can get three for the price of one hard cover. Now, if you only read on book a year, than that might be acceptable.

  33. I never buy fiction in hardcover, ever, for two reasons: price and size. I carry a paperback with me everywhere I go and I just can't lug around a hardcover. Plus, I can't justify spending three times as much for something that will take me two days to read.... I ave never been able to afford that.
    The only author that I will buy in hardcover is Bill Bryson, but I am honestly more likely to spend a fortune on the unabridged audio, since I find his voice such a charming part of the experience!

  34. I rarely to never buy hard covers. They're hard on my hands to hold for very long and I can't put three in my 'not a purse' bag to haul around with me everywhere. My husband doesn't like them anymore than I do. So while I understand that the author makes better money on the big books, they just don't work for how and where we read.


  35. Oh, and I thought Patterson was trying to be cute.... I think if he is serious about killing off Alex Cross, there is more behind it than hardcover sales!!

  36. I don't buy a tremendous amount of hardcovers because I don't have the shelf space for them. I'll buy YA hardcovers on occasion because the prices aren't too bad and I don't tend to keep them. Right now, there are only three adult fiction authors that I'm purchasing in hardback (Patricia Briggs, Charlaine Harris (Grave books), and Karen Marie Moning). I'd love to own hardback versions of the first five Cynster novels that Stephanie Laurens wrote, but I don't think they were ever released. I can't begin to guess how many times I've read those books.

    For everyone else, I wait until the paperback gets released.

  37. I think the publisher's marketing departments have things backwards. I buy hard covers after reading something in paperback, not before.

    Excluding books I bought for work, last year I bought two dozen hard covers, down from an average of about 4 dozen a year for the 5 years before last. Almost all the hard covers I bought were books that I either read in the library or in paperback previously.

    The three hard covers I bought that I had not read previously were books in a series that I liked, and I read the earlier books in paperback first, too.

  38. Like a lot of other people I buy very few hardcover books--the few I have are all reference books.

    As for Patterson saying he'll kill off his character if we don't buy the book, all I can say is, "Go for it." His "threat" isn't going to get me to buy that book or any other because I'm not a fan. I can't see how this marketing trick is going to work.

  39. I'm with Jennifer. I prefer PBs - to carry in my purse all the time to read for both the expected and unexpected waits for appointments, car servicing, etc.

    The only author I will buy in HB these days is C. S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series.

  40. There's very few authors my wife and I buy new in HC. Terry Pratchett and Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series are about it now (although I did buy the latest Monk book by Lee Goldberg, and Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes, the latter because I love MC, love pirates and Amazon had it for about nine bucks).

    I'm also buying the Fantagraphics reprints of Prince Valiant in HC, because I love the series, but they're only releasing about two books a year so that's not hard on the budget.

    Otherwise, I'm buying books for my latest writing project and that leaves little left (both in cash and time) for recreational reading. My wife borrows magazines from the library, and I'm still working down the stack of books we buy at library book sales (example: Stephen Fry's "The Hippopotamus" an amusing trifle of a novel, that I've had on the shelf for ages; plus, I'm going through the Frankenstein series by Dean Koontz, because my family whipped through them. Oh, and the "School Rumble" manga series that my daughter just brought home.

    Hmmm, no wonder I haven't been getting much done lately.

  41. Um. I guess I'm weird.

    I LOVE hardbacks. I buy them whenever I can justify it.

    Now, this actually does not mean I buy them that often, really. I buy hardbacks when I know I'll be re-reading the book, when I can't wait, or when the rest of my series is already hardback. But so many of my current reads are released only in paperback (or I'm coming late to the party and so the hardback is no longer available) that I've ended up buying mostly paperback for some time now.

    Then again, I'm also part of the SF book club, and they do (or did) mostly hardback editions.

  42. Oh - forgot to add... if an author threatens to kill off a character, I will roll my eyes and ignore the rest of the series. Possibly everything by that author. Because some of the advice I've been given with my own work is to serve the story, not the audience. And so killing a character because of the audience, and not because of the story, strikes me as blackmail.

