Pondering hardcovers vs paperbacks

I've been thinking about this post about hardcovers that I found via Bookninja.
Here’s why I know a book industry era has come to an end: One publisher after another keeps referring to hardcover books as “promotional copies for the paperback edition.”

Yes, hardcover books are selling so poorly that their only use for publishers is to get reviews, book interviews for the author and pave the way for a trade paperback edition that the real audience can afford.


A larger truth, however, is that mid-list and serious literary books by lesser-known authors rarely find their audience in hardcover. Those adventurous readers who watch and clip reviews, look for new voices and love heated book-group discussions most often wait for the paperback, and who can blame them? The cost of a hardcover book after sales tax is about $30. The cost of a trade paperback after sales tax is about $15.

Pat Holt makes some good points in her post. I can't even begin to count how many books I've waited for to come out in paperback because I didn't want to pay for the hardcover. And let's not get into how much I loathe it when books in a series were only released as paperback then suddenly shift to a hardcover release around book three or four. (Really. Let's not.)

Paperbacks outnumber hardcovers on my shelves. Even among the hardcovers I couldn't even begin to guess how many of the hardcovers I paid full price for. I know it's not too darned many. I'd wager a guess that of those that I paid full price for 95% of those are from book festivals. If I bought them online (as I often do) they were discounted, even if on the release day. Many others were picked up from the bargain table. (Can we say remaindered?)  I'm very unlikely to take a chance on a new author in hardcover unless I'm getting it from the library. It does happen though - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is a good example (excellent reviews from bloggers who had gotten early copies absolutely influenced that though, as did the topic).

I get a better bang for my buck with paperbacks. If I'm going into a bookstore with $100 burning a hole in my pocket and I'm staying away from the sales/bargain tables I'll get a lot more books if I buy paperbacks instead of hardcovers. It's not like the hardcovers are only going to be hardcovers - I know they'll be coming out in paperback eventually. I just have to be patient. This, of course, goes out the window if it's a book I really, really want.

Since I wrote that post on BlogHer about how much money I saved by using the library I find I'm even more tightfisted with my book money. Probably because even though I knew the library saved me a bunch of money once you see that actual amount staring you in the face you cannot forget it. I've purchased very few new books since then. I have, however, gone nuts in a thrift store or two when I found some old YA books for about fifty cents each (awesome). Thrift stores aside my impulse book buying has almost stopped. If that is how much money I save by USING the library I really don't want to have to calculate how much money I'm NOT saving when I DON'T use the library. (Scary!)

But when I love a book, truly love it and want to keep it on my shelf for all of time so I can revisit it regularly, I need hardcover. Even if I already own in paperback. Generally speaking, I don't know if I need it in hardcover until I've read it. A paperback usually won't hold up to the test of time and rereading quite the same way. I don't go out of my way to buy the paperback if I already own the hardcover though, unless I'm buying it as gift for someone.

I'm curious. Are you a hardcover person? Paperback person? A mix? Are there books that you just have to have in hardcover? Does the cost of hardcovers influence the paperback/hardcover decision? I wanna know!