Right, with that suitably melodramatic title in place let us begin. I remember a time, not too long ago, when publishers offered their customers a choice. Paperback or Hardcover. The paperback was released first and then after a while a 'collectors' edition in hardcover was offered to those who wanted it.
I'm not certain when this changed but what's happening at the moment is, when you look at it, rather disgraceful. The choice is now, hardcover or wait a year until they release the paperback. I'm not certain of the markup on hardcover releases but I suspect that the publishers make more money from them than the paperbacks and so the readers are forced to either buy the big, cumbersome and expensive hardcover or wait a long time to read their favourite author's latest literary masterpiece.
I'm certain that this is a relatively recent phenomena because when I bought the earliest books in my favourite series they were only available in paperback and so my collection took that form. Now I have to wait a year to get the next in the series in the same format.
I have it on good authority that people are generally reading less as evidenced by book stores closing at a disturbing rate. I suspect that this is largely because 'high street' bookstores can't compete with the likes of Amazon and co. but basically people are looking elsewhere for their entertainment. Maybe it's just me but a paperback is a far more convenient thing to both buy and carry with you as well as costing a whole lot less. So why would publishers limit your options to big, bulky and above all expensive hardbacks or nothing...for a while? The first rule of business, I would think, is 'make it easy for people to give you their money'.
So, publishers, make both hardcover and paperback available together. Those that like the size and importance that a hardback book conveys will buy that and those of us who prefer the smaller more convenient paperback will buy that. Make it easier for me to give you my money. Don't make me wait a year in the hope of forcing the sale of something I just don't want!