I want to pre-order a book that doesn’t exist, but will

Here’s the deal.  I’m read­ing a tril­o­gy by Robin Hobb.  It’s a fan­ta­sy series, yes, and the books are actu­al­ly a bit of a trudge, but sure­ly worth it in the end.  I have the first two in paper­back.  The third—and final—book is now out in hard­cov­er.  I don’t buy hard­cov­er.

So, I would very much like to vis­it on online book retail­er, find the hard­cov­er edi­tion of this book, and check a box that says, “Noti­fy me when this is avail­able in paper­back.”  Sub­mit!  When I get the email, I click on a link, I check out, I have the book, they have my mon­ey.

But nobody does that.  Not Ama­zon, not Bor­ders, not Barnes & Noble.  Now, I under­stand that they can’t actu­al­ly place a pre-order for a book that does not yet exist.  It has­n’t been announced by the pub­lish­er, it does­n’t have an ISBN num­ber, and who knows, maybe they’ll nev­er get around to print­ing a paper­back ver­sion of it.

But chances are (and I’d put them at 99.99%) that this book will even­tu­al­ly show up in paper­back form.  They could offer me the option, with the caveat that I may nev­er get noti­fied.  If any of those three retail­ers had this option, they would have just made a sale.  As it is, I’ll like­ly for­get about it, and maybe see the book on a shelf dur­ing one of my infre­quent vis­its to a phys­i­cal book­store.  And maybe I’ll buy it then, and maybe I won’t.

On a relat­ed note: Bor­ders and B&N both offer lists of books com­ing soon.  But none of these lists are search­able.  Hel­lo?  Of course, Ama­zon does­n’t seem to offer a brows­able Com­ing Soon list, so maybe the oth­er guys aren’t wor­ried.