I thought it might be fun to change it up and talk a bit about where we buy books, especially since my book buying patterns have changed lately.
Growing up, I got the bulk of my books at thrift stores and library sales as well as my local Barnes & Noble. I got a few at the Scholastic fair and random other places (fun fact: my Nancy Drew books are all from Sam’s Club! I’d hunt through their stock to find the five-book sets I was missing), but I would say that most of them were used.
In college, I switched more to Amazon, especially since my credit card let me use my points directly on Amazon, and that’s pretty much what I’ve done ever since until the last year or so.
As much as I like to support independent book stores, the reality is that they’re expensive! I still remember one experience where I bought a new hardcover release and never thought to check the price, assuming it would be $25 or so, and was furious when I walked out and happened to look at my receipt and realized it was more than $35! I could have bought at least three books on Amazon for that price!
But I do want to support bookstores, especially when they host book signings, so I always buy a book when I go to a book signing. I view the higher price as an admission ticket to the signing, which helps me reconcile how much they can be sometimes. And I’ll pick up a book from them here and there.
Since discovering the bookish community last year, I’ve also started buying books from Book Outlet. (If you haven’t bought from them before, definitely use my referral link so we can both get $5 off!) That site is so dangerous! The prices are so good, it’s scary easy to add way too many books to your cart and just buy them all. It’s a great site, but I try not to use it too often since I usually find myself buying books I don’t intend to read for a while yet. The money also doesn’t directly support authors (I think, based on what I know of their model), which is something that’s become important to me the more I blog and attend book signings, so it’s something to keep in mind.
In the last few months, though, I’ve been buying the bulk of my books from Barnes & Noble’s website. I was at a book club meeting where a bunch of women who work in publishing were talking about how terrible Amazon is for the publishing business and how they refuse to support it. I do think there’s a benefit as a buyer to the fact that I can buy more books if I buy them from Amazon than if I walk into a bookstore with the same budget, but Amazon’s predatory pricing practices are no secret. So I’ve been trying to more actively support other retailers and stop buying all of my books from Amazon.
I actually signed up for a Barnes & Noble membership because I was going to enough signings at Barnes & Noble stores that it seemed worth it for the in-store discount, plus you get free shipping on their website, which is especially key when I want a Barnes & Noble exclusive edition but don’t feel like making a $25 purchase. But what I’ve since realized is that Barnes & Noble does same-day delivery in Manhattan, and that has pretty much become how I buy the bulk of my books now since their online pricing is pretty competitive with Amazon. Of course, the pricing Barnes & Noble uses isn’t any more favorable to publishers than Amazon’s since it’s pretty much the same, but it helps erode a little bit of Amazon’s market share. Plus my membership makes me a little bit more likely to buy books from the physical stores as well. It’s not supporting indies, but with the amount of books I buy, that’s just not something I can really afford to do all the time.
This combination of indies, Barnes & Noble, Book Outlet, and the occasional Amazon purchase has been really working for me—arguably too well, because I find myself buying books faster than I can read them! As much as I wish there was a good, affordable independent bookstore or used bookstore in New York, it’s probably in my best interest that there isn’t, or I’d be buying a boatload from there too.
And this doesn’t even take into consideration the number of books I get from the library! Seriously, the Overdrive app is the most amazing thing ever, and every time I read a book on my Kindle and take advantage of the convenience of having it fit in my purse no matter what I’m reading, I wonder why I keep buying so many books.
I should also add that I’m fortunate in my job right now to be able to spend a little bit more on books in order to support authors and independent bookstores, but I absolutely endorse getting books however you can (except, you know, pirating them). If it’s important to you to support authors, you can still do that by spreading the word about your favorite books and leaving a review on Amazon to improve a book’s searchability! That’s actually something I need to start doing better on…
Anyways, where do you find yourself buying books lately? Or do you consider yourself strictly a library user? Let me know in the comments!