As you might have noticed if you’ve been around my blog for any length of time, I’m a bit obsessed with trying to get down to a zero TBR. In fact, that’s pretty much my only goal for this year (though I have to admit I’ve been slacking lately). And while a significant part of that involves reading the books I own, it didn’t take me long to realize that the fastest way to get to a zero TBR is to get rid of what I own and stop buying new books.
I went more in-depth about culling my TBR in a previous blog post, Tips for Tackling Your TBR, but I also want to talk about cutting back on buying books, and how getting rid of a whole bunch of books has helped me do that. As it happens, the more books I got rid of, the more I realized there was a pattern to my buying habits that resulted in my buying all of these books that I’m not super excited to read.
For me, I try to buy books because I think I’ll want to own a physical copy of it when I’m done or I can’t get a copy of it from the library and want to read it. That’s my goal, at least, but looking at my tbr shelves, I definitely haven’t been sticking to that. (I also buy books to vote with my wallet, so to speak, but that’s getting off topic.)
I think my number one bad book buying habit is to accumulate books at a discount. I’m especially bad about buying a big order from Book Outlet, but I’ve been known to do it at used bookstores in the past, too. Basically, if there’s a good deal, I buy up any book I’m interested in reading, even if it’s not something I necessarily want to get to right away.
I’ve noticed in the last few months, though, that I actually really like the convenience of reading on my kindle. It’s light and I can just toss it in my purse, and I can keep reading at night when my husband insists on going to bed before I’m ready to be done reading. So if I want to read a book that’s available at my library and I’m not positive that I’ll want a physical copy of it, I’d rather borrow it than buy a physical copy. It’s not that I’m not still interested in reading the books I bought, I just have little to no interest in reading them anytime in the immediate future, and since I’m lucky enough to have access to such a great library, I know I can always borrow a digital library copy when I feel like it. Honestly, I’d probably wind up reading the digital copy instead of the physical copy anyways, so there’s really no need to keep those books on my shelves.
Plus, those books will always be available to purchase later. I realize I speak from a place where I can afford to buy books when I want to, but if I love a book enough to want a physical copy for my shelves, I want it enough to be willing to pay full price for it.
Granted, this isn’t to say I’ll never take advantage of book deals again. I absolutely will! But I want to wait until my TBR is fully under control and buy those books knowing that I’ll be reading them in the coming months, rather than just accumulating them without thought because I want to read them someday.
My other bad buying habit is to buy books at author events. This one is so hard for me! I just enjoy author events so much and want to support the authors who are there, especially if I like what they have to say on the panel, and I’m lucky enough to live in New York where we have tons of book signings (have you seen my NYC signing calendar?). Plus I have an unexplained obsession with collecting signed books, so anytime I attend an author event, I wind up buying a book from a lot of the authors. I’ve definitely cut back on this habit, because I’ve known it’s been an issue for a while, but I still do it occasionally. The reality is that those books aren’t necessarily the ones I’m most excited to pick up, and that’s what I want my TBR shelf to be: things I want to read right away. And even though it’s tempting to tell myself that this is the perfect opportunity to get something signed, the reality is that the experience of getting something signed will be a lot more meaningful if I’ve already read the author’s books. And there will probably be other opportunities to get it signed in the future.
I’ve also noticed that I’ve bought an unfortunate number of books because a blogger or booktuber or someone I know was passionate about it and got me excited to read it, but I failed to stop and think about how similar our reading tastes are and whether I’ll actually like the book myself. Obviously it’s good to try new things and read outside my comfort zone, but I just wound up with too many of those types of books that I didn’t really want to read anytime soon. Plus, I could get them from the library, soooooooo there was really no need to hold on to them.
My last bad buying habit that I identified is that I have a habit of buying books I feel I should read and using them as a physical reminder to stop putting that book off. And then I wind up donating it anyways. Again, I don’t think doing this every once in a while is bad, as long as I don’t let it sit on my shelves for ages and slowly build up a collection of those types of books, which is totally what I did in the past.
Anyways, it was really interesting to notice these patterns as I was unhauling a bunch of books from my TBR, and I think identifying those bad habits will help me question whether books I buy in the future fall into those categories (and how many in those categories I already own). So far, it’s helped me cut back on a lot of book buying! Plus, any time I get super tempted to buy something, I look at the books already on my shelves and the books I already have checked out from the library. Seriously, how do library books pile up so quickly? I could have sworn I only checked out a few, but somehow there are 12 on my kindle right now…
What are some of your bad book buying habits? Let me know in the comments!