Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is the hardback book dying?

The time between hardbacks and paperbacks is progressively decreasing, and ebooks now release at almost the same time as the hardback. My recent purchase of Kate Daniel's latest by Ilona Andrews was the same day as the hardback, but I got it at 1/2 the cost.
We know more buyers are doing this, as Amazon recently reported that ebooks were outselling hardbacks by 143 to 100 (Publishers Weekly).
Ebooks also accelerate the paperbacks release dates - several publishing houses now release paperbacks within 6 months of the hardback release. 
“I really do think that e-books are part of the reason for this trend of hurrying up that paperback,” said Carrie Kania, the publisher of Harper Perennial and It Books. “You don’t have to wait for a lower-priced version of that book now. I think we need to move more quickly in general.”
Traditionally, the gap between hardback and paperback releases was 1 year.
Still, I would rather wait the three-odd months to the ebook release, and perhaps get it from my library, unless the author was a favorite of mine (Terry Pratchett, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Ilona Andrews among others).
Lots of interesting books have recently released directly as trade of mass market paperbacks - Scott Westerley's Uglies series did crazy good business in this format, perhaps justifying the no-hardback decision taken. Does this mean we are seeing a trend where the end lies in no hardback releases? 
Who knows!

Further reading? (nytimes)
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  1. A good point is definitely made in the quote stating that e-books are a possible cause. Half the time I don't look forward to a book's release date so much as I look forward to the time I can actually afford to buy the book, which is usually when it's in paperback. It's not entirely surprising that, when offered with an expensive version and a cheap version, people choose the latter.

    But I wouldn't say that the hardcover is dying, or at least not as quickly as some may worry. Many people enjoy hardcover books, knowing that they're of a more limited release than paperbacks or ebooks. Even though I can't always afford then, I confess that I love hardcovers for that exact reason. I feel proud to have them.

    But things speeding up is no reason to worry overmuch. Movies make it to DVD faster than ever before, in no small part due to piracy, but that doesn't mean that movie theatres aren't crammed full of people on opening night.

  2. I prefer paperbacks myself ... leaves me more space for books and something to hug ... I don't quite relish hugging a e-reader at the good parts. LOL.

  3. I hope so. That may be awful to say but I'm not a fan of hardback. All cons and no pros in my book. They are bigger, heavier, way more expensive, and those damn covers are always slipping off adn getting in the way. Not to mention they hurt my hands when I read them. Paperbacks and ebooks are my fave. The only time I ever buy a hardback is if it's priced super low and I REALLT REALLY want the book.

  4. @bibliotropic - I love hugging hardbacks too :) There is definitely a sense of pride in owning some.

    @Kah woei - e-readers are huggable!! :) *brandishes slightly-abused Kindle*

    @Jade - The nice thing about hardbacks is how they look on your shelf,and also that they tend not to get borrowed by guests visiting your home :D

  5. I've thought about this as well because I find myself reading loads of e-books but then I look at what kind of "actual" books I buy and those are all hard backs. I think sometimes there is too much reading into trends. Of course a lot of e-books are being sold because there is still a rise in how many e-readers are being sold. Once most people have an e-reader and have gotten used to using it, I think they'll buy hard covers rather than paperbacks as an extra. But maybe I'm rambling XD
    Thanks for the post :)


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