On buying books: hardcover vs. paperback

Cherie Priest posted today about her new release–happy book birthday, ! Her post relates to several things I’ve been hearing lately, so I thought I’d put them all together in one goulash of a post.
Laurie Halse Anderson () and other authors are encouraging people to give books for Christmas and other holiday gifts. As their graphic says, books are "Longer lasting than a fruitcake, cheaper than a flat screen, and more fun than a partridge in a pear tree." Consider in your holiday gift-giving to give books.
As you’re considering this, I’d also like to point out that a lot of authors are having a hard time this time of year. Sales dropping off directly affects their income, and many authors have to cut back on things like health insurance, home repairs, and other vital necessities. Scalzi has posted a fundraiser for one such author who was in danger of losing her house–thankfully, people banded together and raised enough money not only for her mortgage payment, but also to help fix her sewer system, which was badly in need of repair. (People are so good to each other in hard times! I recognize that’s not always the case, but when it is, it’s amazing.)
So when you go off to buy a book, seriously consider whether you can fit a hardcover book (or two or three or more) into your budget. Hardcovers are often the place that publishers judge an author’s sales, not to mention that sales within the first few week’s of a hardcover book’s lifetime will determine whether that book stays on chain bookstores’ shelves–which determines whether that author will earn out their advance, be able to pay the bills, etc. etc.
If all you can afford is a paperback or checking the book out from the library, that’s okay. Most authors I talk to would rather have someone read their book than not! But if you do have the money in your budget and would like to support the author being able to write more books, think about getting the hardcover.
For more information on how a hardcover vs. a paperback affects an author’s bottom line, see Brandon Sanderson’s post on the subject. A small sampling:

Well, lets look at the 20,000 people up above who bought that paperback book. If half of them checked it out at the library, and the other half bought the book from Amazon in hardback, the hardback would sell 10,000 copies. (And libraries would order more, but that’s another story.)
Anyway, assuming the royalty for that hardback jumps up at 5000, those same twenty thousand readers have spent roughly the same amount of money as they otherwise would have, yet they would have paid the author $28,000 instead of $10,000. Plus, instead of two worn paperbacks, they have a very nice hardback that will last them for a while. 28k isn’t a huge amount of money, particularly once agent fees and taxes come out, but it’s the beginning of a livable income. Add on some foreign sales, and things start to look bright–particularly for a writer, who is likely doing what he or she loves to do.

Note that Brandon uses some simplified numbers, and doesn’t take into account that publishers *do* give bulk purchasers like Amazon a discount (though they still pay the author the same royalty)–oftentimes, independents can buy a book off Amazon for cheaper than they can get it from the publisher–but he makes some good points. This is where Indiebound comes in–getting a hardcover
from the independents supports a much more sustainable business model, in stores where you can find salespeople who actually know the books they’re selling. But that’s another discussion altogether, and I digress.
Anyway, just some food for thought about possibly making our money stretch further and supporting the artists who make the books we love at the same time.