Musings From A Bookmammal

B is for BUYING vs BORROWING–The A to Z April Challenge/Day 2


BWelcome to Day #2 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post about BUYING vs BORROWING BOOKS:



book stackI’m a big fan of libraries, but I like to surround myself with the books that I’ve enjoyed. Books are definitely comfort objects to me, and I have bookcases in every room of my house except for the bathroom. All of them are filled to bursting! In one of my previous career lives I worked at a large chain bookstore and my employee discount allowed me to add so many great titles to my home library that I never would have been able to afford otherwise.

It’s been more than 12 years since I left that job, and these days I’m borrowing more books from the library than I’m purchasing. According to my Goodreads account, of the 28 books that I’ve read so far this year, 24 have been borrowed from the library. I’m lucky to have a great public library in my area that carries the majority of books that I want to read. Loan periods are for three weeks, with the option to renew if no one else is on the hold list for that title. I usually have at least five books checked out from the library at any one time—right now I’ve got eight library books at home.

I  still buy lots of books–it’s just that they’re the ones that sit on my shelves while I’m trying to get the library books read before they need to be returned! When I do purchase books, I’ll generally try for a used copy first, but I’m picky about the condition—I don’t want books that are soiled, torn, or look like they’ve been run over by a truck. I’ve found over the years that I want to own books that I’ve particularly enjoyed—it’s not uncommon for me to borrow a library book and then later purchase a copy to keep. I’m a big re-reader, and I just never know when I’ll want to revisit a book that I’ve really liked!

I buy lots of used books from abebooks, which is a sort of online clearinghouse for thousands of used bookstores all over the US and even some in Europe. This site makes it incredibly easy to compare the prices and conditions of just about any title—even out of print books. I’ll often wait until a book I want to own comes out in paperback—then I’ll go online and can usually find a nice used hardcover copy for much less than the price of a new paperback. Granted, you take a risk when you buy used books online, but I’ve only been disappointed a couple of times over the ten years or so I’ve been an abebooks customer.

If I can’t find a used copy of a book I want to own, then I go with Amazon or the local B & N. I really only buy new if I just CAN’T WAIT for a book to come out in paperback, or if it’s a book by one of my favorite authors. I’ll also buy new books if I feel like splurging a bit–there’s not much that’s more fun than going to the bookstore, wandering around to see what catches your eye, and then leaving with a pleasingly heavy bag of books!

How about you? Do you usually buy or borrow the books you read? Where do you do your buying/borrowing? Please share!

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

37 thoughts on “B is for BUYING vs BORROWING–The A to Z April Challenge/Day 2

  1. These days I mostly read books by indie and self-published authors on my kindle. I do buy e-books from Amazon but as I have a book review blog I’m also lucky enough to get lots of books to read for free. I only use my local library when I need a reference book.

  2. great B-post BM! 🙂
    For me, I buy books these days, borrowing from library has almost become a thing of the past now :/

  3. Great post 🙂
    I’m probably borrowing more books that I buy, perhaps two a week? I’m really poor right now being out of work so the only books I buy are special/signed ones for giveaways. Thank goodness I get review copies or I’d run out of books! I’m sorry to say that the libraries near me (across three different counties!) are pretty poorly stocked 😦

  4. I usually buy books! My local library doesn’t have a wide range of books and I don’t know any used bookstore (physical or online) that ships in Europe… It’s a bit harder if you want to read english books in a country where it’s not the local language. I usually just buy books online on amazon or sth!

  5. I typically buy the books I read, usually from my local bookstore. Our public library is beautiful, but doesn’t have a lot of the books that I still want to read. Most of the books in the YA section I have read already, but they are getting better at getting copies of newer releases. I really should utilize the library and the inter-library loan system more often.

    I will have to take a look at abebooks online! Thank you so much for sharing that resource!

    • It’s funny, but my library is just the opposite–it looks very sterile and cold to me, but they have pretty much any book I want to read. I guess I’d rather have the books over the beauty. 🙂

  6. I’m definitely going to be visiting your blog daily–I love all bookish topics! 😀 I have a huge stack of library books, and you’re right, because of that stack, the new books I bought get unread for a little while longer. Or, if I have a new book I just have to read, my library books get renewed! It’s a challenge. I miss the university library where I did my grad work–I could get almost any book. Now, I’m in a place where the selection is more limited, but for the most part, I do spend a lot of time at the library. This is a great topic for B!

