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Book Buying Habits (Another meme)

April 25, 2017

I really don’t like doing memes – except for the Six Degrees of Separation to which I’ve become addicted. But when I came across this Book Buying Habits one via Lisa (ANZLitLovers) and Karen (Booker Talk), I decided it would be a good opportunity to explain myself, so here goes …

1. Where do you buy your books?

Muse bookshop

Muse (Cafe and Bookshop)

I prefer independent bookshops, of which we have a few in my city, including Muse (a wonderful bookshop-cum-cafe-cum-literary event venue), Paperchain and the National Library of Australia bookshop. When I travel, I like to visit independent bookshops. These shops can usually be guaranteed to have the sorts of books I like to read, and staff who love to talk books.

I do some online purchasing, but less so than I did a few years ago, and I spread myself around a bit. Fishpond, Booktopia, Bookworld, Book Depository and AbeBooks (particularly for out-of-print books) are the ones I’ve used.

2. Do you ever pre-order books and if so do you do this in store or online?

No. I have enough to read without seeking out books before they come out.

3. On average, how many books do you buy a month? 

I used to buy four or more a month (including books as gifts), but these days I have reduced that rate because I am trying to catch up on reading books I have for review and books on my TBR. So, over the last year or so I’d say I only buy a couple a month. If it’s an Australian book I want to read, I’ll buy it in print, and if it’s non-Australian I prefer e-version. This is my little attempt at decluttering – or at reducing the clutter!

4. Do you use your local library?

Rarely these days. I’m a librarian by training, and I love libraries, but I also love to own the books I read – and, yes, you can yell at me, I also write in my books (in pencil). This is the main reason why I prefer to buy books – not borrow them from friends or libraries.

5. If so – how many books can you/do you borrow at a time?

I only borrow if it’s the only way I can locate a book I really want to read, which means I usually only borrow one at a time.

6. What is your opinion on library books?

Libraries are essential to a free, democratic society. I would fight for their existence. I have no problems reading library books. I just have problems keeping my pencil away from them, so … see q. 4 above!

7. How do you feel about charity shop/second-hand books?

I regularly donate to charity bookshops which, here in my city, means to Lifeline. I occasionally offer books to secondhand bookshops for sale but I don’t really find it worthwhile. They never take all I offer, and the money I’m offered (not that I’m complaining, they have to make a living) makes it not worth the effort. So, I’ve decided recently that when I declutter books, I’m donating them.

I will buy secondhand books if the book I want is out-of-print and I can find it in one of these shops. I do enjoy browsing Australiana sections of those secondhand shops which specialise in older literature. I tend to avoid those focusing on contemporary genre/bestseller books.

8. Do you keep your read and TBR pile together/on the same book shelf or not?

Book stacks

Part of an old TBR pile before they were sorted and weeded of books I’ll never read.

On the same bookshelf. Shelf? Not shelves? Hmm, no, they are separated, and they occupy their own bookcases, with Australian TBR books separated from non-Australian. My review copies are in a shelf of their own, with a little notebook in which I list them when they come in, and tick them off when I read them.

9. Do you plan to read all the books that you own?

What I plan and what I expect are two different things …

10. What do you do with books that you own and that you feel you’ll never read/felt you didn’t enjoy?

If they’re fiction and I’ve read them, I keep them, as they are part of my reading life and history. One day, though, I will weed them, starting with the non-Australian books. Oh dear, it rather sounds like I’m a nationalist. I’m not really, but it’s all part of my desire to support our small but wonderful industry here.

However, if I haven’t read them, and I really don’t think I’ll get to them, I have just recently started to move them on – by offering them to people who I think will enjoy them or by donating them. See under q. 7 above!

11. Have you ever donated books?

Yes, see under q. 7 above, again!

12. Have you ever been on a book buying ban?

No. Sometimes I go-slow, which I am doing now for the reasons I’ve given under q. 3. I see no reason for having a ban. If I want to read a book – if I need to read a book, say for my reading group – I’ll buy it. I am lucky enough, I know, to be able to afford this. Reading, after all, is my prime hobby so of course I’m going to support that hobby in whichever way best suits me at the time – and this means reading books I have, or buying a book I “need”. Some people like going to the gym or love skiing. Do we ever ask them about going on a gym- or skiing-ban?

13. Do you feel that you buy too many books?

Yes – and no. Yes, because my eyes are at times too big for my stomach (hmm, that’s a cliché that would horrify George Orwell) and because I have bought books in the past that I realise now I will not manage to read. No, because I’m not sorry about supporting authors, publishers and booksellers.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim KABLE permalink
    April 26, 2017 12:14 am

    I was pressured by my wife to reduce my library – so nearly 2,000 have gone over the past two years – the bulk to LifeLine, several hundred to a pre-loved fine used book store in Hamilton (Newcastle) and others to friends – still leaves probably 1500 – all of which have too many stories associated with them – aides-mémoires – to let them go. They add character and form on their tall bookshelves in the living room – in the sunroom – and in my study! I very rarely buy hardcopy – though several times in the US – Charles M BLOW, Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, a biography of Howard ZINN – and just recently in Oxford Street in Bulimba, Brisbane – after having lunch in one bookshop – former Gov. Gen. Quentin B sitting alongside with Zoe and another daughter – then to the snazziest op-shop I’ve ever been in – half objects/half books – finding a 60+-year old volume containing the story of my great x 3 grand-father’s engagement in the early sealing trade of Bass Strait. Of course I bought it! Otherwise – it is now largely e-purchase to my iPad Mini Kindle app. Just now having finished and reviewed (Amazon) the George Orwell essay on language YOU reviewed – I am reading The Honest History Book eds David Stephens & Alison Broinowski – all about the ANZACs – and Anzackery (yet to reach that/those essays)! And yes, I’m also an underliner/highlighter/note-writer of and within the books I own – like you – to have the book to read it in my own way without upsetting libraries/others. Your quirkiness in writing this particular Q&A on books/purchases fits my own. Again, as always, thanks!

