Blog Hop: To Buy or Not to Buy

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Do you buy all your books? If yes, do you keep them all? If no, where do you source them?

I buy almost none of my books.  Virtually everything I read comes from my local library.  I’ve said for years that I could never afford my book habit if I had to actually pay for my books.  Last year I read around a hundred books, and it was a serious drop-off from most years.

Shall we run some math?  I’d guess at least a third of what I read last year were audiobooks, which are typically more expensive than print ones.  So let’s say I got really good used book deals on the paper books and spent an average of $5 per book.  If I went the ebook route, I think that’s still realistic.  Audiobooks, I think we have to say $15 to be even faintly plausible.  So that’s…[calculator on my phone]…approximately $1,000.  I could buy a signed L. M. Montgomery book for that.  Let’s assume that a decent number of those paper books were new books I had to buy at higher prices, call it a $15 average for the paper books too, and we’re up to $1,500.  And remember, I’ve typically read twice that many books.  Some are coming off of my own shelves, especially when I’m reading at a higher quantity, but I think we can still conservatively say that a typical year of reading, if purchased, would cost me around $2,500.  That’s most of a trip to England, right there.

So.  I do not buy the books I read, and I remain eternally baffled when book-loving friends tell me they don’t have a library card.  I ❤ my local library.

What books do I buy?  Well, occasionally I wind up at a used bookstore or a library (!) book sale, where I buy books very cheaply, and usually get old favorites or fill out collections I have parts of.  I rarely buy more recently read books, although I will on occasion go back through my favorite books of the year and decide if I need to buy any of them.  What actually happens is that I tend to think, huh, I should buy those three…and don’t get around to it…and add on a few others…and finally when I get an Amazon gift card or something I buy a batch of books at once.  I’m currently in the “I should get around to that” phase for several books I liked very much in the last couple of years.

The thing of it is, I have to really love a book or an author to buy said-book.  I add that author caveat because I do have some authors for whom I basically buy everything, even if the individual book is less beloved.  I own The Golden Road, and a lot of middling Edgar Rice Burroughs books.  Outside of very select authors, I don’t buy books I haven’t already read and loved.  The only recent books I was buying unread and preordered were the gorgeous Fairyland series.

Despite what feels like very little book purchasing, somehow I still have four tall bookcases and not much space on them.  But that’s a lifetime of accumulating books–a lot of childhood books have passed on out, but I still have some.  I haven’t counted in a few years, but I’d guess I own between 700 and 800 books.  Which is only four to five years of reading.  So.

Do you buy the books you read?  If not, do you utilize your library, or get them somewhere else?

4 thoughts on “Blog Hop: To Buy or Not to Buy

  1. I buy hard copies of some authors’ new books.

    I occasionally browse second hand stores for paperbacks and pick up one or two I know I want, and maybe one or two that look interesting. I try to keep hard copies to a minimum though, because my two 7 foot bookcases and one long half-height one are groaning, and the bed is now complaining about the boxes under it with books to go to a good home. I’ve even investigated these online book-buying companies, but they don’t want what I want to give away.

    And then there are the 300 or so books on kindle/iPad….. yes, I have read many of those, but probably not more than about sixty….

    And the library comes to my village once a month, and I pick up one and another I’ve reserved….

    Would people just STOP writing books?

  2. msheehan42

    According to my Goodreads account I own 609 books (could be that there’s one or more that didn’t make it on there). Technically, I own way more than that because I have a number of collected volumes (complete Austen, Borrowers, for example). I have 3, 9ft tall bookcases and one corner case, so space is definitely not the issue. I’m also holding Dan’s Goosebumps books and a select few others, but still, plenty of room to expand.
    I did a major weeding session a few years ago and I resolved to be way more picky about what books I buy and keep. I looked at each book, evaluated my love for it and asked myself the question, “Is this a book that I’m likely to read again at some point?” There were a number of books I had where the answer was, “No, probably not.” You gotta think, tastes change over time too.
    Currently, I have 6 books on my “wish list”. Books that I intend to buy at some point, but am not in a hurry to. I keep an eye out for them whenever I am at a used bookstore or library sale. I believe there are only 2 current authors that I will absolutely pre-order the second they are available (Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books and anything by Rick Riordan). I do, however, keep an active eye out for picture books I really like. If I have kids someday, I want a quality collection. Not big, per se, but a decent selection for kids to choose from.

  3. I rarely buy paper books. I buy multiple e-reader books each month. I like the convenience of buying them that way, and the reduced price (about half for a currently popular book and MUCH less for one that is not so well known – some as low as $2 or $3). I am one of those who does not use the library. I probably should at this point in my life. I didn’t before because I couldn’t necessarily finish a book by the due date, even with a renewal. That is not really a problem now. Like you, I only buy paper books I love and want to keep. I have already read them on my e-reader when I decide to buy them in a more permanent form. We also have limited bookshelf space, so I only buy paper books sparingly and I purge our collection now and then to remove some books that have outlived their usefulness to me/us.

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