  43. I buy hardcover only if it's a book that I intend to keep in my library. 95% of the books I read come from the local library. I grew up very poor and never got in the habit of buying books because I seldom reread anything.I also have a very small personal library for being such an avid reader. I also go to the book store and write down lots of titles then request them off of my library website. I can wait up to a year to read a popular title because I always have something to read. An author has to be really important to me (Neil Gaiman, Stephen King) for me to buy the hardcover and I never buy their entire works. Though right now I covet the Sandman deluxe hardcovers - somebody else would have to buy them for me at that price and even then, I would feel real guilty about the price.

    And "Give me money or you'll never see this character again" seems desperate. Sorry, writers, but it is against my policy to give in to ransom demands.

  44. I don't buy hardcovers. Not even the 'sale' shelf ones. I can get more with paperbacks and they are easier to store. (You can get three rows of paperbacks on one shelf. As opposed to one hardback) Space is a premium in my house.

    I have bought a few (less than 5) books in hardback. Two were because I'd read the paperback version so many times the books fell apart. The others were given as gifts to other people who liked HB.

    I have no opinion on the James Paterson thing...I don't read him and I can't decide about the marketing approach.

  45. I used to buy a LOT of hardcovers, but since i'm no longer working and am on disablity I've cut it way back (used to buy at least 6 to 10 authors now no more than 3 or 4). I wait for the paperbacks.

    As for who I buy in hardback - J D Robb, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden Series, Patricia Briggs, LKH (used to buy McCaffrey's Pern, Linda Howard, Jayne Ann Krentz, Catherine Coulter, and others).

    It has to be an author that I not only love now but also one that another famioly member reads, that way I know the book will survive both of us reading without being harmed (the other person isn't careful with her books).

    And last but not least, would an author threatening to kill off a character compel you to buy their book

    LOL, normally no, and Pattersons ad does nothing for me by the way.

  46. Hey Lynn,
    Love the blog and your books...and am so glad they are in paperback.

    I can't even tell you the last time I bought a hardcover book. I buy all paperback (some trade) and ebooks these days. If a book is released in hardcover and I can't wait to read it I get it from my library. I just refuse to pay $27-30 for a book that will later be released in paperback for $8. Even for my auto buy authors. I just can't justify the price.

  47. I don't know why publishers bother with hardcover. They're good for libraries and schools which need the durability, but otherwise I don't see how they're useful. I don't like to buy hardcovers. Unless I'm dying to read a book but can't get it in paperback or at the library, I won't buy hardback.

    Here are three main reasons I don't like hardback:
    1. They're too expensive. You can get the same book in paperback for a lot less money.
    2. They have those annoying dust jackets that always fall off and just get ripped up.
    3. They're too big. Paperbacks fit on my bookshelves better. They're all a standard size and they're smaller, so I can fit more on. And I'm seriously running out of storage room, so I need all the space saving I can get. Hardbacks just take up way too much valuable shelf space.

    As for an author threatening to kill off a character? It sounds like a gimmick and a cheap one at that. I'd feel like the author was trying to manipulate me, and that'd make me mad, so I'd probably boycott his book and choose not to buy it or read it. In fact, if the author made me mad enough (and killing off a main character I liked would certainly do that) I wouldn't read anything by that author ever again.

  48. I do buy some hardcovers on occasion, but only if I absolutely can't wait for the paperback release. That's pretty rare since I have such a long reading list; there's plenty of material to tide me over during the wait. So most of the hardcovers I buy end up being gifts.

    That said, threatening to kill off a protagonist, even of a series, to get me to buy the hardcover would not work. I commend authors who can kill off their characters when it fits the story, and any author who's going to do it just to make a point or teach readers a lesson, even though it works against the story, won't keep me as a reader for very long.

  49. For it to be worth it to me to purchase a hardcover, all the books in a series must come in hardcover form. Take Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series: they initially came in PB, so when things like Devil May Cry, Acheron, and Blue Moon Rising came out in HC, I just wouldn't buy them. Why? Because I've got OCD and I don't like different formats used in the same series.

    If the DH series was all available in HC, I'd have it all in HC because I love the series so much.