    • April 26, 2017 8:24 am

      Haha Jim, love your description of our behaviour as quirky. Aide-memoire is the issue isn’t? It’s currently confronting me as I confront my recipe books. I hardly ever use them now, going straight to the Internet, but they contain such history. I think I’m going to photograph covers in groups so l’ll have that at least!

      So you highlight and make notes on your Kindle app too?

  2. April 26, 2017 12:19 am

    I love peeping into the thoughts of the book-crossed folks. Thanks for the treat. I can relate to many feelings and intentions in that post. It is a bit harsh and unfair that you may prune non-Australian books at any point of the journey. You may miss out on so much fun.

    • April 26, 2017 8:28 am

      Thanks Umashankar, you have every right to pull me up! It is unfair, I totally agree. You can be sure that it won’t happen soon and that when it does it will be just tinkering around the edges!

  3. April 26, 2017 12:29 am

    I’m not sure that your mixed metaphor would horrify Orwell as much as a dead metaphor might…you actually made me picture what you said, and I think he’d call that a win!

  4. April 26, 2017 1:25 am

    Ouch, I feel I should now write 100 times ‘do not dare to do a book buying ban’. Joking aside, you do make a good point about people who love another activity never thinking of taking a sabbatical from that. I know I this goal of reading my already owned books for six months but deep down I also know that if I desperately want to buy a book then I will jolly well go and do so…..
    You keep all the books you read! Oh my word if I tried to do that I would need another house.

    • April 26, 2017 8:34 am

      Ha ha Karen, next time you go on a book buying ban, don’t tell anyone! Seriously though, if you’re not rigid, that’s Ok, and anyhow I think you (and Cathy 746 books) could just call it a hiatus!

      As for keeping books, we do have a big, now emptynest house, but even so books are piled and double-shelved and in running out, hence my decluttering project.

  5. April 26, 2017 4:42 am

    I am a book hoarder. I very rarely give away books that I have bought, and I love seeing books, which I might never re-read, in their familiar positions on my shelves. In the past nearly all my book buying has been in second hand shops, and therefore impulse buys. These days I am buying far more new books, through local indie Crow Books, to keep up with ‘required reading’ for my blog.

    • April 26, 2017 8:44 am

      Interesting. Bill, how blogging can change our reading habits. I have a draft post on that but have never sat down to properly work through a full argument.

      BTW, I’m with you. Just because I won’t reread a book isn’t a good enough reason to part with it, exactly for the reason you give. It’s part of my history. It probably will have to be a factor when I get to serious decluttenng though. Then I’ll start with those books on my ”read” shelves that I look at and think, “did I read that? I remember nothing.” Those clearly aren’t aide-memoires to my life!

  6. April 26, 2017 5:36 am

    Your thinking on this subject is very similar to mine Esp the part related to other peoples hobbies that do not get banned. I compare my book buying to my husbaands love of fine single malt and that doesn’t last as long as a book. I enjoy reading about other people’s book habits and thoughts so this meme was not wasted. 🎶🎶🎶

    • April 26, 2017 8:46 am

      Thanks Pam. Very good point re the malt not lasting as long though I suppose his rejoinder could be neither does it take up space for long!

      Thanks for supporting my doing this meme too!

  7. April 26, 2017 8:42 am

    Love to hear Jim’s and others’ comments on The Honest History Book

    • April 26, 2017 8:51 am

      Thanks David. Maybe he’ll see this and comment more – or others who have read it.

      • April 26, 2017 9:11 am

        Yes, I’m interested in that too. Have you visited their website? There’s lots of interesting stuff there:)

        • April 26, 2017 12:13 pm

          Not yet but I will when I get the time. Unpacking parents boxes this am and then volunteering today from 2.30pm until around 9.

  8. ian darling permalink
    April 27, 2017 7:03 pm

    Got rid of a LOT of books last year as the piles were alarming the cat! I have a few pangs about the resulting gaps in the collection but I still enjoy buying books to build up a leaner and more efficient personal library(who am I kidding!).

    • April 27, 2017 9:40 pm

      Alarming the cat, Ian! That sounds like a very justifiable reason for weeding your piles.

      Oh, and as soon as I read the next sentence, before the final parenthesis, I was thinking “Oh yeah?”

  9. April 28, 2017 4:14 am

    This was a fun peek! I like the photo of your old TBR, not willing to share the new one? Or a casual photo of your shelves?

  10. April 30, 2017 11:38 pm

    This is such a great post. Questions of what to do with books are something that comes to all of us if we read/buy enough books. I give away new books that I’ve read to my local library who are always grateful. Older books I give to Lifeline too, but I’m sure that I buy more than I give away when I go to their local sales. I love the photo of your TBR too, it’s always so interesting to peak at someones TBR, and while I admire you keeping all in one place (if only my TBR was small enough to do that), I was a bit shocked that it wasn’t alphabetised.

    • April 30, 2017 11:43 pm

      Haha Louise. That TBR is several years old, and from a time when it was completely disorganised. MY TBR is now somewhat organised and Aussie and overseas authors are in different bookcases.

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