Sunday, April 12, 2009

To be hard or not to be hard? That is the question.

My name is Kris and it's a real pleasure to be here as the DIK guest today to talk about... hard cover books.

You thought I was going to say something else, didn't you. *tsking* Such naughty minds some readers have. ;)

When Wave asked me if I would like to post at DIK I was thrilled at the chance to play at one of my favourite blogs... and then promptly went into a tizzy trying to decide what I should talk about. Should I try to be intelligent (no snorting from those who know me!), interesting or funny?? Decisions, decisions. It was then I realised I should probably stick to what I do best; the rant. And, boy, have I ever been holding back on one!


In the past couple of months, two of the latest books in different series I read have been released in hard cover. This hasn't been the second or even third in a series, which I could probably deal with, but the fourth and the fifth books. I'm talking about these:

Am I the only one that seriously hates it when publishers do this?! It annoys the absolute crap out of me!

I'm not one to begrudge money going to authors for the sales of their work (what little some of them get for it anyway); however, when you are paying anywhere from $35 to $50 for a hard cover (in Australia you are, not sure what it's like for the rest of you out there) it's a serious chunk out of the daily monthly book buying budget.

Besides this, there are two other reasons why the sudden appearance of a hard cover pees me off:

Reason # 1. This kind of relates to the $$ thing in that I have made a promise to myself I will only ever buy one author in hard cover and this is the amazingly talented God of Parody, Terry Pratchett. For all other books I must wait until it is released in trade paperback or preferably paperback...

... and wait...

... and Wait...

... and WAIT!

FYI - I DESPISE waiting. I'm one of those horrible people who have the patience of a gnat and to wait anywhere from 6 months to a year for a paperback whilst everyone everywhere else is singing its praises... well, it's simply inhumane. Note: One day this, like PMS and menopause, will be used as part of the defence in a murder trial. Just saying.

Reason # 2. Granted with my OCD I have issues with symmtery and order, but who doesn't get annoyed when their bookcases are mucked up by the sudden appearance of a hard cover in the midst of a lovely - and evenly sized - line of paperbacks!

And don't tell me I can shelve all the hard covers together because I CAN'T. All the books in a series should be kept together and in order of publication and that's FINAL! *ahem*

I could also go on for days about how hard covers or the popularity of a book/series or the translation of book to film can result in the redesign of a cover. Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series is a perfect example of this:

That blond chick doesn't even look like the actress Anna Paquin ( from True Blood. *mutter, mutter*

What the heck is an OCD reader meant to do when something like this completely destroys the feng shui of his/her bookcases?? Its discrimination is what it is!

Thank God for ebooks! At least, they can be relied upon to be neatly tucked away into a folder regardless of their size.

Deep breaths, Kris, deep breaths.

Am I the only one who is able to see through the glaze of recent release lust to the fact that the hard cover is one of the biggest conspiracies in today's publishing world?!

... or maybe it's just me...

... again...



Tracy said...

lol Kris I'm getting the feeling that you don't appreciate hardcovers. But maybe I just read that wrong, no? :) I'm not a fan of hardcovers (here in the US they're about $25.00) but will buy them when I truly want the book. I have to say that if I want the book bad enough I will get it however I can without having to wait. Tracy=impatient.

Thanks for visiting the blog!

Kris said...

*snort* I like hard covers fine, Tracy. I just appreciate them even more though when they're not pushing my veryimpatientmustbuymenow button or impacting the aesthetic I've got going on. The buggers.

Oh, and thanks for having me. ;)

Sami said...

These are not the only series this travesty has been committed upon but only the most well screamed about recent releases, just wait for the howls of despair when lovher ahvenged comes out.

