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?
Further reading? (nytimes)