Beg, borrow, or steal – do you buy your books?: Musing on reading


This is a quick response to a recent post on the always excellent ‘Books, Brains and Beers‘ blog, where Matt recanted from a previous 12 month old post where he made this shocking statement:

I’m giving up on buying books.

He indicated in the recent update that this was the post he was most embarrassed by, but methinks he judges past-Matt too harshly (of course sometimes our past selves are just jerks).Personally, I don’t think the earlier post was embarrassing, and it made some good arguments. Well, at least arguments that I agree with ‘to some extent’. In my view, it is not necessary to buy *every* book you want to read. In the interests of cash, space, and marital harmony, I think being selective is a good thing.

So I approach my book acquisitions in categories:

  1. Books that I don’t need to own: This is the biggest category. I need to be selective, and if I can, I will avoid buying a book if I answer no to both these questions: Will I re-read it? and Do I feel I *should* buy it?. Many of these are classics – well known, well respected, well reviewed books, or alternatively they might be books that are a step or more outside my preferred genres and that I’m not willing to drop the cash on in case I don’t like it. I don’t feel any obligation to purchase these – indeed in regards the classics, I figure the author doesn’t need your cash (either being rich or dead). For these, I hit friends, relatives and libraries.Examples include Capote’s In Cold Blood, Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I put Harry Potter in this category too, as I’m sure JK will struggle on without my money.
  2. New/newish authors I want to support: As a wanna-be writer, I do feel a moral obligation to support other authors, particularly new authors. Where I find out about a book that I think I might be interested in, I look for reviews, then provided I see more of what I want to see, I will purchase that book to give the author a shot. It’s not really a gamble, as I research pretty thoroughly.Examples include Lauren Beukes The Shining Girls/Broken Monsters – a double pack purchase based on a brief review of Broken Monsters by Stephen King

    and Chuck Wendig Blackbirds. Interestingly I had read and bought his writing advice, but none of his books – so I checked reviews (including this one by Matt) and bought it shortly afterwards.

  3. Collector-holism (or my name is KT and I have a problem): I admit it – I occasionally get obsessed and collect things. These things I am compelled to purchase, with very little reference to any of the logic I applied above. I have a plastic tub full of old role playing books (seriously full – I have no hope of lifting it) some of which have seen very little play (Dungeons and Dragons 3 & 3.5 ed and almost all the ‘Wraith the Oblivion’). I am collecting the Black Library Horus Heresy books, and have the entire Dark Tower series (including two copies of a book I bought twice, because the cover of the first one didn’t match the others I had). I’m not buying or reading any of the Game of Thrones Books until the whole series is finished, at which point I will just buy the lot as a boxed set (I love boxed sets).

    These are the most troublesome category, and the most difficult to justify/control. I try to resist more than I used to, but its not always easy.

So how do you manage your book purchases? Are you are lover of second hand novels, or does the pristine binder of a newly printed tome hold more appeal? Do you still support your library (FYI – libraries are great for kids books and kids toys)? Do you have ‘go to’ authors that you simply must buy?

On a health related note, I think the fever is finally cracking, so I hope to get back to more creative activities tomorrow! I’m conscious that I’m falling behind on the Friday Fictioneers (it looks like a hell of a challenge this week)!


7 thoughts on “Beg, borrow, or steal – do you buy your books?: Musing on reading

  1. Glad to hear you’re feeling better! Seems like you’ve had that fever for a week!

    I’m a straight eBook purchaser, if I can help it. I’m not patient enough to dig through stacks of books and I don’t particularly like having “stuff” collecting dust around the house. I also really like the idea of carrying ALL THE BOOKS on a thin little ereader like I’m freaking Picard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – I’ve actually only been sick a few days, but I can whine at the rate of 3 normal men (its kind of a superpower).

      You review quite a few classics and old sci-fi books – are these readily avail on ebook, or do you borrow these?



      1. Well, I’m glad you’re getting better.

        Surprisingly, about 90% of what I review is available on ebook. Several groups are working to try to keep these old stories alive through the digital transition.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm, thanks for pardoning my past transgressions. I bought so many books for so many years that I could never hope to read them all, a fact that I think you may have witnessed (via Twitter) when I cleaned off some of my shelves one weekend. I’m trying to be selective in my purchases, although it’s no big deal to me to spend $2 on an ebook. I find that I *do* want to own print copies of some of my favorite novels, though, for instance, Alif the Unseen, or Deathless. I use the library far more than I used to, and I think everyone is better off for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was hardly the most heinous of crimes 🙂

      I did notice your purge recently – and its something I should do myself. I don’t have too much I need to get rid of, but there are a few pulp horrors that really don’t deserve the shelve space.

      Yeah, rediscovering my early love of the Library. I was lucky enough to grow up with a good one, even though I was in a regional area.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Since becoming an avid kindle user, it’s all too easy to click the “buy with 1 click” button on Amazon. So I usually buy e-books, though I do enjoy the lending feature that exists for kindle users (and probably other tablets).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Allison

      I’m seeing a trend in the comments, seems like ebooks are the popular choice :).

      Personally I like to stick with physical books, but its less ‘technophobia’ and more ‘setting an example’. I’m really conscious of the ‘reading example’ I set for my kids – they get books every night, and the three year was overjoyed when he got a bookmark (not that he really knew what it was for, but he knew daddy had one).

      I figure, that when I am reading a book, its obvious what I am doing – Im reading. However when Im on a device, its less clear – am I surfing? am I facebooking, tweeting? Im sure my view will change as they get older, and more able to distinguish what adults are doing, but for now, Im sticking with paper :).


      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s