books · discussions · Shar

Changing book buying habits

Hi Virtually Readers! Emily recently wrote a post about how people with a lot of books do better on bookstagrampost about how people with a lot of books do better on bookstagram. That got me thinking about why we buy books in the first place and whether we should, so I’m writing this. 

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Why bookworms buy books

#1– We’re bookworms

It’s what we do! We want to have all the preciouses with us all the time! We don’t have anything else to do with our money!

#2–It supports authors

Buying books is how authors get their money. And if we want to support authors, then we can buy their books. Although it should be noted that only a very small portion of the book price pays the author. The rest is for the bookshop, the publishers, and the actual physical product.


Especially for people on #bookstagram, we just like the pretty outside of the book (especially if it’s just as pretty and delicious on the inside. MMMMMM)



A few months ago, Shanti and I bought some books. They I don’t regret buying those books (Dreams of Gods and Monsters, Gemina, The Scorpio Races, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Cress, Cinder, Scarlet). I might regret it when I try to move house, I suppose. Getting books was super exciting, especially because we’d either read and loved or were part of series we already liked. Buying them wasn’t really a gamble. But I get the impression that a lot of other book bloggers buy books without knowing they’d like them.

Let’s be honest–too many books are annoying to lug around if you’re moving, and if you don’t enjoy them or only plan to read them once, they’re a bit of a waste of money. If you’re like me and don’t have a lot of money to spend on expensive books, and you don’t need them for bookstagram (although really, I would classify bookstagram as a want and not a need), then they’re not really worth it.


Books (at least physical ones) use natural resources to be made. Buying them creates more demand, which requires more supply (I don’t know any economics). A lot of the money goes to corporate multinational publishers (not all of them are though) (also, support indie bookstores and not Amazon with some questionable worker rights). And also, getting rid of them is a waste of time. You have to first decide if you don’t want the book any more, then make the effort to sell it/give it to your library or op shop or friend. I personally think that sometimes buying books isn’t worth it.

Disclaimer 1: If you have money (and like a job or something AKA not me) and you want to spend your money on books, go ahead! That’s fine. I’m talking more about when it’s a waste of your money or time.

Disclaimer 2: If you can buy free books or secondhand books, that’s great. Tell me where you get free books from, please. Unless it’s from dodgy Russian websites. That’s illegal. Don’t do that. 

Disclaimer 3: This doesn’t mean not to buy ANY books. Just ones you aren’t pretty sure you’re going to like.

So here I am, saying ‘don’t buy too many books’. But what else can you do? Here’s my solution: Libraries.

Until I started book blogging, I rarely bought books. The ones on my bookshelf were mainly gifts. I got all my books from the library.

Currently, I belong to two libraries: my school’s physical library(although I’ve just graduated so that will change) and a New Zealand digital library which uses a program called Overdrive. I can get a lot of books from these two places, keep them for a few weeks before returning them. I don’t need to pay any money for it.

A lot of you probably have access to a good library. If you don’t, I  guess that’s a good excuse for buying a book not libraying?

Also, fun fact: Libraries do support authors. The more people who try to request a book, the more copies the library will buy, which gives the authors money without you having to pay. Secondly, in Britian libraries give authors a small sum every time their book is checked out.



With all these things in mind, here’s a list of rules I’m going to try to make for my own book buying.

1- Don’t buy doubles. (I don’t really get why you would get a second copy of a book you already have?)

2- If you don’t know if you’ll like a book, get it from the library first.

3- If you can get the paperback, do: your pathetic arm muscles will thank you later, even if it’s ‘uglier’.

4- Get books second hand if you can.

5-Don’t buy books without reading the blurb. Yes, even if it’s gorgeous.

6- Give away or sell books you don’t want. If they can make someone else happy, why should they lie festering on your shelf?

7- Have a monthly budget that *encourages* you to choose well

Do you have any book buying rules? Do you agree with this, or am I wildly wrong (I’m totally open to people disagreeing)? Do you ever buy a book without looking at the blurb? Do you use your library?


29 thoughts on “Changing book buying habits

  1. I absolutely adore libraries!!! This is partially because I have not the money to purchase oodles of books, and partially because I am a cautious and fearful sponge who is petrified of buying a book I am not sure to love. Considering this, you have probably guessed that I would NEVER buy a book without first reading the blurb. I confess that I tremble with consternation at the very thought. Most of my books are purchased secondhand, or were gifts- but the bulk of my reading material comes from my beloved library. Thus, libraries are my life-blood.
    I really enjoyed this post! I like hearing about the bookish habits of other book worms.


