I’ve discussed this off and on, but the short version goes like this: I don’t buy books that I haven’t already read except under very narrow and specific circumstances. Like, for instance, when Brandon Sanderson releases a new Stormlight Archive book. There is almost no circumstance in which I’ll regret buying a Stormlight Archive book. But 99.9% of the time, I don’t buy unread books, especially not new.
This didn’t used to be the case. Before late 2010/early 2011, I bought books all the time that I wanted to read. My culling project during that time period taught me just how much money I was wasting by pre-buying. I already used the library a ton, but I shifted to full-time library use for physical copies of books, and now, I only buy books that I’ve read and want to keep on my shelves. This latter bit narrowed even further in 2015 when I KonMari-ed my bookshelves and cut them down to around 100 books. I don’t know how many I own these days, but I periodically go through and cull out anything I no longer care to keep, for selling back to Half Price Books. The system works well for me.
Until I run into things like the Barnes & Nobles 50% off sale.
If you hadn’t heard, BN held a sale in the last week of December that was 50% off all hardcovers. There were a few books on my list that I hadn’t gotten over Christmas – actually, I didn’t get any books for Christmas this year, boo! – so I looked up if any were available at my local store. One of them – The Postscript Murders – was there, so even though I knew it was dangerous to go, I tiptoed into the book-opium den.
I got The Postscript Murders. I also grabbed a book I’d seen and thought would be useful, a mostly-cookbook focused on fueling for workouts. It was a book I was reasonably sure I could use, even if I hadn’t checked it out from the library beforehand. By then, though, I was enthralled.
You see, I love buying books. In spite of my strictures, a wall of possibilities is a thrill. I created those strictures because of how easy it is for me to spend money on the promise of a book I’ll enjoy, a promise made by a shiny cover and new book smell. And that last week in December, I succumbed.
I bought two more hardcovers. One – Where the Truth Lies by Anna Bailey – was a complete unknown and a random choice from the Wall O’ Books. The second was Cackle by Rachel Harrison, a book already on my radar, already in my library hold queue to investigate. Did I need this book? Absolutely not. I would have gotten it within a few weeks from the library. Did I want it? Yes. Very much yes. The premise was exciting, and the cover is to die for.
Tbh, I thought about taking some time to read the first five pages of these two books, just to make sure the writing didn’t drive me crazy before I spent money on them. But BN was too crowded, and they were 50% off, and I decided to just go for it. You see, this is why I don’t normally buy books. I make bad decisions when I impulse-buy. I decide “what the hell?” and then I blithely bring books home that I may regret. Like Cackle. Because despite the pretty cover and interesting premise, the writing and characterization drove me crazy. Everyone was a caricature of a person, the dialog and interactions were so unrealistic, and the story didn’t even end up being interesting! I would have easily known within five pages – perhaps even one page – that this wasn’t the right fit for me. But noooooo, I didn’t bother to preview the book. I just spent money on it, and then because I spent money on it, I kept reading long past when I would have stopped normally. I only stopped around the halfway point because I realized I was wasting my time on something I didn’t enjoy, in penance for wasting the money.
And so, I have my first abandoned book of 2022. Already. Abandoned January 3rd.
This. This is why I don’t buy books I haven’t already read.
I’d say live and learn but my Kindle bookshelf is full of books I shouldn’t have bought for a deal. *sigh* (and more than 75 percent I’ve never read and probably won’t)
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Yeah, I’ve stopped buying Audible deals at this point, too. I just need to catch up. Audible used to be easy to do returns if a book didn’t work out, and now they’ve changed, so I’m minimizing there too.
In the last few years I’ve become the same way about buying books. I work for a large library system so I have ready access to almost any book I want. I only keep ones that I truly enjoyed. It’s not even that they are ones I want to re-read (because I am not much of a re-reader), but because I like to see them on my shelves and remember how much I liked them, or I want them for reference.
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Agreed! I always say “books I might want to reread” but it’s really just books that bring joy. Like, I have a copy of What Alice Forgot on my shelf even though every time I revisit it (I reread quite often), it’s via audio rather than print. But I definitely need it on my shelf!
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