My Book Buying Habits

Obama buys books

Even a President cant resist the lure of books

If you are a reader then you are also a buyer of books. Probably many of them. But what kind of buyer are you?  This tag on book buying has been doing the rounds for a while it seems but I only came across it recently via Robert at Book Mongrel. And so here are my secrets revealed…..

1. Where do you buy your books?

Everywhere 🙂 I don’t seem to have a lot of brand loyalty. If its a bricks and mortar shop then it will be Waterstones (there is no other option available because all the other booksellers closed down) where I like to browse what’s just been released. Or if I have a specific book in mind I might go to a small independent bookshop just a few miles from my home who have a good ordering service. When I was doing a lot of business travel I’d spend a lot of time in Barnes and Noble in the US which has a very civilised model of staying open until 10pm and has a coffee shop attached. A perfect way to relax at the end of the day. If its online purchasing then I’ll use AbeBooks, Book Depository or Amazon.

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

First let me get something off my chest. I loathe this term pre-order which seems to be creeping in everywhere. It’s a nonsensical term. I can’t order before I order. Whats happened to the good old fashioned term ‘reserve’.

If this is a question about ordering books before they are published, then I can’t recall ever doing that.

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

Right now, none! I decided one of my goals for 2017 was to enjoy all the books I already own but have not read. My buying habits went out of control in the last two years and it’s time to exercise some restraint at least for the first six months of this year. So far I’ve done pretty well and haven’t bought anything – though it hasn’t stopped acquisitions totally because my sister donated three books to me in February and I’ve won a few in give aways. But it’s certainly more restrained than in previous years where I would buy probably about 4 a month. I know other readers buy far more than that but then I don’t read that quickly.

4. Do you use your local library?

Absolutely. I’ve been a library member since early childhood – it was my lifeline in my teens because my parents couldn’t afford to keep up with my voracious reading habits. Going to the library meant I could explore unknown territories of genres and authors without feeling I was wasting money if I didn’t enjoy them. What makes me angry is the way the public library service in the UK is being viewed with hundreds of branches closing as a result of cost cutting measures. Ok some of them are being run by the community but this in no way is a substitute for a professional service. I fought for two years to keep the library in my village but despite taking court action it’s now run by volunteers and has to be funded by the community.

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

I think the limit for my library is about 5 books at any one time. I tend not to get too many out in one go because I know I’ll never read them before the loan period is up. Many times I will borrow something just to boost the statistics for the number of books issued – but keep that to yourself, I don’t want the local authority bureaucrats knowing I am trying to manipulate their data (!).

6. What is your opinion on library books?

They’re a valuable resource that is sadly undervalued. My one complaint is that the stock seems to be too skewed to popular fiction (way too many minor celebrity memoirs). Not easy though to get anything that is not mainstream (especially if it is in translation). When the Booker Prize longlist came out a few years ago I went off to the library that day and out of 13 titles on the list I could find only 3 either in stock or on order.

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

I love them. Just wish there were more of them within easy reach that stocked the books I want. There is a branch of the British Heart Foundation in the nearest town to me where I’ve been lucky with a few of the Booker Prize winners like The Famished Road (so glad I didn’t spend much on that since it was dire and I could not finish it) and an Iris Murdoch. Oxfam has a dedicated book shop that I drop in  whenever I’m in Cardiff shopping though I think their prices are a bit on the high side. For a few years I thought that was the only option since all the other second hand shops I knew of closed down. But last year I discovered one that has a wonderful selection of the original Virago green editions. Paradise is only a few miles away!

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

They’re separate otherwise the bookshelves would be in an even greater mess than they are currently

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

That’s the idea certainly and I’m gradually reducing the number that are still to be read. My only problem area is with my non fiction books. I buy them fully intending to read them but often never get around to it….

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

I either donate them to a charity shop or to the library. Or I take to a cafe which is a bookcrossing zone in Cardiff.

11. Have you ever donated books?

Regularly. Either my own copies or – for a few years – via the World Book Night scheme

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

I tried this a few times in the past but it never worked. This year I’ve been far more successful and have lasted almost 4 months without purchasing anything. I put this down to three things: 1. I retired end of last year so haven’t had to do long business trips where I invariably stock up on reading material before I leave home 2. Because I’ve  been recovering from two rounds of surgery this year I haven’t been out and about in shopping areas as much as in the past and 3. Being careful when I open emails from publishers announcing some new titles. Instead of ordering them on auto pilot as I did in the past, I now just add them to my wishlist in Goodreads.

