For many years I only got my books at the library. Then I went through a phase of only getting my books from Barnes & Noble, and then I shifted to only shopping for books online, mainly Amazon. Lately though, I have returned to my roots and have gone back to getting my books primarily at the library.
The main reason: it is so. much. cheaper. I won’t lie and say that’s not the main reason I’ve switched to library-books only. But another reason is the fact that from this year forward I’ve decided to be more consciously aware of where my books are coming from and to support independent booksellers and libraries.
Back when I was mostly shopping on Amazon, I was going through a decidedly selfish phase. When a new book came out that everyone wanted to get their hands on I would order it ASAP (sometimes pre-order) and request two-day shipping just so I could have it. Never mind that I usually wouldn’t read it for months as it would go straight to the bottom of my TBR list which is never ending.
Libraries are different. While most libraries do obtain copies of new releases (at least the libraries I frequent) they only have a limited supply. Which means that unless you somehow are one of the first to get online and request a copy, you could be waiting a very long time before that new book is in your hands. For example, when The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo came out, by the time I requested it at the library there were already upwards of 30 holds on just five or six copies.
But this is a good thing! By the time the library emailed me and said a copy was available for me, I’d almost forgotten I’d even requested the book. When I went to the library to check it out and was finally holding it in my hands it was like Christmas morning. Really. I was so pumped about finally getting to read that book even though I didn’t even attempt any of the organizing/cleansing techniques Marie Kondo preached. (I just wanted to read about it, I didn’t actually want to do any of it).
I am pretty sure I would not have enjoyed that book as much if I’d gotten it fresh off the press from Amazon 48 hours after its release. The waiting was worth it. And I hadn’t had to pay $24.99 (or whatever it was).
Lastly, I’ve noticed another benefit of switching back to library books: I have been reading books so much faster when I check them out at the library versus buying them new. The fact that there is a time limit on how long I can have the book propels me to read more quickly than I normally would. So in the last few months I have read a lot more books than I normally would have if I was just lollygagging around buying books left and right and adding them to my stacks.
I won’t say I abstain from Amazon 100% because I still do make purchases through their site from time to time. If I really, really, really need to have a book I will sometimes buy it online, but this year I’m going to do my best to make the independent bookstores in my area my first destination for buying books.
Where do you get your books? Are you strictly an online buyer, a devoted library supporter, or a little of both like me?