    1. I’m glad you liked this! I love to read blurbs when I’m browsing and pick up books. the library is the best. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Thanks for commenting!


  2. I absolutely adore libraries!!! Partially because I have no money to purchase oodles of books and partially because I am a cautious and fearful sponge who does not like taking risks as drastic as buying books that I am not sure to love. I always, ALWAYS look up a book before buying it! When I do buy books, they are usually secondhand, but the bulk of my reading material comes from the library. Thus, libraries are my life-blood. I enjoyed this post- I like to see other bookworms bookish habits!


      1. I kind of figured that was the case? I wasn’t 100% sure though so I replied to both. Rest assured I’ve done a lot of silly things like that before haha

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have two copies of one of my favorite books, one in English and one in Spanish. Just because I’m a little nerdy like that. I am surprised by a lot of the book bloggers, though! I’m surprised by how much space they seem to have—and surprised by how much space they seem willing to devote to books they didn’t like.

    As for me, I don’t keep books I don’t like and I rarely buy books without knowing that I’ll like them. In many cases, this does mean that I’ve read them before, but I do make exceptions. For example, the other day I bought Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie, which I had no qualms about because Sherman Alexie is a literary god and if I find that I dislike that book I will find myself a traitor to my own cause. Basically. SO, all in all, yeah, I do use libraries to double-check before a purchase. (Not that I spend an over amount on books, anyway.)

    I would actually mention, though, the philosophy of Terry Deary, I think… I’m pretty sure that’s who said this. He wrote the Horrible Histories books. Anyway, if memory serves, he was strongly *against* libraries because, in his opinion, they’re an outdated mode of information sharing that just serves to deprive authors of their paycheck. I think in his mind, regardless of whether or not you like a book (or maybe, despite the fact that you disliked a book), you’re still getting a service from the writer, and so you ought to pay them. I personally disagree (I love libraries!) but I do think that he’s hitting on a note that actually is becoming more relevant in our world today: the price of information. I see this being especially true on Twitter, where people who tweet about their experiences and with advice for folks ask for tips if you’ve found their threads helpful. I still think that libraries should exist, because having a public source of information matters to me, but I can see how treating everyone in every situation like a library could potentially be difficult for those people who are warranted to ask for compensation for their help.

    Interestingly, I’m actually on a library ban right now, so that I can focus on reading (or rereading) the books I already own—this essentially amounts to a large decluttering spree, in the long run. I’ve already found eighteen books I’m ready to donate, and looking forward to finding more. 🙂

    This was a thought-provoking post, Shar! Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thank you, Heather! I remember reading that thing you mentioned about Terry Deary a few years ago, and although when I was younger I really liked his book, it really made him fall in my estimation. While I do agree that authors deserve to be paid, I also think that libraries are a legal way for people to read books which they might not have read otherwise. And a lot of books I’ve bought AFTER reading them from the library and deciding I liked them enough to buy. Similarly, people may join a book fandom after reading a book from the library and spend more money to support the author. Also, plenty of people do buy books and I imagine most authors probably earn enough money.
      I’m thinking about banning myself from the library so I read the books I own because I want to be able to read them then give them away/sell them before I leave for college. But I haven’t done that yet.


  4. I am very happy to hear that authors get money when a book is checked out of a library. I use my local library a lot and have been feeling vaguely guilty that some of the amazing books that I’ve been reading would not be supporting the author. Happy to know that’s not the case.


    1. DON’T FEEL GUILTY. I have a lot of friends who get ebooks for free from illegal Russian websites. At least libraries are legal+ they still support authors. 🙂


  5. I also wouldn’t personally buy a second copy of a book unless the first one I have was old or unless I wanted to read it in Spanish as well.

    I also really like libraries! Your libraries seem so well organised (I don’t know what word I want to use. HELP.) I’m so lucky to have such a nice library. I love how I simply have to request books online if the book isn’t in my library and then the book will be taken from other libraries in Ireland and then would be dropped off in my library. I used to really get jealous of arcs but now I don’t really want them because I can request a bunch of books and since I read pretty slowly, I don’t wanna waste anybody’s time xD


    Liked by 1 person

    1. New Zealand libraries can do this requesting thing too! It’s so convenient and easy because you can just turn up, get the books and not have to waste time looking for them. Libraries are the best, and I don’t really get why bookworms don’t use them and just have vast amounts of books? Maybe they have nothing better to do with their money. That’s not me haha. The second copies thing I don’t get? Like I saw this bookstagrammer who had like 5 copies she’d bought of The Fault In Our Stars and then a few months later she was like ‘Oh I don’t really like it that much any more’ and I’m just like why?


