My Book Buying Habits

I’m taking a break from Top Ten Tuesdays to attend to another bookish meme doing the rounds. This is a questionnaire of Book Buying Habits I came across via Karen at Booker Talk.

1. Where Do You Buy Your Books?

My book sources have changed a lot over the years as I have moved around and as the industry has changed. Currently, I mostly buy from three sources. First, local stores, which, where I live, are mostly of the discount-type but with a surprising number of books I want. There is one new store of the independent(ish)-type, but it has a disappointingly limited range compared to the independent stores I was used to. The very large stores you find in the CBD don’t live out here. Second, second-hand stores and local markets; which is new to me since I used to avoid them (more on that below). Third, online; which is also new to me since I used to avoid that too.

2. Do You Ever Pre-Order Books and If So Do You Do This In Store or Online?

If you mean ‘do I ever place an early order for a new book that is not yet available’? Then, no, I have never done that.

(My wife would like me to add here that when the Harry Potter books were first coming out, she would pre-order each new one which means she now has first-editions of most of them)

3. On Average How Many Books Do You Buy a Month?

Hmm. Looking back on past posts on this blog over the last year where I share my latest acquisitions, it would seem I average about 5-6 book purchases a month. That is not counting my prolific trip to New Zealand, which is a special case. It also does not count the books I buy for my daughter, or that my wife adds to our collection, or ‘other’ books – cook books, parenting books, etc. Otherwise it would be a lot higher!

4. Do You Use Your Local Library?

Unfortunately, no. I’ve never been a great user of libraries.

If there is a book I want to read, then I will probably want to possess it too. My reading definitely has a materialistic side. I don’t spend much on clothes or other aspects of appearance, especially since I became a stay-home-parent. I don’t spend much on a social life anymore. I don’t have any expensive hobbies – a restored car, golf, boating. Collecting books is my main materialist outlet.

So, I don’t use a library for the same reason I don’t read e-books. If I want to read it badly enough, I’d rather own a physical copy too.

Now that we are in autumn in Australia and my 2-year-old’s naps are moving further into the afternoon, I am going to make more use of our local library for morning story time and for her to browse (though she has an extensive home collection of her own!).

5. If So – How Many Books Can You/Do You Borrow At a Time?


6. What Is Your Opinion on Library Books?

I’m sure they are a great resource for people whose reading is not materialistic like mine.

If I were to use libraries for one thing, it might be for history books. New history books are pretty random in terms of topic; whatever takes the historian’s fancy that they can get a publisher interested in. There are many periods of history that have not been covered by a popular historian for some time.

The example I used to use was Napoleon, who has probably been over-covered in the past. Some years ago, the only new books on Napoleon that I would find only covered one aspect of his life – Waterloo, Trafalgar, Russia, etc. Single-volume, comprehensive biographies on Napoleon seemed to be things of the past. So, I was thankful when Andrew Roberts’ Napoleon the Great came out. I hear Adam Zamoyski is writing one too.

But since there are plenty of new history books to keep me busy, and since I’m not doing any research of my own, I am currently not in any rush to use a library to find old books covering periods now overlooked.

(My wife insists on me mentioning that library books are grotty! She hates opening one up and finding crumbs and eyelashes on the pages!)

7. How Do You Feel About Charity Shop/Second Hand Books?

It used to be that I avoided second-hand stores too. But I have discovered the joy of them. The reason is that there is a spectrum involved. While, it is true I would rather buy a book than borrow or download, and there are some books I will want a nice new copy of, there are also some books that I am reluctant to fork out $25 to buy new, books that I am not 100% sure about, or that I want to read once but don’t imagine becoming a favourite. I have even found some gems at second-hand stores – like a complete of the Raj Quartet in pretty much as-new condition.

8. Do You Keep Your Read and TBR Pile Together/On the Same Shelf or Not?

Yes. I never thought to keep them separate.

9. Do You Plan to Read All the Books That You Own?

Yes, but I have done the math, and, at the rate I read, it is questionable whether I would live long enough to read all the books I already own! And yet I keep buying more! I guess I am working on the theory that I will get better at reading faster, or that I will read much more in retirement, or that living to 120 is on the cards.

There are a handful of books I don’t intend to read – see my post on obsolete books.

10. What Do You Do With Books That You Own and That You Feel You’ll Never Read/Felt You Didn’t Enjoy?

There are not many books I own that I don’t intend to read apart from the few already mentioned.

It’s difficult to defend but I admittedly have difficulty parting with books, even the ones I didn’t enjoy. I’d rather keep them in a box somewhere than give them away! That being said…

11. Have You Ever Donated Books?

… last year I did donate some books for the first time and will probably look to release some more. They were mostly of the celebrity-biography kind, or the Michael-Crichton-John-Grisham-Stephen-King kind, that I read when I was younger but seldom read now.

I will look to part with some more. Once we married, there are some books my wife and I have more than one copy of. How many copies of Jane Eyre do you really need? (the answer, apparently, is 3!)

12. Have You Ever Been on a Book Buying Ban?

Pfft! No!

I used to have a rule that I would only buy a new for every book I read, but, once prices started coming down in recent years, a floodgate opened and I have not been able to close it.

13. Do You Feel That You Buy Too Many Books?

Sort of.

On one hand, if it is true that I cannot read all the books I already own before I die, that probably does qualify as ‘too many’. I do feel a little guilty when I buy books – but only if I buy something that wasn’t on my radar or if I take advantage of a sale and buy a few at a time. And there are days when I feel like I am being a little obsessive, acting out of addiction.

But on the other hand, trying to read all of these before I die sounds like a great way to spend the years! And, despite the guilt about how many I buy, I do think I am discerning; there are not many that I regret buying. And despite the obvious materialistic side, I am not buying books to have; I am buying them to read and I am reading them.


  1. Haha! Great picture! And I sympathise with the need for three Jane Eyres – I think I have three Pride and Prejudices – and of course, an extra copy on my Kindle… for emergencies! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Does your wife’s distaste of library books also extend to second hand copies – aren’t they also coming with signs of previous owners?
    I’m in the land of multiple copies too – 3 of Middlemarch, Return of the Native etc. some of this is my fault because I was buying so much that I would forget what I’d bought and then see a copy in a charity shop and buy it all over again….


    • Probably – she does not buy many second-hand. I think I’ve only once bought a book I already had a copy of by accident. I keep a list of titles I’m after in my wallet which usually keeps me safe! My reason for 3 Jane Eyres is that I have one with a nice cover that was the first one I read, but it does not have explanatory notes, one Penguin classic version that does have notes, and one leather-bound version just to give it a place of honor as a book both my wife and I mutually love.

      Liked by 1 person

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