    • Thanks for stopping by–come back and visit anytime!
      Right now I’m in my usual quandary of having several books I’m anxious to read all come in at the library at the same time. Which to pick? It’s a problem–but what a good problem to have, right?

  7. I used to buy a lot of books,and now my bookshelves are full, like yours. Nowadays, I usually borrow books from the public libraries. I am looking forward to coming back for more of your A to Z posts.

  8. Great post! I normally find myself buying way too many books, but I think that I really should try borrowing some from my local library. Thanks, you’ve inspired me!

  9. I need to borrow more from my e-library.

  10. I don’t buy books. Once I have read a book I won’t pick it up again. The same way with movies and TV shows. I am not a re-watch person either. Mostly I download free books on my Nook Color. I wish the library would allow e-books for longer than 3 weeks. I can’t always read a book that fast! Love your topic

    • Isn’t it interesting how people can be so different? I am a HUGE re-reader and I LOVE being surrounded by my books. It just goes to show that there’s no one “right way” to enjoy reading!

  11. First let me say how much I LOVE your blog header. Can I live there please!
    My library is so light on the romance angle and they often mix up YA and romance together. That kind of frustrates me. I have borrowed a lot of audio books from the library though. I just love being to listen to a book while I go on the treadmill or walk the track. Time just flies by.

    • I’ve caught the audio book bug over the past several months–I have a pretty long commute to work every day and I’ve really been enjoying listening to audiobooks that I load onto my iPod from my library.
      (I want to live in the library on my header, too!)

  12. Our buying/borrowing habits sound very similar! In March I tried to do a “Read Only Books You Own Challenge,” and it was horrible. I managed to read 10 books I own, compared to my normal 4 per month, but I still ended up reading 4 library books. PLUS I would go on my weekly library visit just to touch the books, then leave empty-handed. It made me sad.
    And thanks for stopping by my Blind Date with a Book post!

    • Oh my gosh–that kind of challenge sounds more like a punishment! I know I have enough not-yet-read books at home to keep me reading for a month, but I know I’ve never gone that long without bringing something new to read into the house!

  13. It depends on the book–if it’s been out for a bit, I’ll just borrow it from the library. If I want a newly released book, I’ll buy. But when I do buy, I go Kindle. It’s cheaper and my older kindle has a read-aloud function (not whispersync!) so I can be read to when I get migraines 🙂 I also borrow a ton of audio library books too!

  14. I love buying books! I can’t do the same thing with borrowed books that I do with the books that I own. And sometimes, when i’m unsure of a book, I get the PDF or a MOBI of it and read it on my iPad or Kindle and if I liked it, I’ll buy the paperback or hardcover..

  15. I live in a small house and work in a public library. The only books I buy are reference books (photography, computer, cookbooks, etc). I used to occasionally buy a book for an upcoming book club meeting but realized that I didn’t like any of the books I owned and stopped.

    • I can see why you’d place a priority on only buying reference books that would be referred to again and again if you just don’t have a lot of book space.

  16. I much prefer to borrow books as I rarely reread. It seems like a waste to buy them and read them just once. I usually only buy books that I have already read and loved enough that I will reread them in the future.

  17. I almost never buy new books unless I’ve already read them — those are borrows-first for me. Part of this is finances — once I have more money I will definitely buy more new. But I also love the freedom and flexibility of the library, the low-risk trying out of new things. I currently have around 40 books out from the library, plus the 1500+ I personally own. Part of that is some research I’m doing — libraries are good for that! I live in a small city (by world terms — it’s the biggest in the Maritimes!) in a small province, but all the province’s libraries are connected, including the university ones, so I can request any book in the system. *And* drop it off anywhere in the system, which is also pretty amazing. Having come from the university world, I was worried about losing that resource until I discovered I could use the libraries with my public library card.

    I keep trying to read through the books I already own, but I’m such a big re-reader that it takes a while at times to get into new authors, because I’ll go on a cycle through old favourites first. I do buy a fair amount at used book sales — I love the treasures you can find. Any trip I take I get new books, too, as a souvenir.

    • WOW–40 library books at a time–there’s a limit of 15 at my library. I usually have about 5-8 out at a time and that always seems about right.
      I know what you mean about cycling through favorite authors and re-reading–sometimes you just want to visit an old favorite!

      • I’m not sure what the limit is, actually. 100, maybe? I’ve never hit it, at any rate. I usually end up with some overdue and take a bunch back at once. And I don’t always have this much out, I’m doing research.

  18. I love how your house is stuffed with books. Haha. I prefer buying over borrowing because like you, I like having my favourite books around me.

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