My Book Buying Experiences and Habits

Common jokes in the book community often center on book buying.

They’re all in good fun, of course, but obviously, they aren’t relatable to everyone! Many people, including myself, don’t buy a bunch of books before finishing unread ones, or have 20+ monthly book hauls. While I’m not going to dive into the consumerism that is definitely rampant in the book community, since that’s an issue that goes beyond books, I wanted to talk about my own personal experiences with book buying!

(Of course, the fact that I am able to read a lot of books without buying them is a privilege!!! I have the choice and the ability to do this, and many people do not—but because I do have a choice, it makes me wonder about why others in the community don’t make that choice too.)

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Screen Shot 2022-03-15 at 2.25.02 PMEvery now and then, I get some comments from people being surprised at how few books I buy. And it makes sense! I’m an American who has access to many English bookstores, I’m not poor, I very clearly like books, and if you look at pictures of my bookshelf (the picture shown is the most recent), it looks like there are lots of books that I might’ve bought for myself! All of these things make me able to buy books, and point toward the idea that I like to buy a lot of books.

In actuality, I really don’t buy many books.

Again, this comes from a place of privilege. I don’t buy a lot of books because I can read many books without purchasing them. For others, buying books may be one of the only ways they can access the books they want to read—and buying them can still be a challenge.

A lot of people are in my position though, where they do have easy access to a lot of free books, and they buy excessive amounts of books anyway. So I wanted to look at why I personally don’t do that, particularly by seeing where I get my books from and what makes me buy a book.

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where I get my books from

  • My library! My library is pretty good at stocking the books that I want to read, and I 100% take advantage of that. Ever since 2020 when the pandemic started, I’ve been taking advantage of Libby especially, so I get to read physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks thanks to my library. So far this year, almost 2/3 of the books I’ve read have been from my library!
  • Publishers—in the past. I haven’t requested an ARC in months and don’t plan to request many in the future, but they used to supply a lot of the books I read! For example, about a fourth of the books I read last year were from publishers.
  • Family and friends! I often don’t really know what to say when people ask me what I want as gifts, so I usually default to books. (Whether it’s a bookstore gift card or actual books!)
  • Usually a smaller portion of books, available for free online. I’ve read webcomics and short stories/novellas online, and occasionally novels from subscription services too!

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what makes me buy a book

  • If I think I’ll really love a book, I’ll buy it! If I suspect it will be a new favorite, 9 times out of 10 I’ll buy it, because I want to own as many of my favorite books as I can. Or, I’ll buy a book if I read and loved it! 
  • If I can’t get a book from my library and I have a very strong desire to read it, I’ll probably buy it. This is just a typical case of demand—if someone can’t access something for free and they really want it, they’ll likely buy it. I’m the same! But the chances of this happening for me are much lower because I have access to so many books already.

I think this is pretty standard criteria, since I’m sure most people would want to buy only books they thought they would love (unless they’re rich enough to waste money on unenjoyable things). So I have the same reasons for wanting to buy books—I just have more reasons to not buy certain/as many books.

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why I don’t buy a lot of books

I don’t buy a lot of things in general, and when I do buy something, I’m very picky. And that extends to books! There have been times where I take 30 minutes trying to decide on a single book to buy. And it’s not just indecisiveness over what I want to get—it’s trying to find a book I want to own, because I often find that I’d be okay just getting them from my library. That whole process is so long and somewhat stressful for me that I just sometimes avoid buying books because of it!

My pickiness with books specifically comes from my desire for the books I buy to be really meaningful to me. I don’t want to own a book I don’t think I’m going to love, or didn’t already love. Why would I want to keep it if it’s something that I didn’t enjoy, especially when i could make room for other books that I actually do enjoy? I have a good idea of my taste in books now, but I also have extremely high standards, which means that I have limited options of which books I think are good enough to own.

I am very lucky to have access to books I can get for free! Namely my library, but again, publishers in the past. These resources enable me to read books without having to actually buy them.

Also, I may not be poor, but I simply do not have the money to buy 100+ books a year. And nor do I have the desire to do that! I would genuinely get overwhelmed buying that many things. I know huge hauls truly makes people happy—they would inspire the exact opposite emotion in me (stress).


shall we chat

again, this isn’t to critique anyone or their buying habits! I truly just wanted to discuss this topic. do you buy lots of books? do you have access to them, where you live? are you picky with the books you buy?

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42 thoughts on “My Book Buying Experiences and Habits

  1. Great post and I loved reading your process for book buying! I feel like book blogging opened up the floodgates to my bank account in a way I wasn’t buying books before… and I am only now starting to course correct. I used to be a lot more discerning about the physical books I bought, usually only favorites and I would typically buy them secondhand. Now I buy new books all the time??? AND DON’T READ THEM. I hate it and want to do better. Making use of my library more and more often, so glad I have a good one available to me!

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  2. I feel pretty much the same about book buying as you! I take full advantage of my local library and have cemented myself as a regular when I go in to pick up holds. As a whole I don’t buy books very often, unless they’re part of a series that I’m reading, or by an author that I love and want to own their books. I have the money to buy books for sure, and I literally work at a bookstore so I have a staff discount, but I find that when I buy books, I don’t read them because there is no sense of urgency to return them. I’m very fortunate that I have a nice library system that gets a lot of the books I want to read, both in print and digitally. Libby sure was a lifesaver during the first months of 2020! Also I read so fast that it wouldn’t make sense for me to buy all the books I read, and of the few books that I do own, I have not reread most. Most of the time I do a purge of my shelves every few months and donate or give away books that I don’t plan on rereading because I need room for my constant cycle of new library titles!

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  3. Ah this is such a great post, I love it so much! As an international blogger reading in English, I don’t have a local library that has the kind of books I want to read, so unfortunately it’s not a option. I’m just like you then (or even worse 😂😂 when it comes to being picky before buying a book! I’m paying more and more attention to the books I want to read and buy, because I really want to love them, especially physical copies.

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