the Little Red Reviewer

Hardback books are hard!!

Posted on: July 18, 2012

hardback books are hard. . .

. . . on the wallet, that is.

Most mass market paperbacks run $10 or less. A higher quality trade paperback is usually in the $13 – $17 range. But a hardback? Now were talking $22, $25, sometimes upwards of $30. (e-books are all over the place, but I’m not concerned with e-books, as I don’t have an e-reader)

A ten dollar mass market paperback is ten bucks for a reason. The binding isn’t awesome, the paper is usually flimsy, you might get ink rubbed off on your hands while you read. But you’ll probably get a dozen readings out of the thing before it starts to fall apart.

A $25 (or more) hardback is going to last forever. The paper is much higher quality and the ink doesn’t rub off, and that binding glue ain’t going anywhere. Sometimes the dust jacket has better cover art and maybe even a photo of the author inside, and sometimes you’ll find little easter eggs engraved right into the book itself.

Some books are only ever in paperback, and others are first printed in hardback and then a year or so later, a cheapo paperback comes out. How I would love to listen in on a publisher’s decision on whether or not to print something in hardback or paperback, especially for debut authors, where early sales could affect future contracts or sales. Hey, Authors, do you get any weight in the paperback/hardback decision when you are working with publishers?

So, fellow  book lovers: how much does cost impact your decision to purchase a book?

If a book you want to read is only in hardback, do you buy it? Or do you borrow it from the library, wait to find a hardback at the used bookstore, or wait for it to come out in paperback?  There are 4 books that I currently have my eye on. two are paperback, so those are a no-brainer, each will be ten bucks or less. But two of them are hardbacks, each running minimum of $25. It suddenly adds up to a fat chunk of change, and I am going to have to choose. Don’t get me wrong, the 2nd book will eventually get purchased, but possibly not for another two to three months, and damnit, I want to read it now!

And yes, I know the easy answer is to just wait for a deal on Amazon and go that route. Spend enough and get free shipping, etc. It’s easy, but every book I buy at Amazon is another sale my beloved local indie owned bookstore isn’t getting. Amazon is my last resort.


21 Responses to "Hardback books are hard!!"

I live in the sticks, a good 1.5 hours from the nearest bookstore, which is a Hastings. So, i do purchase many books online like from BetterWorldBooks and most of them are used. When I fall in love with an author’s work, that’s when i spring for the new hardbacks.


I’m not wealthy, but cost does not figure into my decision. If the author is a favorite, I buy. I have an e-reader and all favorites are on it. If the initial release is a hardback, I buy it. Yes, this means I have duplicate copies of many books. That is a comfort to me. The enjoyment from a book in a series has more impact on future purchases than cost.


The vast majority of my reading is split between my ereader and library books. I live in a tiny city apartment, so I don’t acquire physical books unless there’s a really good reason or a really good deal. Or graphic novels. I do buy a LOT of graphic novels, mostly on sale on Amazon or used at bookstores. But I hate hardcover graphic novels. They take up too much extra room on the shelf. I also have quite a bit of affection for paperbacks in general, since the majority of my reading during my formative years was done in that format: lots of mass market sci-fi and fantasy that never dreamed of being hardcover. At this point I’m just fond of the size. I also hate trying to carry hardcovers around, and I do a lot of my reading away from home.

This is all amounting to say that I don’t buy hardcovers unless A) I’ve already read the book and I know I want a fancy copy to keep (LOTR, Collected Sherlock, Collected Shakespeare, etc.) B) I’m already collecting the series (and love the series) in a particular size/format (Dark Tower) or C) Very rarely I might buy a brand new hardcover that I haven’t read yet, only if I am head-over-heels in love with the series AND own all the rest, AND actually can’t wait for the library to get the book. I think this has happened once in the past ten years. (Cryoburn, although the next one in that series is coming… we’ll see what I do then.)