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

Tough question to answer – what is too many? I like to have a choice for sure so will always have more books in the house than I can read in a year. But yes my buying habits did get a bit out of control in the last two years and I found I was picking them up without much thought as to why I wanted to read that particular title.

Hope you enjoyed this – I’d love to see your answers to these questions.


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 April 22, 2017, in Bookends, Sunday Salon and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. NO books? Absolutely, truly none? Oh my goodness, if only I could be like you! Every time I’m at the bookstore I telly myself, “Delphine, you are only browsing. No buying!” And sure enough, I end up lugging out of the shop 5 novels under each arm. *Absolutely NO self control!”

    • Well clearly I dont have 100% control either since i’ve slipped a bit after that post went live. I bought one book three weeks ago when I went to an author event, I’ve taken some out of the library and i was given a few. So my bookshelves haven’t entirely been without some new stock but compared to the last two years when I bought more than 100 each year, I’m being remarkably restrained.

  2. I’ve just caught up with this meme. My parents moved to a retirement village last week. Life has been very busy the last month or so, with their house sale and move, so I’ve been slow reading blogs. I enjoyed your response, and loved your particularly your response to the “pre-ordering” section.

    I’m was interested in Weezelle on independent bookstores. Certainly, I can name a few in my city – in fact, we have more independents here than chains, I’d say.

  3. 1. Where do you buy your books?
    Local bookstores usually. Book festivals when I go. Haven’t bought a book online in a long while.
    2. Do you ever pre-order books and if so do you do this in store or online?
    3. On average, how many books do you buy a month?
    Right now my average is less than zero because my current pact with myself is I’m allowed to buy one book only after reading 10 from my unread shelf. I still get books thrust at me though so the shelf grows almost as if it has a will of its own.
    4. Do you use your local library?
    Not in many years, but in my defense we didn’t really have a proper local library for a long time; it’s a habit we’ll have to pick up now that we do.
    5. If so – how many books can you/do you borrow at a time?
    See 4.
    6. What is your opinion on library books?
    I value them. I donate copies of all my books to the local library.
    7. How do you feel about charity shop/second hand books?
    Love them. When I was at Uni, the second hand bookstore was my must-stop. We don’t have one here though.
    8. Do you keep your read and TBR pile together/on the same book shelf or not?
    No, different shelves.
    9. Do you plan to read all the books that you own?
    Yes. But I’m learning to ease up on myself about it.
    10. What do you do with books that you own and that you feel you’ll never read/felt you didn’t enjoy?
    I donate periodically.
    11. Have you ever donated books?
    Yes. To community library projects and book drives for the most part; last lump sum was to a drive for our local prison:
    12. Have you ever been on a book buying ban?
    See 3.
    13. Do you feel that you buy too many books?
    I agree, what is too many. I wish I had time to read all the books I want to read, so the question is not too many books but too little time.

  4. I’ve enjoyed reading about your book gathering habits. It sounds like you try to make deliberate choices, rather than simply falling into purchases which is a wise approach, given that shelf-space and resources are not infinite. I’m not sure if UK libraries have this service, but it’s not well known in Canada either, but the libraries will often acquire based upon request (but don’t necessarily advertise this willingness because it could easily be abused) and sometimes budgets simply go unspent and other times could be reallocated. Not sure if they’d be willing to buy more prize winners at your branch, but it couldn’t hurt to let them know that you’re yearning for such goodies.

    • I’m trying to be more deliberate in my purchases in future – can’t say I applied that approach in the past two years though which is how I’ve ended up with a lot of books that make me wonder why I got them…… I have indeed made requests via the library though as yet not one of them has been agreed!

  5. I never have and I never will put myself on a book ban! Crazy! Books aren’t alcohol, people.

  6. This was really enjoyable. I am lucky enough to live by a high street with about 10 charity shops, all with books, in a varied and mainly middle class area where I can guaranteed I’ll find the Booker Shortlist for little money about six months after the winner is announced! I keep my TBR separate, I’ve never been on a ban but I did do a reading diet once (not a success).

  7. Interestingly you and another book blogger in The Sunday Salon used the same photo of Obama. I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn’t seeing…well..double. As for book buying, I don’t buy as much as I used to. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I work at a library too.