The only hardback I have bought in recent years was Acheron and only because target has a return policy and if she screwed up Ash's book I'd have stopped reading her altogether (she didn't and with the length of the book the larger print was nice on the eyes), I'm also planning a buying trip tomm. to get the paperback so my bookcases will resume their normal appearance.

shoganrea said...

just... *lol* :)

The publishers also get their money later. First they release the hard cover, which only a percentage of the readers will buy, and maybe half a year later they release the paperback. And that's the time the book will be bought in high numbers and the money will come in. But why wait these six months? Why not release the book immediately in both formats or better still, as an ebook? Do the publishers make that much more profit from a hard cover book, even though they are only sold in small numbers?

Oh, too much thinking in the morning. Need another coffee... *yawns and rubs eyes*


Kris said...

Thank God there are more like me out there, Sami! My virutal friends like Tracy think I'm the biggest dork. LOL.

BTW, are you pyschic?? I was just bemoaning the whole Acheron thing to a friend. It's very hard to argue the case that hard covers are not part of some conspiracy when only one book in the entire series, Acheron, has ever been printed in this format. Luckily I have a tame romance bookstore which imports directly from the US and I therefore got a lower price for it. Still, the bloody thing is nearly 3 times the size of the other books and it looks ridiculous on my bookshelf! *pouts*

My word verication is: maniach. I think someone is trying to tell me something. *snort*

Kris said...

Are you laughing at me, Christian?? You are, aren't you. :(

My theory~ A reader discovers a book one day and then O_O there is a sequel. All of a sudden it is a series and they have been caught up in its vicious cycle. Addicted, the reader is now desperate for their next new release fix when suddenly it turns up as a hard cover. Oh, what can the poor reader do?? Can they hold out despite their craving?? NOOOO! The End.

It explains everything.

shoganrea said...

I would never, ever laugh at you!

I was laughing to cheer you up again! :D

And I'm one of these addicted and abused souls, too. I learned about the Doctrine of Labyrinths series by Sarah Monette when the third book of the series was just released as a paperback and bought all three parts as paperbacks then. On April 7 the fourth and final part of the series Corambis was released and as the Kindle is not available in Germany, I have to admit that I couldn't refrain myself from buying the hard cover... :(


Kris said...

Corambis is out?!

But in hard cover???

*starts twitching*

Dammit Christian!

Jenre said...

Great post Kris. I totally agree, issuing books in hardcover part way through a series is frustrating. I often find that the local library gets the book in hardcover before the paperback comes out so I can read it, then wait to buy the paperback for the bookcase aesthetics.

What irritates me no end is that publishers do release the ebook at the same time as the hardback - but it is the same price as the hardback, just as an ebook. This makes absolutely no sense to me as the cost of producing an ebook is in no way the same as the cost of producing a swanky hardcover.

Sometimes I think that the publishers are laughing at me.

Kris said...

Hmm, I like your approach, Jen.

I admit to not being wholly coverted to buying authors/series in eformat when I've always purchased them in print. I find I am unable to stay firm against the overwhelming need to have a print copy for my bookshelves. And it would be bad for me to have 2 copies of the same book... right??

They are laughing at us, Jen. Well, I say HA! back to them. The readers are on to their conspiracy and we will plot our strategy for rising up against them in the dusty corners of libraries and at book cafes throughout the literary world! Who's with me!

Wait; I have deja vu. I've said this before, haven't I. *sigh*

Carolyn Crane said...

Oh, funny! Thanks for the post and welcome!!
Hardcovers really are SUCH a gamble. I buy like one a year. But they're cheaper here - more in the $28 range. Still, that's huge!!

There seems to be some mysterious calculus around them. And yeah, yesterday I was at a bookstore and found a $5 HC of Blue Eyed Devil, which makes it cheaper than the mass (which I planned to buy), so I snagged it, but I was like, this will be huge on my bookshelf.

jessewave said...


I admit to not being wholly coverted to buying authors/series in eformat when I've always purchased them in print. I find I am unable to stay firm against the overwhelming need to have a print copy for my bookshelves. And it would be bad for me to have 2 copies of the same book... right??