  6. I can’t remember the last time I bought fiction. Just have too many friends who are willing to loan one way or another!

    My basic rule is that I buy nonfiction when I already know it is a very good product and that I’ll be referencing it frequently.


  7. This is really interesting, Shar! I buy books like… very rarely. When I do, it’s brand new from a large-brand bookstore, because I have gift cards from them. XD I would love to get it from discount stores!!! But I have no money!!! So I work with the gift cards!!!

    Anyways, I’m planning on getting a job when I’m old enough + can drive (aka three years *cries*) so I can afford more books. BECAUSE I NEED. The envy is real.


    1. GIFT CARDS YAAASSS. I need more gift cards in my life. MORE I TELL YOU (@my parents haha). Also, I guess I may buy more books if I had a job? I guess I’ll get one in college (my dream job is working in a bookstore obviously)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I am struggling with my hundreds of books right now as we are moving from our home after 16 years here (so much packing!). I do love the library, Overdrive, and Hoopla. I wish my eLibrary had a better selection, but I still manage to get the BIG titles from there (after being on the waitlist for months and months.) But hey, free is free.


    1. Free is free! Waitlists are pretty annoying though, not gonna lie. I hope I can get rid of more of my books before I move for college.


  9. I’ve just changed up my book buying rules as well! I have been pretty good about not buying a lot of books for a while now, but had sort of been slipping. I was buying inexpensive ebooks, but last week I realized I can check out ebooks from my library’s website (I just got a card a few weeks ago when I realized I could use my paystub as proof of residence). I don’t want to waste money on something that I don’t even get to have a physical copy of, so this was PERFECT. No more buying ebooks for me.

    My new rules for buying physical books are now 1) only buy used or from indie stores, 2) don’t buy books I’m not sure I’ll like, and 3) only buy books I already know I’m going read over and over or know would look amazing on my shelves. This really cuts down on the possible books I can buy and encourages me to use the local library. There’s one branch near where I work and one branch that is literally a 30-second walk from my apartment, so I really have no excuse not to read almost exclusively library books.

    Great post! These are all wonderful points, and you can see I agree with most of them!


    1. Those are great rules! I didn’t address this in my post, but I really think that if you do buy books, indie stores are the way to go. And libraries are really good because it’s so easy to get a card and big cities normally have a lot of branches. I used to buy ebooks for my kindle, but now I don’t have to do that (thank you, libraries).
      Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is such an interesting post, thank you so much for writing it. I kind of have rules when it comes to buying books as well because even if I have a monthly income coming in, I’m trying to be a responsible adult here hahaha. I don’t have the chance of having a library with books in English so I am “forced” to buy the books if I want to read them. In a way, I’m glad because I’m supporting the authors but in another way, my wallet is not happy about it. For the matter of place – my room is flooded with books – I try and buy e-books more and I definitely always make sure it’s a book I really, really want and could appreciate a lot, that I will buy in actual physical copy. I almost always buy paperbacks except when I absolutely need the book right this second, which only happens for my favorite authors and I don’t ever buy doubles.
    Lovely post! 🙂


    1. Those are good rules! I also don’t have that many hard covers just because they’re so much more expensive, which is annoying. (like, can’t they be cheaper? please? I want them?) . I’m really sorry you don’t have a good English library though. That must be really really frustrating. Like, you kind of need to read books to be a book blogger, and if you can’t get them for free that really sucks.
      Side note: I want to be a responsible adult like you someday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right?! I wish hardcovers were less expensive. I almost only order paperbacks, except when it comes to my favorite authors and I can’t wait for the paperback.
        Oh you’re too sweet shar, ahah, being an adult is hard, and I don’t know if I am that responsible but I try ahah 🙂


  11. I have put a ban on my book buying exactly for this purpose.Moving house is so difficult with my school related books and novels.Though this ban is mainly on physical books.I thought I could save up some money and buy a book every six months (I hope).I know many people who use Overdrive but Indian libraries don’t have a lot of selection of the books that I read so it’s kind of hopeless on me.


    1. Indian libraries are generally not that great. Like when I lived in Delhi, we had an okay library but now I just rely on ebooks + books at school (but they don’t have any new releases except like percy jackson) . Book buying bans sound like a good idea. Thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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