Sorry for the lack of a post earlier this month — I was, at the time, scrambling to finish a draft and send it away before the approaching deadline made my head explode. (Funny, how internally-set deadlines are worse for me than external ones.) But now that’s off and away, I can step away from one fictional world (and immediately start tinkering in a new one), and, having sent the manuscript off at the end of last week, I can finally relax . . .
. . . just in time for the whole Macmillan/Amazon debacle.
A lot of people have already written more cogent and informed posts on the subject, and at the moment it appears that the wrangling stage has passed. But because some of this centered on what the two different companies wanted to charge for eBooks, it’s got me thinking about a side tangent. (Yes, I do this a lot — grab a marginally-relevant idea and run with it, maybe knitting it back into the original problem later on.)
Specifically: what makes you willing to spend more money on a book?
For a long time I refused to buy hardcovers — not because of the price, but because I was moving a lot, and every large heavy book I bought would be one more large heavy book that I’d have to pack, carry, and unpack. Not to mention the everpresent problem of shelf space.
Even then, though, I’d shell out money for certain hardcovers when they came out. Usually it was for one of two reasons: I’d been craving the next in a series and didn’t have the patience to wait at the library (or beg whatever friend had bought the book and then emailed me to gloat), or I’d fallen for an author’s style and trusted this new book to be worth price and weight both.
Now that I’m a little more settled and have more discretionary income, I’m more likely to pay more for a book regardless of whether it’ll fit in another box (or even on the shelves…again). But there’s a weird sort of mental calculus that comes into play when deciding whether to buy the hardcover/paperback/trade paperback, and I’m not entirely sure what feeds into it.
For example, I’ll buy manga even after I’ve read the entire series online, so the excuse of ”must know what happens next!” that feeds my series-buying doesn’t enter into it. I could say that it’s a desire to give my business to this author in gratitude for her work, but somehow I doubt that sort of noble impulse is more than a later rationalization.
Some of it has to do with how familiar I am with the author’s work, how likely I am to reread this book (very likely, most of the time) and whether I’ve been wanting more in this series. For books by an author whose work I love and whose style I know I’ll come back to repeatedly, I’ll shell out full hardcover price — and it’s possible I’d even pay more. For books that I loan out again and again, I’ll buy more than one copy, just so when I get the urge to read it I won’t have to figure out which of my friends currently has it. (I’ll only do this with paperbacks, though.)
What about you? What makes you wait for the paperback, purchase the hardcover, go for the deluxe foil-stamped limited edition? Hell, what makes you more likely to wait at the library or pick it up used? And if you’ve started at the library or used book store, what will make you buy a new copy?