Buy or Borrow

by Ginger on November 15, 2012

in Entertain Me

There’s a lot from my 2012 To-Do list that I have just given up on in the interest of keeping my sanity. But one thing I am bound and determined to complete is my challenge to read 50 books this year.

It still kind of makes me sad that I have to set that as a goal for myself, because I used to read, easily, double and sometimes triple that every year. But life and family and jobs and tv and work and all that jazz conspire to make things tougher on that front than in the past. So a goal it is, and I’m happy to say I’m on track to make that number (with a little extra to spare). I’ve taken to keeping track of everything in Goodreads, in case you ever want to see what I’m reading and my thoughts on those books–though I am pretty liberal with the stars, just to be forewarned.

One of the things that I started thinking about when I was looking through this list recently is that I am a publisher’s NIGHTMARE (and trust me, the irony of this is not lost on me). Of the 46 books I have read this year, I have probably only bought…8? Maybe 9? The rest, except for one gift, have all been borrowed from friends, or from the library (or a handful from the free book shelf at work).

Had I bought all 46 of those books, I would have spent somewhere between $500 and $1200. In past years, when I’ve averaged more like 100-150 books? We’d have been looking at ranges of $1200-$4000.

And yet, I *KNOW* the value (and costs) of doing a book. I *KNOW* what the business model looks like. I *KNOW* what not buying books does. I deal with it every, single, solitary day in my job. Hell, I spend my days working on ways to make people buy more of the books my company produces, so trust me, I understand. I also know what not buying books does to those books, and those authors, especially those who aren’t the major bestsellers, both in the short and long term.

But even knowing all that, I am also a typical consumer, who is driven by price and my personal budget. I love reading, it is something that sustains me…but my book budget is not up to my book appetite.

The same is true across formats. I rarely buy hardcovers, for one because I dislike the physical act of reading them (hard to hold a 500 page hardcover up while you’re reading in bed) but also because the price tends to make me say “I’ll wait for it in paperback” or “Hmm, wonder how long the wait at the library is.” I’m most likely to buy trade paperbacks, but even $12.95 times a lot of books adds up quickly. And ebooks? Well, I’m not one who thinks ebooks need to be $2.99, but I’m also not going to pay more for the ebook than I would for the physical book. I know why publishers DO that (and it’s annoying), but as a consumer, I hate it just as much as you do.

Part of all of this, of course, has to do with where we are in our financial lives, and where I’d prefer to spend my disposable income. I can already see that, as our disposable income goes up, so does my book purchasing (hello, it’s so easy to buy a book for my Nook in the airport with free wi-fi!). So maybe this is mostly a function of that.

But not entirely.

I don’t know. I’m trying to be better about buying books, particularly when I know they’re not on a bestseller list, but I’ll probably never get to the point where I buy every book I read. Some days that makes me feel like a total hypocrite at work, but it’s the truth.

What about you? Do you buy or borrow most of your books? Am I the only scrooge?

Anne November 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I haven’t been buying books lately, and I feel really guilty about it. Part of it is because buying books really does add up, and part of it is because I’m trying desperately to declutter my life and my bookshelves. Hardcovers are big – they’re heavy to hold up and they take up a lot of bookshelf real estate. Plus, they’re really not ideal for traveling, which is when I do most of my reading. I’d say 90% of the books I buy these days are ebooks. My favorite series is Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, and I buy all of those, but only in mass market paperback. Like I said before, hardcovers are expensive and big, and those don’t come out in trade paperback. Plus, I already have the whole series in mm paperback, and I’m too anal retentive to switch now. Since it takes so long for them to come out in paperback I usually read it from the library first and then buy the paperback when it comes out. There are a few books that I buy in hardcover, usually when it’s an author I really like and want to support (ie Jenny Lawson).

Charleen November 16, 2012 at 6:50 am

Personally I think it’s ridiculous the amount of money some people spend on books. It simply baffles me when people talk about having piles and piles — often in the hundreds — of books they haven’t even read yet. And sure, some of it is probably gifts, but by their own admission much of it is self-purchased. And then they’ll say stuff like, “Well I bought another five books today…” It does seem to be an addiction to some people.

I’ll admit, part of it is jealousy, because I totally wish I had the disposable income to buy more books. It would be freeing to be able to walk through a bookstore and make a couple purchases on a whim, because they look interesting and I’m curious. But, as nice as that image is, it’s not practical. Why should I spend money on something, not knowing if I’ll even enjoy it? Libraries exist for a reason, and I refuse to feel guilty for using them.

That said, when I DO buy a book it usually is the hardcover. I only buy books I’m sure to re-read again and again, and a paperback just doesn’t hold up as well.

erin November 16, 2012 at 8:37 am

If it is an author I know personally or really like, I try to buy from the most direct source possible (rather than amazon, etc). Besides that, I try books out via paperbackswap. If I like them, I will buy them, because I know I will reread. If not, then no harm. I just repost the book to share with others.

Melissa November 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I have never added up how much I spend on books, but it is literally the only thing I will allow myself to spend money on. I buy all of my books (ok, 98%)… but I have criteria: 1) only ebooks, 2) only with a 55% off or more coupon, 3) and from an indie online bookstore. And so far, I’ve been very happy with my purchases each month (no buyers guilt)… and I am one who shares them with you too. hehehe.

Anyway, imagine my freak out when this morning my favorite place to buy ebooks that also allows weekly discounts, is shutting down!!! So your post is timely for me, as now I may have to reassess where all the fun books come from… Wanna start swapping more? 🙂

Natalie the Singingfool November 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm

You are not alone! If I bought every book I read, I’d have to find an alternative to food for sustenance. I generally either go to the library or borrow from friends.
I end up buying a lot of books, though, because often what I want to read isn’t on my library shelves.

clara November 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I love to buy. I buy for other people, but not for me, but then I don’t really buy anything for me. The last time I was employed, though, I made a point of buying a book a month at the awesome bookstore by my work (now closed, sadly) — partly for something to read on my transit commute, and partly because I want to be published someday so I feel like I should support the industry, you know? I also buy the literary journals and try to support writers directly, not just big box book stores…

At the moment, though, I use the library a lot. For me, and for the kids. But I love books. I love book shopping. When I go back to work it is definitely where I will put some of my money. Books and shoes.

Ann Soutter November 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm

We are a family of book lovers, but have thought long and hard about decluttering, and the numerous book shelves are something I look at often (there’s at least 20 book cases in our small house!)

I also love my library, and my Kindle. I try to get as many things as I can through the library, and have been enjoying, for there daily low cost and free ebooks.

Now, all I need is the time to read the 90+ books on my Kindle!

Elizabeth November 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I read well over 100 books a year (thanks insomnia!!), so there’s just no way I’d be willing to pay for all of them, especially when many of the books I start aren’t worth completing. We usually have about 50 books (the max allowed, hah) at a time checked out from the library at any given time, but I do make it a point to spend at least $20 a month on books from local stores. Some months I’ll buy Hannah a few and some months I’ll buy myself something. It’s not a whole lot, and maybe we’ll spend more later, but for now it’s what’s working for us.

Kathleen November 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

The only time I ever buy a book is if I have to read it for book club and the library won’t have it available in time, or if it’s by a favorite author or is a favorite. If I had the budget I’d buy more of the ones I like, but I can’t afford that now.

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