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Why Buy? – Booking Through Thursday

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This week’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

I’m a book buyer. I love the feel of a brand new book in my hands. I love to be the first person to crack open a book. And these days, I love the idea of supporting the authors I love in a slagging economy.

Obvs, I can’t keep all the books I buy. So my all time favoritest books sit on my shelves, their cracked spines a reminder of the wonder I felt while read the words encased in the binding. It’s just a personal preference to read brand new books.

But the question remains, Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free? My take: It’s all about choices. I have one purse that cost me $20 three years ago. I buy maybe  one new pair of shoes a year. I’m not a clothes horse. I choose to spend my money on books. Some people spend it on drugs, maybe prostitutes, but me, I like a good old-fashioned book. That’s my drug of choice.

(I think the last two sentences reflect my having recently finished Sedaris’ book.)

I just discovered the library, though. It’s not that I didn’t know about it before, but I’d forgotten there’s all these hardcovers there that I can borrrow FOR FREE. So while I’ll be asking for books and gift cards to book stores for Christmas, I’m starting to take advantage of the fact that I can read a book and give it back and that may be best because I have one more book in my brain and one less book in my house.

But mostly, I like supporting the authors. Which is why, if at all possible, if I do a giveaway, I buy the book myself instead of asking the publisher or author for an extra copy. I don’t always have the money to do that, but if I loved a book enough, that seems to be the best compliment I can give an author: not only did I love your book, but I loved your book so much that I’m buying an extra copy so that I can put it in the hands of someone else who will like it as well.

Do you buy books?

| Tags: , , , 39 comments »

39 Responses to “Why Buy? – Booking Through Thursday”

  1. gautami tripathy

    If we did not buy how would the author survive? I am thinking of publishing my poetry (yes, I do have a poetry blog!), and no one bought my book, why would I even think of it.

    So I am all for buying!

    Must buy!

    [Reply]

  2. Alyce

    I used to buy more new books before we had kids (and we were a two income family then). Now I only buy a book if I know I’m going to love it. Usually this means it’s something I’ve already read, or is written by a favorite author.

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  3. normalslife

    I buy. I’m trying to go to the library (it would help if I found out where the library actually is), but I kind of don’t have time for anything but Amazon. Usually, I buy used because I’m poor and believe in recycling. Also, I’m terribly hard on books and so buying a new book is kind of a waste of paste.

    I know none of these things support the author, except that I often review the book if I like it, which might cause others to buy new. Or am I just justifying my behavior?

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  4. JLS Hall

    I do buy books – just love owning them. But I also like borrowing from the library when I can – free public libraries are one of our greatest national assets. Still, there’s nothing like seeing those books on your shelves and knowing you don’t have to return them to anyone!

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  5. bybee

    I’m a special case. I moved to Korea, blithely assuming that the libraries would all have English-language sections. Wronnggggg! So…no library. Hell with that; I’m building my own!

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  6. Betty

    I do the same thing! About choices, I mean. I hardly ever buy new clothes, shoes, or bags, I spend all my money on food and books. I’m actually really lucky my mum wears the same size as I do and she loves shopping, so I just borrow her clothes! LOL!

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  7. Sally

    I prefer spending on books rather than clothes. Here’s my answer:
    http://bookcritiques.blogspot.com/

    [Reply]

  8. BooksPlease

    I’d rather buy books as well. I like the feel of new books and like you I like to see evidence they’ve been read! I do borrow books as well, but often haven’t finished reading them when it’s time to return them to the library.

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  9. Jennifer

    I borrow first, then buy if I loved it enough to ‘need’ my own copy. I like your choices approach. =)

    [Reply]

  10. Sheri

    I get what you mean about budgeting for what you love. And, I agree with supporting the authors!

    Here’s my answer:
    http://anovelmenagerie.com/ghost/2008/11/13/why-do-we-buy-books/

    [Reply]

  11. Janet

    Great answer, and I can relate — especially to your point about consumer choices, and how we buy what really matters to us. (I have one purse too, 8 years old.)

    [Reply]

  12. Janet

    I can relate — especially to your point about consumer choices, and how we buy what really matters to us. (I have one purse too, 8 years old.)

    [Reply]

  13. Janet

    Wierd… My comment wouldn’t go through, and wordpress told me it was a duplicate comment. (?) So I deleted a phrase and both went through…

    WordPress doesn’t like me! 😉

    [Reply]

  14. bermudaonion

    I actually buy more books now that I get ARCs. For one thing, I’ve found that library books don’t always come at times that are convenient for me and for another, like you, I want to support the authors and publishers.

    [Reply]

  15. mellymel

    Absolutely – buy. I have a healthy library habit also. If I’m really unsure – I’ll borrow. But if I’ve read one I liked and didn’t own, I’ll buy it.
    I like to loan them out too…
    I can’t explain why I buy – but just as some are comforted by having their favorite stuffed animal or luxurious blankets, I’m comforted by surrounding myself with favorite books.

    [Reply]

  16. Beth F

    I’m with you. I’d rather have books than new clothes!

    [Reply]

  17. debbie

    We have bought thousands of books over the years and I don’t regret it at all. When the kids are bored, they wander around looking at the shelves until something calls to them. They couldn’t do this if we didn’t own them. We are also huge utilizers of the library.

