In lieu of an Advance Excitement at a Glance post for November*, I wanted to discuss one particular book buying habit I’ve formed over the past few years. Some might say it’s an addiction, others a compulsion. I personally think it’s a product of working at a bookstore + a literary agency + blogging all happening roughly at once. Nice discounts, free ARCs, and the need to share enthusiasm with the world. Alexa talked about this before, how once she entered the blogging world her book-buying habits amped up.
Well, I’ve definitely noticed this issue in my own home. You know you have a problem when your TBR bookcase is starting to double-spine and double-stack. It’s like solving a really difficult Tetris puzzle when trying to cram one more newly acquired book on there.
There’s a word for that. “Tsundoku” is a Japanese word for books you buy but don’t read. I’d like to point out that I do read books off my TBR bookcase, but the number packed in there is roughly a book a day for about a year.
Why do I buy so many books?
Because the jackets promise greatness? I don’t know! I think a large part of my compulsive buying has to do with my knowledge of the industry. The whole “when you see it, buy it” philosophy in retail rings so true with bookstores. Unless it’s constantly selling as front- or mid-list, the majority of new releases will end up in back-list and have to be ordered online or from the warehouse. I don’t want to do that. Call me lazy, call me crazy, but I do not like waiting for books!
But why do I buy books when I know I don’t have the space for them? It’s not easy for me to part with books, read or unread. If I don’t enjoy a purchased book enough to keep it, I automatically donate it or resell it. The books I keep are ones I want to read again, books that meant something to me at a certain time in my life. They’re like photo albums: full of memories. So when an unread book is on my bookcase, I’ve already read enough reviews about it, read the jacket enough throughout the year to confirm my potential enjoyment, that I have difficulty weeding those out, too.
(Hmm…I really ought to join Alexa and Hannah’s Picky Pledge. Or adopt Kelly’s TBR Culling method.)
Why do I collect editions?
Many of you already know I collect Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and all the Austen novels. I’ve started collecting Kate Morton, The Night Circus, Laini Taylor, and Anne Blankman as well. When a book means something to me — I love the series, I enjoyed the writing, I read it at a time when I absolutely needed that book — I will look up other editions. If any of them are attractive, I tend to start buying them and creating lists. It just…happens.
Brontës and Austen are classics. They’re brilliant works of fiction, and each mean something to me that other classics do not. And because they’re classics, there are new editions from every publisher imaginable all the time! If I’m on the hunt for an excellent hardcover, a rare copy, a particular imprint, or a unique printing of one with illustrations, I will turn it into a game when I walk into bookstores (chain, used, rare, independent): which edition will I find today?
Recent publications with varying focus. Sometimes publishers have such different ideas on what the cover of a book should look like that I can’t help but agree with all of them. Night Circus is an excellent example of this. The hardcover and paperback US editions are different from one another, but still have that black, white, and red theme. Look at the covers around the world and they all carry that color scheme, but focus on different aspects of the story, while still using a paper-doll-esque look. It’s so intricate and exquisite! I want them all!
Harry Potter. Need I say more? There are so many cool editions from all over the world! My bank account would cry if I collected them all, so I mostly stick to US and UK editions of anniversary sets, cool covers, or neat illustrations.
What about galleys and completed copies?
My purchasing habit when it came to reading an eARC was rather simple: if I really enjoyed it, I would buy the physical copy when it came out. About half the eARCs I’ve read ended up on my bookcases. That’s a lot of hardcovers!
But what about physical ARCs? I came across this issue shortly after attending BEA. Several of the galleys weren’t in their final editing stages, so having the final copy would be great. But then again, the essence of the story is still there, galley or barcoded copy. Why not save money and keep the galley as is, start a collection of that (in a weird way)? Then again, support the author and buy the finished copy, right?
What do you do after you’ve read an ARC, galley or digital? Do you even buy the final edition at all? If you buy the final edition, do you wait another year or so for the paperback? Or, if you’re even more of a bargain hunter, do you wait to find it in a used bookstore or at a heavily discounted price? (Can you tell I’m trying to figure out what I should do with my galley ARCs? *wink*)
What do you do?
How do you make your purchasing decisions? Do we share similar buying habits? Are our thought processes similar or vastly different? Leave a comment and share your thoughts! Part of me wants to know I’m not the only one, and part of me wants to fling myself into another’s method to form a new
and healthier purchasing habit!
*In case you were interested, I’m looking forward to the publication of Da Vinci’s Tiger, Dangerous Lies, and Until We Meet Again. Have you read these? Which books are you looking forward to in November?