Cost has never been a determining factor for me. If I want to read the book I buy it. Easy as pie.


Cost is always a factor for me. I have a hard time justifying $25 to $30 on a hardcover when I can use that same about at a used bookstore to get five to seven paperbacks.

When I’m hooked on a series, though, then I spring for the hardcover. Right now my must-have books are the Dresden Files, A Song of Ice and Fire, and pretty much anything John Scalzi puts out.


For shiny new books I buy trades to be economical—better paper and binding than mass-market, not as harsh on the wallet. When I can get 2-3 trades on Amazon at the same price as one hardback driving to Barnes & Noble… If I’m going to re-read it upteen billion times, I’ll splurge on a hardback. And I do keep series in the same format.

Between libraries, shopping online, and hitting up used bookstores, I’ve never found prices to be an economical hurdle. More often than not I pick up a book I want when I see it at a good price and read something else in the meantime. So I end up reading stuff years after it was popular, but console myself by affording ten times as much of it.


Cost is a major factor to me as well. I have enough books to read as is, so I ask myself whether I can wait for the paperback version to come out. Most of the time the answer is yes, but then there are some quality hardbacks that I have to have.


In my situation cost is always a factor so lately I’ve been borrowing a lot from the library. The last 2 hardcovers I bought for myself, one was from B&N and only because I had a 50% off coupon and the other was only $3 at my local used/new bookstore. The other hardcovers I got have been gifts and when I do buy, it’s usually paperbacks.


My sister recently lent Joe Abercrombie’s the Heroes in hardback. I love his stuff and had wanted to read it for ages. I made it about 60 pages in before getting fed up of hefting the massive tome around, and bought if for my kindle instead. A much happier reading experience! (though I did keep the hardback on my reading table to refer to the maps).
I avoid any hardback that’s more than 300 pages. Just too heavy 😦


Cost used to be a big issue for me, being a student and of course being Dutch 😉 It just made more sense to buy several paperbacks than one hardback for the same amount of money. These days, if it’s a book by an author I really want to read NOW when it first comes out I’ll spring for the hardback, otherwise I’ll just wait for the paperback. Funnily enough, I always wait for the paperbacks of my very favourite author because I have all of her books in paperback and I don’t want to mess up my shelves. *facepalm*


Cost is definitely is a factor for me, although less so since I started using NetGalley. I don’t know if I’ve ever bought a latest release in hardcover – they’re just way too expensive, so if I really want the novel, I wait for the paperback edition or a sale. I’m from South Africa, and since most fiction is imported from the US or UK, the prices are even higher than the ones you quoted. I actually have a lot of hardcovers, but I bought most of them from a local biannual book sale where they go for less than the cost of a paperback. I don’t have any collections that started out with hardbacks, and I’ve never wanted a particular book so badly that I couldn’t wait to buy a cheaper edition.

These days, most of the books I acquire and read are review copies, so I don’t spend as much on books as I used to. This gives me room to splurge a bit, so I’ll buy a hardback if I really like the book or the author is one of my favourites, but I’ll buy from Book Depository rather than a pricier brick-and-mortar store.


Cost has been a motivator for me in the past. There are several series that I’ve never finished, simply because (for some bizarre reason) the publisher decided not to release the final volume in mass-market paperback. I just noted that the book was out, decided to wait for the paperback, and eventually forgot about it when there was no paperback was forthcoming.

These days, its more an issue of size. I don’t want to lug around a huge hardback. Also, I travel a lot (in the sense that my ‘home’ moves around a lot) so I try to do e-books as much as possible, for easy moving. However, recently I’ve been in the same place for a while, and my boyfriend is trying to influence me towards buying hardbacks to ‘beautify’ my bookshelf. We’ll see :).


I also find the very hard on the shoulders. They’re so heavy. Especially when they’re long books. I gave up on hard books along time ago. I still have this thing for mass market paperbacks though. Especially old ones


My first resort is always the local public library, then, then local and online used book sellers and so on down the chain. It’s very, very rare that I buy a book brand new, let alone in hardcover if there’s a reasonable expectation there will be a mass market edition some time down the line.

