Buy or borrow?

January 2, 2010 § 5 Comments

As I discussed a couple of days ago, I read a lot more last year than ever before. Reading this much for pleasure is a new thing for me, and I’m not sure how to balance the economics of it.

On the one hand, I love going to bookstores (or their websites) and buying new books. I love checking out bestsellers lists or highly publicized new books at places like Barnes & Noble. A good friend of mine runs a great website on bestsellers (please visit Erin’s sit here: http://bestsellers.about.com : it’s great, and she works really hard at having a really solid site) and she has lots of great insight into current fiction.

And, to be perfectly honest, I really like having books on my bookshelves. I like people looking and saying “Oh… The Brothers Karamazov. I’ve always wanted to read that.” (To which I’d reply, “Me too… I’ve tried 3 times, never come close to finishing.)

On the other hand, holy crap, books are expensive! (And when read quickly, expensive for not a long time of use.) For example, one of the books I read last week (Matthew Paul Turner’s Churched) was a Christmas present to myself. I bought it right before Christmas, and it got delivered to me on Christmas Eve. It was $13 bucks from Amazon. I read it in less than 24 hours from starting it. I loved the book, and am glad I bought it (mainly to support an author who I really like.) But, $13 for 24 hours of use? (Notice I didn’t say enjoyment.) Imagine how hard it would be to charge $13 for a movie you kept for 24 hours? (Please don’t get any ideas Redbox.)

The obvious solution is the library. But for some reason, every time I get a new book from the library, I get images of George Costanza and his flagged book. (And I might occasionally be guilty myself.) Something about library books seem… dirty.

So, what do you think? Is it frivolous to buy books (especially now when I don’t have a job)? Can pursuing reading ever be a bad way to spend money? Or is it ridiculous to pay for something that you can easily get for free (I have a library in my neighborhood)?

Please share your thoughts, and let me know if I’m the only person with the Costanza complex about books.

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§ 5 Responses to Buy or borrow?

  • Liz E says:

    paperbackswap.com 🙂 Most of my reading material comes from there now… even if it can be a long wait for some titles.

  • Jenny says:

    I use paperbackswap.com, too. But it can be a long wait for new books, but you can’t beat the price. There’s also so many used books stores in the Raleigh/Durham area, I usually can get fairly new books there in great condition for a quarter of the price. This way I also get my fix of book shopping in person. There’s also Book Depository (.com), they’re UK based and it’s free shipping no matter what. They have a lot f titles that are even cheaper than Amazon.

    This makes me sound like a major book nerd. Ah well, a spade is a spade.

  • I had always been a bit of a book whore, until I finally came to grips with the fact that once I read them, they collect dust. After the 2 kiddos came along and there was less money in the rainy day fund, I started going to the library and swapping with friends. I just checkout out 10 new titles today. There are some books that I do purchase (usually from a great discount book site http://www.abebooks.com) and will often suggest titles for gift ideas. I enjoy my library time now, scanning the shelves and finding books that I probably wouldn’t have thought to even look at in a book store or online. I have really come to love my small town library!

  • Brian Taylor says:

    You could try Amazon’s kindle .. my sister-in-law loves hers, and she reads a lot of novels on it.

  • Lee Taft says:

    Yeah, Em has a Kindle, and the books are cheaper, I’m still faced with the same dilemma, just a little cheaper (books are normally only $9.99 instead of full price.)

    Liz and Jenny, I’ll check out paperbackswap.com. I had never heard of anything like that, and it looks pretty cool. Although, I still get nervous about where those books have been…

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