“Thoughts On” is a feature on thewasofshall where I give my (often rambling) thoughts on a topic relevant to reading, literature, or the book business. To see previous (and future) topics, click here.
Episode 8 of Book Riot‘s podcast Dear Book Nerd brought up some great questions about book buying, book abstaining, and guilt over where (and how) reader’s find and read new literature. As a librarian, I am a strong supporter of promoting the services and goods libraries allow, one of which is FREE BOOKS (I really don’t know how to underscore this more). I’m also, however, an avid reader, and most of the books I read are often new releases from living authors. And these authors are trying to make writing a full-time job—which means they need reader support in the form of books sold to make that happen.
So what’s a girl to do?
I often abstain from buying new books simply because of the cost. $20.00 + per book is just too much for me to spend on an item that I will most likely only read only once or twice. (Maybe more.) So, these are the books that I’d most likely borrow from the library. I have no problem buying new books on sale, though, so if this particular title was from an author I already liked (and knew I’d continue to like), I might buy it if I could find a good sale somewhere. (E.g., Barnes & Noble often discounts new releases 30-40% the month they come out.)
Add to this the fact that I also like supporting brick and mortar stores—places that might be independent businesses or trying to stay profitable (and relevant) in the advent of online booksellers and e-books. Most of the time, actually buying books depends on circumstance—am I in Target and there’s a sale on Cartwheel for a specific genre or author I like? Do I have time to stop into Used Book Superstore and browse? Is there a library book sale going on? Does Barnes & Noble have something relevant in the clearance section? (Etc.)
Purchasing books is not part of a routine, nor do I specifically set aside a book buying budget. (Although maybe I should.) I just get so much pleasure from browsing and seeing familiar titles in-store that oftentimes choosing to take one home is pure impulse. Could I give more thought to supporting authors and the books they write? Absolutely. Will I do so monetarily? Probably not. Sometimes, it all boils down to supporting authors in other ways—such as raving in one of my video reviews, talking them up to friends and family, or actually purchasing a copy of one of their books for my library (because, yo, I can do that). Maybe it’s as small a gesture as following them on Twitter and just saying out to the world, “Man, your book was awesome.”
Unfortunately, there’s no clear right answer about what book-buying circumstances trump others—and I think that Dear Book Nerd doesn’t try to answer the handful of questions that popped up from this one listener’s inquiry. (Although they did a pretty awesome job trying.) There’s just, perhaps, an unanswerable question best left in flux.
Have your own thoughts on book buying? Let me know!