I recently purchased a Doctor Who novel brand new in hardcover, because that’s the only way they’re published these days. It was probably the first brand new fiction book I’ve bought in five or more years.


Cost is a major issue for me when buying books. I’m at that underemployed grad school phase where I have to watch every penny, so I don’t even remember the last time that I bought a new hardback that wasn’t discounted. Even if they weren’t so expensive, hardbacks are particularly annoying to carry in a purse. If I’m buying books for myself, then e-books and mass market paperbacks are the way to go. Oh, and Netgalley and review copies are the latest enablers of my reading addiction… I get all happy and excited every time that someone wants to give me books to read/review. It’s like having a fairy godmother.


The cost of hardbacks is definitely an issue for me – mainly because I read such a lot of books I would probably need a second job or a second mortgage to supplement buying them all (plus my husband would leave me! You know how some women sneak clothes or shoes into their homes and hide them in cupboards and then tell their husband/partner they’ve been their ages? That’s me with books. They’re stashed all over the house. In fact the house looks like a mad professor lives here). The problem for me is that sometimes I simply JUST CAN’T WAIT! The suspense would drive me to distraction. The Wise Man’s Fear, for example, it was there in the shops, begging to be bought. I could wait for the cheaper paperback – but I really didn’t want to. However, I’m only going to shell out for something like that, where I’m besides myself waiting for the book to come out anyway, so how can I possibly wait any longer. Scott Lynch is another fine example – going to buy AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! I must admit I do like hardback books, but, like Grace said, they’re a pain to carry around, they’re sometimes so bloody heavy that you get RSI just keeping them balanced (you definitely can’t hold a hardback book in one hand!) and then the expense on top of it all! On the whole, I use a mixture of buying, library, friends and charity/second hand shops and I find this is a good combination. Plus, you should see the way I act when I find a bargain – picture Gollum with his precious! I do like a good thumbed through paperback that looks like somebody has read and reread.
Lynn 😀


At the rate I acquire books cost is pretty much THE defining factor. I could spend $25 on a new hardcover, or go to Half Price Books and get half a dozen paperbacks for the same amount. So I do pretty much all my book shopping at HPB, or I look for similar deals at AbeBooks or eBay. I’ll make a rare exception for New Book I Must Have By Author I Love, but in those cases I’ll still get the cheaper trade paperback online for $12 or so.

Space is a factor, too, but I’ll buy the TPB for $2 over the MMPB at $8.

All other things being equal, I’d prefer all hardcovers, but (a) I’m very careful about handling my books, and (b) I don’t reread a ton, so I’m confident that even my used MMPBs will last for as long as I need them to.


I *only* buy a hardback if it is a book I already know I love and I want to add it to my personal books I love collection. In that case I’ll probably shell out extra bucks for a really pretty cover, illustrations, etc…

First choice is always ebook. Second paperback, but I’ll probably borrow that from a library. Never buy a hardback.



Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn’t find a contact email for you.

A while ago I put out an ebook of my writing, called ‘The New Death and others’. It’s a collection of short pieces, mostly dark fantasy.

I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a review on your blog.

If so, please email me: Let me know what file format is easiest for you, and I’ll send you a free copy.

You can download a sample from the ebook’s page on Smashwords:

I’m also happy to do interviews, guest posts, or giveaways. Just let me know what you’d prefer.



Hi James, due to a major backlog, I am not taking requests for self published works and I am unable to read any type of electronic works. the best way to reach me for further discussion is twitter.


Late to the party (as usual). I love the look of HBs, but unless they’re collectable, I usually avoid for two reasons:
1) They’ve heavy to read and fatigue me with my one-hand reading technique.
2) They take up too much space, which is increasingly a factor for this Ubercollector.


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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