I see nothing wrong in having 2 copies of the same book. Doesn't everyone? I mean, if you really love a book you would want to get it in all colours, shapes, sizes, hard, soft, middling and anything in between, wouldn't you?

While I'm with Christian, he really shouldn't tease you knowing how strongly you feel about this important matter. I was laughing so hard at 2.00 A.M. (in my time zone) when I was posting this, even though I was dog tired. Next time you want me to post your stuff don't give me so many fricking pictures and links to accompany the post - do you know how HARD that was at that ungodly hour???

Kris said...

Thanks for the welcome, CJ, but.. did you have brag about buying a hardcover for only $5?! Geez.

That's it. I'm moving to the US. I think the cost of books is a perfectly good reason to move across the planet, don't you.

Kris said...

You and Christian are deliberately encouraging me, Wave. Stop. It.

I was going to say sorry for trying to make the post pretty and everything for the ladies at DIK. But now... hmm... I think I will sleep on it and see if I'm feeling nice in the morning. ;)

Tracy said...

A Dork is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you're gonna get. Your definitely one of the good a box of nuts and chews. Am I making it all better now?

JenB said...

I haaaaaate hardcovers. I also despite trade paper, but that's another rant.

I guess I should be happy for authors when their books come out in hardback, but I wish the publishers would release the MMPB at the same time for those of us who don't want the hardback. They'd make more money that way. I flat refuse to buy hardbacks. I don't care how badly I want a book; I'll either buy the e-book or wait for the mass market paperback. And half the time I lose interest in the series before the MMPB comes out, which is a shame.

Lea said...

Well Said Kris!

I too find it annoying when publishers release a tried, true and well-loved book from a series in hard cover, when they previously have been available in paperback.

More often than not now, I will bide my time and wait for the mass market paperback to be released. The one exception to that was the release of "Acheron", last year. I couldn't wait. lol

However, as you indicated the cost is prohibitive when you consider one can likely get at least 3 paperbacks to read for the cost of one hardcover *sigh*.

Excellent post! I am right there with you.

Best Regards

Katie Reus said...

It's a pet peeve of mine too, especially during a series. Grrr! I agree, it's a total conspiracy! Linda Howard is probably the only author I'll buy in hard cover (if it's not available in e-format). Other than that, I'll wait til paperback ;)

Oh yeah, I bought Acheron in hardcover too, that's the only other book I couldn't wait for *g*

Chris said...

OMG Kris! Are we siblings separated at birth? I have on many occasions discussed this very thing with my friends. First of all I am a re-reader. If I enjoy a book, I will go back and revisit the friends I made there. Of course this leads to the bookcase dilemma. How can I go back to revisit unless I keep all of the books I really like. Then there is the fact that I have to keep the books of my favorite authors. As if this isn’t difficult enough, the publishers have to throw me for a loop and publish that hard cover in the middle of the series. Hey I really wouldn’t have a problem if they would go back and republish the earlier books in HC, but no…they apparently do not have the OCD issue that I suffer from. Well I finally figured out how to calm the little voices in my head. I have made it a personal “law” that I will not purchase a hard cover book that is published in the middle of a series. Yes, I will impatiently wait for that paperback. Of course that also means I have to find my fix elsewhere. That can lead to the instant gratification issue. You know the one that makes me go ebook. Yes, no matter the size they do all fit neatly into the standard folder, and they even alphabetize themselves. Unfortunately I don’t have one of those nifty readers and must read from my laptop. I cannot do this while reclining in bed or soaking in the tub. So…this brings up the next dilemma. Do I get the instant gratification with my ebook and then turn around and purchase the hard copy to have and to hold? And what about those extra favorite books you want to share with friends? Will you get them back? Will they be in the same condition? Probably not! So, I feel the need to purchase those books in used paperback…to share. If I loose those books I still have my copy (or two). Is there any wonder where the gray hairs come from?

Kris said...

Tracy: You think I'm a nutty, toffee flavoured dork?? Okaay.