    So the second criterion is that I have already read the book (whether it was a library checkout or a book loan from my work or a friend) and love it. Twilight and The Host are good examples of this criterion: I checked out Twilight from the library and knew that I'd like the rest of the series enough to get the whole series in HC. Same goes for Harry Potter.

    Is that strange? Or should I say stranger than normal? :)

  50. Most of my hardback books come as a gift (I always get the latest Stephen King or Dean Koontz from my children in hardback). I've bought one hardback at full price this year because it was an author I wanted to read, but otherwise, if it's not on sale, I buy the paperback books. I like carrying a book in my purse.

    And if I am reading a hardback book at home, I'll still carry a paperback in my purse to read when I'm out.

  51. Never thought there would be a pattern, but now that you asked, I find there is: I crisscross.

    By the time I get to something on my TBR list that was only just released, it’s already out in paperback. So I get the paperback. Some authors on my (semi-)automatic buy list are by then in the clearance section rubbing shoulders with the rich and infamous ones you mentioned. So I buy the hardcover. Does that make any sense? My wallet is nodding that it does.

    I sometimes replace worse for wear or misplaced (You borrowed that book three years ago. Still busy reading it? You know who you are.) paperback keepers with hardcovers. Books given as gifts: hardcover, if available. Hardcover heaven: antiquarian bookshops, those kingdoms of lost and found my wallet pleads me not to enter.

    I don’t listen to Pattersonesque pleas either. Since his is not one of those experimental interactive things, it just sounds like… What’s a nicer word for blackmail?

  52. I buy only one author in hardcover, well, actually it's two. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I started many moons ago because I knew, like Lord Peter Wimsey, that I was going to adore Pendergast and I do. He's brilliant and quirky and there's a bit of paranormal and sci-fi and fantasy, all rolled into him. So he's great fun. I bought a hardcover of the first in their series after I read the paperback, and have since bought them all. But, I made a decision early on that since they were so expensive, I just couldn't buy every author in hardcover. So I don't.

    I do buy reference books, or what I consider reference in hardcover. And believe it or not, if I can get more ancient texts, those from the 1800's and very early 1900's, it's much better. Something about holding a book someone else held 100 years ago makes it more cherished.

    But I for the killing off the mail character, I read the first book of a series that seemed promising, the story was good, the H/Hn were likable and in the last two pages, the author killed off the hero! *blinks* Needless to say, I didn't continue with the series. But if an author is set on 'threatening' to kill off his character, that tells me he's lost interest in said character and future books most likely will be wasting my time anyway.

    And I didn't mean to 'talk' your ear off. :-D

  53. Nastassia5:42 PM

    I cannot tell the last time I bought a hardcover , I think the last time was when I bought the last JK Rowling HP book.I have not bought a hardcover book since that. When I buy a hardcover ,it is from a author that I really love and am a great fan of and I'll always keep my hardcover books. Recently though I'm buying mostly ebooks and paperbacks, the former more so than the latter.
    About the author killing off a character- well I used to read this series that I loved and then a character I really like died , I have since lost interest in the rest of the series. Threatening to kill off a character will not force me to buy a book.

  54. Hello!

    I never buy hardcovers. The reason is maybe a bit weird, but is just that I'm a 'shopoholic' with books. So I go to book stores, see what's new, but only go there again and buy any book after I have some time to think about which one to choose next.

    So, buy the time I go there again, the book I was craving is already in paperback.

    About your other question, I don't like needing or desperate writers. If someone tells me he's going to do something IF I don't buy his books, it's the fast way to convince me to NOT buy it.


  55. >>When I buy books I just buy. I walk in the store browse and buy what catches my eye.

    I'm with Brandy. I Just buy--now, normally, I buy few hardcovers OUTSIDE of YA fiction where I tend to buy a lot. Otherwise, I'm one of the few peeps who buys trade pb because honestly, my eye are getting a little old LOL

    Last time we hit the book store I bought ONE adult book--all the others were YA's.


  56. know I think the only fiction hardcovers I bought this year were YAs. Three or four of them. I made these purchases to support the authors. In the past I have bought hardcovers because of a great series storyline. And they have to be compelling for me to buy them in hardcover.

    NF I bought several.

    Most of my fiction book purchases have been in e-books.