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  18. Christine

    I actually prefer used books. I like the idea that I’m not the first to read a book — that, however tenuous, I have a connection to other readers through it. And I love finding the occasional gem in used books: dedications, bus transfers, photographs, scraps of poetry…

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  19. Becca

    You make a very good point about consumer choice – certainly books are a much more lasting purchase than shoes and purses! at least for me 🙂

    [Reply]

  20. Callista

    You BUY the books for giveaways? Wow I wish I could do that. I can’t even send out copies given to me through publishers. I can only hold a giveaway if the author or publisher agrees to ship the books.

    [Reply]

  21. Chris@bookarama

    I do buy, but mostly used.

    [Reply]

  22. The Social Frog

    Hi Trish,
    I have to agree with you. And I did not even think about the fact that me buying is helping support an author! I like that also 🙂

    [Reply]

  23. feener

    i too just discovered teh library and loving it. FREE screams at me during this economy. however, i still love the idea of a new book and will still be buying books …..just not as often

    [Reply]

  24. Bluestocking

    I don’t what I’ll do with all my books. I call book buying my substance abuse problem.

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  25. CeeCee

    Great answer! I just have to buy books. I can pass a shoe store but not a book store. I go straight to the books on sale these days.

    [Reply]

  26. Ti

    I buy all the time but I only buy books that I know I will love. I know that’s hard to determine before reading them but books from authors that I have enjoyed in the past or books that I want to hand down to my kids.

    I almost never buy non-fiction. If my book club picks a non-fiction pick, I always order it from the library.

    [Reply]

  27. Susan B. Evans

    I love books! And I’ll take ’em wherever I can get ’em!

    [Reply]

  28. Jeane

    I like that line “I have one more book in my brain and one less book in my house”. I’ve got about 400 books now and my husband groans when I want to add another bookshelf! So I use the library a lot, and only buy (usually secondhand) the books I know are keepers, that I’ll read again.

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  29. Jessica

    As an assistant in a library, I always borrow. I also like the idea of being able to try all different kinds of books and not feeling like I wasted my money when I give up on a book a few chapters in. However, I do own a few books. Mostly, books that I couldn’t wait to read and some signed copies when I went to meet an author.

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  30. Dawn

    We use the library A LOT, but we also have a houseful of books that we own.

    As I said in my post, books are my vice!

    [Reply]

  31. Mary Beth

    I would so much rather spend my money on books than on clothes. I do like buying used books when I find booksales because, when I find a name in the flyleaf, I try to imagine who owned it before me. Will I love it as much as they did?

    [Reply]

  32. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    Yep, I buy books. Not as many as I used to, since we’re a little overwhelmed, here, but I feel the same way you do. I like supporting authors and I’m not much of a girly girl. I don’t spend much on purses, shoes, etc. I’ve never had my nails done (mostly because they break at the slightest pressure — hate that). Books are my sin and my joy.

    [Reply]

  33. Lisa

    Books are my sinful indulgence. I don’t remember the last time I bought clothes or a pair of shoes. I mean, we have to prioritize, right.

    [Reply]

  34. Kat

    There’s something about really having a book for yourself instead of only for a few days. 🙂

    My take on “Why Buy?”

    [Reply]

  35. Kiki

    I love books–I buy them when I love them, or if it is an author I’m devoted to. I work in a book store, so I get a (small) discount, but they are still a luxury item, as far as I’m concerned. I enter a lot of contests and am part of the Amazon Vine program, so I get a lot of free books and ARCs.

    Books are my life, I’ll always choose books over clothes, shoes, etc. I love the library, and I go every couple of weeks, more in the summer when the kids are out of school–we all need lots to read! I have been a library goer all my life.

    I am in three book groups, so I will consider purchasing paperback (mass market or trade) if I can’t get it from the library fast enough. BTW–lots of classics are available really cheaply–like 5.99-8.99 a pop(a bargain!) for EM Forster (I love him) Sinclair Lewis, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, etc.

    I also purchase a lot of used books from my library–they have a used book store and I will also go to the thrift store just to check out the books. What people throw away-shocking!

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  36. Veens

    Thats a neat thing to do!
    I really did notice that you buy your books for giveaway, when I read the last giveaway 🙂

    That’s seriously a very kind thing.

    I buy all my books from flipkart.com! I dnt think i have a cool library here, but i m trying to find out 🙂

    [Reply]

  37. George L.

    I buy some and borrow some. I know it makes more sense to borrow, but it is nice to have some ownership. I am much more likely to buy a non-fiction book, with the excuse that I’ll use it as a reference sometime. However, I have a few fiction authors I’m dedicated to and will always buy them.
    My wife is always giving me a hard time about my books, mostly that there are too many in our small house. But I often view them as a sort of trophy, an accomplishment, a collection to be proud of like any other collectible. She is not much of a reader, so she doesn’t appreciate the same way I do.

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  38. Tina Kubala

    If I could afford it, I would buy new books to support authors. For the time being, I support them with readership and word of mouth alone.

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  39. Rhonda

    Great question! Yesterday I picked up the new Wally Lamb book and thought “Hmmm… I’m on the waitlist at the library, and will probably have it ready there before I get to it if I buy it, but…… I LOVE Wally Lamb, and so I found myself tucking it under my arm and headed to the checkout. On the way, I grabbed a new cozy mystery off the “New In Paperback” display!

    So! Why do I buy? To support the author, to get the book NOW, or to have it here ready for me when I’m ready to read it.

    [Reply]

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