Before I got my Kindle last year, if I happened to see a hardcover book that intrigued me, I knew I'd probably have to wait a year to read it. Most of my book purchases were paperbacks, since they were cheaper and took up less space on my bookshelf. I occasionally got a hardcover book as a gift; more rarely, I broke down and bought the hardcover.
These days, it's a little more complicated. If I'm interested in a book, the first thing I do is try to download a sample for my Kindle. Many books are now available in this format, which is why I have over 120 items in my To Read collection. (I hope to read a few of them next week when I go on a business trip.) Sometimes I have to pre-order the item, which I'll do for favorite authors. Sometimes the ebook comes out after the paper release. I don't mind this too much if I know when the ebook will be available. For example, Wither was released in hardcover earlier this month, but the Kindle version wasn't available until two days ago. I wanted to read the sample before committing to the purchase, but since I knew the release date ahead of time, I didn't mind waiting. Early Tuesday morning, I downloaded the sample and then later purchased the book. However, sometimes it's hard to tell when, or if, a book will be available as an ebook. One book I was hoping to get for my Kindle was Across the Universe. I checked several times for it, but there was no sign of one. Finally I picked it up in hardcover last month. However, after buying Wither, I noticed that Across the Universe was now available for the Kindle. I still haven't had a chance to read it yet (I'm currently plowing through a non-fiction book from my paper pile), and despite the pretty, reversible cover, I would have held out for the ebook. It's not worth selling the hardcover and buying the ebook for, however.
As readers, does it matter to you what format a book is in? Would you wait longer to get a book in a particular format? Where do ebooks fit in the traditional release schedule?
For writers, particularly published writers, does book format matter to you, personally or financially?