    I will say this, I never pay full price on a hardcover. Most of the time I get them 15-20 percent off from Borders or Barnes and Noble.

  57. As for buying hardcovers, I can recall only buying one once and it was on sale and an author I really liked. Two others were picked up used. And this is over 20 years or so. Everything else has been paperback.

    To be blunt, Hardcovers are way too expensive and not worth the money. They are also big, bulky and take up way too much space on the bookshelf. Why should I pay that kind of money for something I can read in two hours or less? Heck, I had a pay reduction this year, and that gives even more incentive not to pay as much money as might be my food budget in a week.

    The big problem I have is remembering to pick up the paperback when it comes out. The hype when the HC is big, but when the PB comes out I usually don’t hear anything. A few years down the road something might jog my memory, most times it doesn’t. Which means that author loses me as a customer just because of the wait for it to come out in the smaller format. Not good for the book business, but I guess good for my pocketbook. Meanwhile I get used books from the second hand store by the bunches. :)

    And manipulative blackmail of the readers? That feels a little slimy and desperate. I don’t read his books, and now I’m not inclined to.

  58. Anonymous9:10 AM

    I love the feel of hardcovers and the only thing I really "collect" are books. That said, I do limit myself to certain authors -- books that I expect to re-read.
    As many other readers pointed out, many of my favorite authors are actually published in paperback. I don't know if it is because of the genres I'm picking up, but I do know that, at least on my bookshelf, there are more women authors in paperback than male authors.

    I've forgotten who said it up top, but I too like to have my series in the same format. But, when Kelly Armstrong was published in hardcover, I didn't hesitate to purchase it. She's just one example of a female author I've passed on to many friends, and in her case I'll go back and purchase the earlier versions in hardcover if they are reissued that way, as my paperbacks are well-worn. Other authors I might wait for the paperback version.
    So, cost is a factor, and space is one as well. But I do purchase hardcovers still.

  59. I'll buy one hardcover a year, generally at xmas time. I might not even do that this year, and it certainly won't be one of the 10 dollar titles offered up at Walmart, etc. I don't support this devaluation of the book I'm seeing of late. I am happy to wait for the paperback honestly. If I had an ereader, I'd be happy waiting for that release after the hardcover too. People are too impatient. I like hardcovers, but I'm in the same boat as you Lynn. It's a more practical investment for me to get the three paperbacks.

    As for Patterson's threat, I hope it is a tongue in cheek marketing ploy. If it is genuine, that's really quite sad, not that I'm inspired to buy anything from the Patterson Publishing Machine anyway, but still. I would stop buying that author's work if they seriously pulled a stunt like that.

  60. I very rarely buy hardbacks - the most recent were one by Anne Bishop and one by Lois McMaster Bujold, but that's about it. And when they come out in paperback I'll get those because they're easier to hold/ carry and I'll pass the hardbacks onto someone else.
    The *only* reason I bought the hardbacks was because I couldn't / didn't want to wait for the paperback to come out. With LMB there's usually (still) a year between hardback & paperback release. For books I don't want to wait for I'd prefer it if there were an e-book version (that didn't cost the same as the hardback, thank you) because I'd buy that and then a year later I'd still buy the paperback for the ease of reading/ portability etc.

    But for most books/ authors I go for paperbacks: they fit on the shelves more easily; I can get more for my money; and, especially with series, they look right on the shelf. I know aesthethics have nothing to do with the content's quality, but I find it annoying when publishers change the format half-way through a series. It's not so bad if they do eventually bring out a mass-market paperback; it's when they bring out the 'B' formats that are halfway between a paperback and a trade edition - they don't look right on the shelf, they don't always fit and it's really irritating. /rant

    An author threatening to kill off a character wouldn't bother me at all; I buy what I can afford so if an author tried to browbeat me into buying a particular format I'd be more likely to not buy a copy at all (or get it used).


  61. I only by hardcover to support authors I know who come out that way. I have yours in hard cover and Holly's for example. But I can't hold a hardcover book up either and haven't been able to since I was 25, so reading in hard cover involves careful setup and just isn't worth it most of the time.