  8. Wonderful post! I’ll be answering this later this week! I’m a librarian so my answers will be fairly predictable. 🙂 Although I”m also an author so I’d also be giving lots of retail love!

    We used the same pic today!! I used the Obama picture too… that’s my local bookstore!!

    • I was astonished to see you’d used the same photo – what are the chances of that happening! Now let me see if I can guess how you might answer the question What do you Think of Library Books

  9. Enjoyed your post & would also like to use the questions, at some future date. I’m a keen library fan but must also confess to binges with online booksellers. Here in SA our brick& mortar retailers offer a limited selection at a high price. Online is much cheaper. Weezelle in Oz is a fortunate woman to have such a wide variety of indie bookstores close by.

    • I visited one bookshop in J’burg when I was there a year ago – it’s selection of African writers in English wasn’t as extensive as I was expecting. I had a lovely chat to one of the staff members about some options which is how I ended up with The Way of the Women by Marlene van Niekerk and Fiela’s Child by Dalene Matthee – two new authors for me

  10. LOVE this series of questions!
    While I’ve always been a fan of libraries, I find I use them more now than ever before. The high cost of newly released hardbacks, coupled with my desire to downsize, makes borrowing books a more attractive option.

    • I’ve never gone in for buying hardbacks just because of the cost so if I want to read books which have just been published, then the library is the only option. Of course sometimes it doesnt work out that they have that particular book or I end up in a horrendously long queue…..

  11. This a great tag/meme and thanks for sharing! I think I will take the cue from you and think of what my answers would be. My answers will be pretty poor when it comes to libraries though.

  12. piningforthewest

    My answers would be much the same as yours too, including fighting but failing to keep local libraries open. They closed 16 libraries in Fife this year, it’s so depressing that they don’t realise how important they are to the communities.

    • The new community library in our village (the one I fought hard to keep as a council service) is going to struggle to keep going once the start up funding from the council runs out. Understandably local residents feel they already pay for the service via council tax so to donate money would be paying twice

  13. pre-order, pre-warn, pre-book – I hear all these now….arrgh!

  14. What a fun idea! I would do this, except that I think that most of my answers would be much the same as yours!

    • Your answer to the one about where you buy your books wouldn’t feature places like Waterstones I predict. Given the kind of books you enjoy the most, I suspect they come mainly from charity stores or second hand outlets

  15. Is your local Waterstones the Cardiff branch? Lots of temptation there although the bookseller who once had a whole bay full of personal recommendations – I’ve forgotten his name – seems to have left which makes my occasional visits much less expensive than they once were.

    • It is indeed in Cardiff Susan. You’d think the capital city of Wales could sustain more than one book shop wouldn’t you? But apart from Blackwells at the university, this is the only one……There did indeed used to be a guy in the branch who wrote lovely handwritten notes about the books he selected. I picked up quite a few recommendations that way

  16. I’ve really cut down on my book buying this year. I donate my old books to the local help-the -library group. Three bags of books so far this year.

  17. Great post! I would not do well with this one, as I download a lot of books onto my Kindle. It’s as if they aren’t really a problem, since they are basically out of sight. LOL.

    But I do keep track of them and work at reading them.

    I used to read from the library primarily, and I need to return to that habit. There is a lovely library in my neighborhood.

  18. Lucky you – but then I hear books are quite expensive in Australia compared to UK? I’m going purely on my friend’s comment (she travels to Australia every year to visit family)

  19. I loved these questions and enjoyed your answers. If you don’t mind, I’m going to do this tag on my Sunday post!

  20. I like your answers here – I have been a member of a library since I was a small child and that was my main source of books, like you I did find that the options tended to be very mainstream. We are lucky here in Jersey that the library is still viewed as a valuable resource and so far has avoided the most drastic cost cutting measures. I have also managed to be far more restrained in my book buying this year!

  21. One of the things I’ve loved about moving back to Australia (from Scotland) is that there are real, proper bookstores, like in the city centre and in the suburbs. I could drive for 10 minutes in an almost any direction and come across an independent bookstore. I think it has A LOT to do with Amazon not really having a presence here. Hence, I don’t buy anything from Amazon/ Book Depository anymore. It’s my own personal protest. I’ll let you know how effective it turns out to be….

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