The cost of reading… and not reading

sundaysalonI love buying books. Though I have hundreds of them in the house queuing up to be read I just cannot resist the temptation to acquire yet more. Until today I never really thought about the cost of my magpie-like tendency. Then I saw a statistic which stopped me in my tracks.

Book Riot reader survey

This came from a survey of more than 2,000 followers of the Book Riot site. In the same survey 19 respondents reported spending more than $2,000 in one year on books.

I realised that I had no idea how much my own reading habits cost me. I didn’t think I was in the $2,000 category but I honestly didn’t know. So I did a quick calculation. Last year I bought 30 books (rather more than I was supposed to given that I had started the year with a declaration of imposing a book buying ban). Eleven of these came from a charity shop/second hand store so were roughly half the price of a pristine edition. I estimated  that I spent somewhere in the region of $260-300 on books in total in 2014. I started to feel calmer. It wasn’t a huge amount to spend on an interest I reasoned (just think how much I’d be spending if I was into surfing or horse riding).

The feeling didn’t last very long.

What about all those books that I’d bought and never read. How much had that cost me over the last few years? $3,000? $4,000? However much it was, I realised that if I didn’t read these books I’d be wasting a whole lot of money. Another good reason to seriously tackle to TBR pile don’t you think?

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on March 29, 2015, in Sunday Salon and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Crazy statistic! I suppose though when I think of what I probably spend on books and audio.

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  2. I’ve never kept track of all that I spend on books, and I’m not sure I want to know. 😉 I kid myself that it’s less than 500.00 a year, but who knows? I know that I indulge in these areas of my life: books, lipstick and coffee. But, as you say, it’s not quite like horse-back riding, or taking big trips, of even what some people spend on alcohol. Perhaps I’ll keep track starting now of what I spend on books…e-readers…library fines…

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  3. I dread to think how much money is bound up in those books bought and (as yet) unread! Great post and one to reflect on.

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  4. Yikes! I’ve been clicking on a lot of bargain e-books that are probably adding up. My husband and I took up ballroom dancing a few years ago and got obsessed with it about a year ago. I’d hate to add up what we spend on that little hobby! My book-buying is nothing compared to that. Hubby also has gardening and fishing as 3-season hobbies, so I should be allowed one year-round hobby of book collecting and reading, I figure!

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  5. Whoa that is disturbing to see that number and to know how quickly the little $2-3 books add up! I’ll have to add a column to my “Received” books on my tracking spreadsheet to see how much I spend, too bad I delete them after I’ve read them 😀

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  6. Well, when you put it that way! I always tell my financial adviser that all my unread books are my retirement savings. Seems like I might not be that wrong!

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  7. I spend a lot of money on books I haven’t read, but I like simply having the choice of what to read next. I think the investment is well worth it 🙂

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  8. Wow, that IS a sobering statistic. I have been trying to go to the library more to curb costs and borrowing off friends, but I’m still totally guilty of indulging in a bookstore binge every once in a while. I have a feeling that this stat will stick in my head though which may help me be better in that area.

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  9. I spend a lot of money on books as well. I’m recently into shopping on BookBub which has best sellers at half price savings. You have to be a member (free). This week they have authors Alice Walker, Doris Lessing, Alice Hoffman, Sena Jena Naslund, and John Irving books.

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  10. Ah. It’s nothing. Think of what you might spend one weekend on vacation or out to dinner 10 or 12 times. Comparatively it’s an inexpensive hobby — and there are so many ways to buy cheaply or borrow for free.

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  11. I do buy books, but by using the public library I am able to save thousands of dollars.

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  12. I refuse to feel guilty. When I was first into photography I would drop $1000s a year on cameras, lenses (and photobooks of course). If I was into skiing or golf I would spend that much before even considering lift tickets or greens fees. Now mind you I have restrained myself from buying any more photo equipment for a few years because I can’t afford to drop $500-600+ at a time, but fortunately books can be bought in smaller units it never seems so painful.

    Or so I tell myself…

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  13. Compare this to the cost of smoking and you’ll feel a lot better right away.

    So actually, reading is a cheap addiction. 🙂

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  14. I always feel like money spent on books is well worth it 🙂 I have learned to be more judicious in my book buying, and I do re-read book often so I get my money’s worth! But I also make good use of the library, too.

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