Well, now Touchstone is planning on doing some hardcover ARCs. (Most ARCs are more like trade paperbacks.) PW says, "Touchstone/Fireside is rolling out hardcover advance copies of its August 2008 novel, What Happened to Anna K, in an effort to gain attention for the title from booksellers and the press."
According to Touchstone/Fireside executive v-p and publisher Mark Gompertz, the move was "not inexpensive" and
The hardcover is supposed to be enough of a gimmick that it gets folks to read it. And maybe it works, because the publisher told PW it's had a "tremendous" response. My guess it's not the hardcover, per se, just the knowledge that if the company is forking over the money, they expect this to be a big book.
I guess the new hardcovers lack a bar code and are labelled as an ARC. I wonder if collectors (who are kind of a crazy bunch) will consider them more or less collectible.