Friday, January 28, 2011

#Fridayreads - death of the hardback?

Rather than reviewing this week, I'm going to chat quickly about a recent experience and ask what you think. I'm still reading sooper seekrit RITA books, you see, but I was at the bookstore the other night and wanted to share.

I was really there to pick up gift cards for a few birthday parties going on this weekend. Well, I can't go into a bookstore and not browse A LITTLE. I was in between sports runs so didn't have a lot of time. Picked up a few cute bookmarks. Browsed the romance section. But I have a ginormous tbr. So I went to the YA section instead. Grabbed a book for my eldest. Went to the 9-12 section and found a book for my youngest that looked like something she'd LOVE - and hadn't read yet. Beautiful Joe.

I had a little sticker shock at the cash register but did some quick addition and figured it was a little high but I wasn't going to hold up the line. It all became clear when I got home. The paperback-sized hardback was $25.

I was aghast. It was a hardback but it wasn't huge, like, say, Shadowfever with all its beautiful packaging, you know? It was the size of a Nancy Drew book. $25. If I'd seen the price, I wouldn't have bought it. You know what I would have done? I would have come home and looked for it at amazon in paperback.

Are hardbacks on the way out? It looks that way. Reports yesterday say that kindle is outselling hardbacks on amazon 2:1. I can understand why. If you don't want to wait for the paperback, which would you rather pay? $10-15 for the kindle and have it RIGHT NOW or $20+ for the hardback?

There's been lots of discussion about how the industry is changing and price points and whatever. I can see things from both sides - as a writer making a living and as a reader who buys A LOT of books. And all I can say is, for me personally, I have to really really WANT something in hardback before I'll shell out that much money.


  1. Anonymous8:17 a.m.

    I won't buy hardcovers any more for myself - I buy it in ebook or borrow it from the library. It's not just the sticker shock, but it's the additional space the book takes up. And the other frustrating thing is that $25 hardback in the store might have been 20 or 30% less if you had mail ordered from that same store's on line shop. Hubby wanted a hardcover biography late last year. I bought it online, along with a Trade book that I wanted (same thing - extra discount) to qualify for the free shipping.


  2. A hardback book holds up much better if the book will be read multiple times. However, between sticker shock and space considerations, it does seemed doomed to go the way of the dinosaur. I still have my childhood (hardback) copy of Beautiful Joe and my childhood was a loooooong time ago.

  3. This same topic was being discussed on a talk show the other day. The host is reading a mystery series and of course the book comes out in hard cover first. Then it is issued in trade size paperback and lastly pocketbook. He was shocked at the price of the hardcover at over $40 which will be the only way for him to buy it and read right now unless he buys an ebook. He seriously questioned the practice of the 3 versions of the book making people wait almost two years for the smallest cheapest version which he considered the most likely buy for the majority of people. He thinks bookstores will become obsolete if they don't start taking into consideration the competition they will get from people buying ebooks. I personally don't buy ebooks so I don't know if the price drops on these books the longer they have been out there or not. It was such an interesting topic that it had my husband looking at ereaders the next time we were out mall walking.

  4. I have some hardback books - older ones - that I wouldn't part with for anything, but I don't know how long it's been since I bought a hardback novel. Cost and space in my tiny home make it impractical. A bit sad, as that also means illustrations seem to passing away too. Perhaps as time goes on, more e-books will have illustrations and the readers will improve to accomodate them.