7 thoughts on “Book Buying Habits”
I was doing so good this year using the library and noting the books I wanted to purchase at a later date (and lower cost). Then I found bookoutlet. 65 books in two months. To be fair, some of them are books I had noted as to purchase later, but others were just inexpensive and sounded great. Or really pretty.
But I’m definitely with you, if I’m in the mood for something I’m in the mood for it NOW, if I wait two days for it to ship I may not be in the mood for it anymore. I also reread and I love being able to lend books when I recommend them. I’ll be fighting book overflow for the rest of my life.
BOOK OUTLET. It’s both a dream and a curse. More bang for your buck, but at the same time…did you really need to buy them? (YES.)
“I’ll be fighting book overflow for the rest of my life.” Truth. Also, best kind of addiction 😉
Alexa S. (@alexalovesbooks)
I was thinking about what makes up majority of my purchases lately, and it is (and has always been) books. I’m not much for buying clothes or household decor or shoes or anything; books always take top priority. I wish I could explain why I buy so many books, but suffice it to say, it’s borne of a genuine, deep love of stories and always wanting to find stories that will transport and challenge and educate and entertain me.
That having been said, thanks to the Picky Pledge, I’ve gotten way pickier about actually purchasing books! I still buy them, as the point of the pledge is not to prevent me from buying things, but to actually help me choose them better, to streamline the acquisitions, if you will. And it has worked! Most of the things I’ve bought this year are a) books in series that I’m majorly excited for, b) books from authors I absolutely adore and am 99.9% confident I’ll love or c) finished copies of books I’ve gotten to read in review. It’s very rare that I’ll buy a book on a whim at all anymore, which is great for my wallet AND for my TBR.
I’ve also been culling regularly. I’ve turned it into a seasonal activity; every time the season changes, I go through my shelves (TBR in particular) and weed out things that I’m no longer interested in reading, or don’t see myself reading within a year. These books go to new homes (with some of my friends or donated to libraries), so I don’t feel too bad about letting them go. It’s almost like a reality check for me, because I realize how many books I’ve acquired in the years since I started blogging and how it’s not necessarily because I want to/will read them right away. It’s tough (especially when there’s always the POTENTIAL for a book to blow my mind), but I remind myself that I always have access to the library system AND that I can find/borrow/buy it again if I discover I want to read it a year from now. It’s definitely helped our apartment feel less cluttered, and I feel less pressure when I think of my TBR!
I collect editions too, honestly, though I’m limiting it to the first Harry Potter book (though I do want a new set), the Throne of Glass series and fairy tale books. I love the variety of editions and covers, and I really think it’s a cool thing to build a collection. I just try not to let it get too out of hand, and pick based on covers most of the time 🙂
And, as for ARCs, it really depends. I only buy the books that are 4 stars and up, and even then, I only purchase them if I’m sure to want to reread them at some point in the future. I think that’s now become the deciding factor for me – whether or not I’ll reread a book. Because why would I want to buy a copy of a book to keep when I don’t plan on revisiting it?
(This is a long comment, I know. Sorry, not really sorry? I had a lot of thoughts!)
Do NOT apologize! I’m so glad you wrote this novel. It’s proof that we all have our methods, for various reasons, and we put a lot of thought into our purchases.
There’s always the POTENTIAL — yes! It makes culling a TBR pile difficult. But it’s not as if the book will be completely gone. We have so many outlets now to find that book again, if we really wanted it.
“Because why would I want to buy a copy of a book to keep when I don’t plan on revisiting it?” THIS. That’s exactly how I feel about digital ARCs. The printed galleys, though, I’m always still on the fence.
This is a story of my life that lead me to buy books.
When I was a child, my family lived near a library. My brother and I used to sit between the shelves, crouching in the corner and read a book. It’s not a “real” public library. It’s school library, but nobody really borrows book from there. Maybe because our village is rather poor and the reading interest of the people is low. So it’s kinda like our private library. It doesn’t offer much selections of book, but at least we could read. We’re far from the city, we didn’t have bookstore that sells story book in that city. If we want to buy a novel, we must at least travel about 500 km from home. And that time, internet wasn’t so popular in my place. So the library was much a savior for us.
When I moved to city for college, it’s a whole new world for me. Along the road to my campus, there are so many book stalls, the small one, with wide varieties of secondhand books or new. There’s also a big bookstore in the mall. Or if I took a bus ride about thirty minutes to Bandung, there are so many major bookstores waiting for me. There’s also online bookstore. That’s when I started to buy books. Because it’s easier to buy books here. Because pretty much I didn’t buy any book in my childhood. So it’s kinda a revenge for me hahahaha. And I can’t stop. Really, but who could, tho?
A revenge, haha. It’s as if you’re making up for all the lost years!
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