JenB: Trade paperback! These I do admit to buying. *hangs head in shame* It's not my fault though. It's because for some unknown reason it seems to take longer for trade-to-mass than it does from hard cover-to-mass. My patience can only last so long.

BTW, I bow to your resolve. If only.

Lea: Thanks and so glad to see another person in the 'we hate it when publishers do that in the middle of a series' club. As I see that exactly the same thing happened to Katie, I think the Acheron hard cover shall from here on in be known as 'The Destroyer'. Oh wait... ;)

Katie: Another believer! It's definitely a conspiracy. No question. I am also convinced the publishers are in league with the bookcase makers. After all, how else do you explain adjustable shelves. HA!

As to Acheron, see my comment to Lea. When people come to borrow books from me, I use the A hard cover as a navigation point in my shelves. Sticks out like a friggin mile. *still pouting*

Kris said...

LOL, Chris. We are definitely soul sisters!

I'm not sure whether to love you all or hate you for your stories telling me that you sometimes get the ebook first and then wait for the mass paperback to come out before buying a print copy. A couple of comments ago I was wavering about owning two copies of a book, but now... I'm definitely hanging over the edge with only my bank account holding me back. :)

I LOVE the way ebooks alphabetise themselves too! I have them shelved under genre, then author, and also series. It looks sooo pretty. *sigh*

After a VERY traumatic experience as a child when I lent my Pippi Longstockings to a friend and they came back in PIECES!, I now only let a select few (the Mumma, the BF and my cousin) borrow my books. They know if there is so much as a mark on them I will never EVER speak to them again and that only I can return books to my shelves. No one else puts them back correctly.

sula said...

Oh yes, I hates them, precious! But I have a solution. I don't buy them. Ever. For any author. No way, no how. The no-buy policy makes it easier to say no and not get tempted into squandering my hard-earned cash on one book when I could have three or four.

Kris said...

Sula, I wish I could say I don't succumb to the temptation, but I cannot deny the vastness of bookshelf space that Acheron inhabits. *ponders* I wonder if hypnotism will work.

Mary M. said...

Lol. I like books as objects and I like them to look as perfect as possible, so as it's hard to keep a paperback in good condition if you re-read it regularly, I *love* hardcovers. You just take off the dust jacket, you can carry it around without conspicuous-looking pictures on the cover, and you can be as hard or careless as you want with it it won't be break and will look as good as new when you put the DJ back on. That's just the best you can get. Whenevr I have teh money, and if I know for sure the book is good (because I've read it before, or it's a series in which I loved the other books), I buy it hardcover. Dresden Files, Janet Evanovich, Karen Marie Moning, Suzanne Brockmann, I have most of them in HC.

However, I have a bit of an OCD myself so yes, it pisses me of too when a series switches to HC in the middle of a series. I shelve PBs and HCs in different bookcases so I have to split series - I wouldn't be able to stand the disruption in my even rows of books, not to mention the fact that it would take off room to shelve more books in the space above the row. It would be good for my wallet if I could wait for the PB version, but I'm too impatient for that. Rather, a series turning hardcover usually makes me want to re-buy the first books in the series as hardcovers too. *sigh*

Kris said...

Mary, we are sad, sad people. :( There is probably a support group for readers with OCD specific to bookshelves... somewhere. Perhaps we should start our own. We could call it 'OCD BS'.

Mary M. said...

You want something sadder? I classify my books by color. I have black shelves, white shelves, and multicolored shelves arranged in a gradent of colors. My Judith McNaught books start with dark blue on the left, then medium blue, lilac, pale blue, pale pink, darker pink, light orange, nude and coral. Plus a light green one on the very right that I didn't know where to put. This is for the English books. My French books have their own white shelves, black shelves and red shelves. *hides head in hands*

it dos make for very pretty shelves though :-D

Kris said...

Pretty rainbow shelves, Mary. ROFL. Damn, I need to stop reading spec fiction so that I can do this. Bloody black covers. *mutter, mutter*

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