    Threatening to kill off a character though? I don't know... The underlying message there is that the author, not the story, is driving the tale. To me, that's offputting on a whole nother level.

  62. I do buy HB of authors that I keep their books. JD Robb, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, and a few others. However I never pay full price, I either get them when they are just out and 20-30% off at Borders or I use a 30% off coupon from Borders.

    I do have some HB that I got from book clubs and have actually thought about getting Shadowlight in HB as it is offered at these clubs in HB and that series looks to be a keeper for me. :) Of course I usually wait until they have a BOGO or some other major incentive before I buy from them either.

  63. Keita Haruka12:24 PM

    I don't buy hardcovers...both for economic reasons and simply because they take up so much space. Hardcovers simply devour shelfspace...and space is at a premium at my place. :P So I do tend to wait for paperbacks to become availible.

    To answer the other I wouldn't buy a book in which the author did that. In would irritate me immensely. I hate being manipulated. If someone tells me "do this, or I'll do that"...I tend to call their bluff and tell them to be my guest. :P I'm stupidly stubborn like that. ;-)

  64. I know there's a certain prestige when authors publish in hardcover, but it seems like a waste of my time since I will, invariably, wait for the paperback.

    The only time I bother with a hardcover is when it appears in my local library.

  65. I feel like I'm one of the few readers who prefers hardcover books. :) Out of all the books I bought this year, I think a third of them here hardcover - and not book club editions either. I like the way they sit on my shelves and because I reread a lot, I like that hardcovers stand up over time better than paperbacks.

    That said, I did cut down my HC list a few years ago and will wait for a few authors to come out in paper back. Some authors I want in hardcover I'll wait for coupons, sales or the remainders rack at the bookstore.

  66. I buy pb for the same reason most have stated here, it's cheaper and more convenient. I did just recently realize, when I was SO desperate to get my hands on Sara Donati's latest, that some hardbacks can include maps and drawings that you miss in the pb. So I will buy hardback for series that are important to me, or for stand-alone stories I love, love, love. My bookshelf is a source of pride for me, and I love to show off my pretty hardbacks.

  67. AnnaM.7:01 PM

    I've been buying Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Primeval novels in hardcover, but only because the new ones don't come in paperback.

    The only other hardcovers I buy are for my "true love" series--Darkover, Dune, Vorkosigan and Catherine Asaro. The only reason I'm looking for hardcovers of those is because I plan to reread them all until the day I die and, you know, I WILL live to be 100. Yep. ;-) Those books have to last.


    If I really adore a book and am sure I want to reread it a lot I'll look for the hardcover version. I had a really bad time getting the old Darkover books to hold together for even one read through. The pages weren't glued well or something.

    About the author threats. Well, unless I really like the author or series that behavior is likely to send me running.

  68. The only time I've bought hardbacks in the last year or two has been when I was so hot to read it I couldn't wait for the pb version, AND it was selling at a discount. It's just not worth it to buy the hardback when the pb will be coming out shortly.

    There are a few authors whose books I want to add to my library, and those I don't mind buying in hardback. Even those have to be on sale though!

    An author threatening a storyline if sales don't materialize would be reason for me to not buy the thing at all. I'd be so mad at the manipulation, I'd just wait until it showed up in my local library. :-)

  69. WOW, what a response to your question! I have to admit, I have only bought a HB of JR Ward's latest BDB, just because I was impatient to wait for the PB, and will probably buy any others in the future. I also know if your kindred books were first released in HB, I'd be first in line at Borders.
    I used to read James P's Alex Cross series (and thoroughly enjoyed them) when they were in PB, but I'm so hooked on paranormal romance now, I don't have time to read anything else.
    I'll pick up HBs for my hub if I see an author that I know he likes, hasn't read from the library and the price has been reduced. He's very fussy.

  70. I prefer hardcovers for reference books (especially cookbooks and dictionaries), but I rarely buy them otherwise and when I do it's after I've read them from the library or in another format and decided they're worth having for a long time. I don't think I've ever been anxious enough for something that I'd buy it in hardcover because the paperback wasn't yet available. An author threatening to kill off a character seems manipulative, and it would compel me not to buy their book.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.