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February 25, 2009


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When I read all the stories about people not buying books anymore I find myself perplexed and at odds over what that means. I for one buy books weekly, it's almost a mandatory box in my monthly budget. I also have two daughters that since they were tiny have always known that I don't buy them random toys or wish things, but books, books they can have as many as they want, whenever they want them. Finish a book, off to the bookstore we go for another sort of deal.
One thing I've wondered and find myself concerned about is chain stores like Hastings and their buy back programs. It's one thing to donate books to a salvation army and they sell's a whole different issue when someone buys a book the day it comes out, reads it, then sells it back to Hastings for a couple of dollars. Then the book buyer that comes in to get that title has the option of buying at retail a brand new book, or the used book 5 dollars less. I can't imagine the publisher or author gets any money in this transaction. That has to hurt the econonmy of books. (but I don't know for sure)


I've cut back on buying books lately, but not necessarily for a lack of money. I have no space to put them! My family is concerned that the floor of the room will collapse from the weight of all my books. So, I don't buy as many books for myself anymore. But I do buy plenty of books for other people!


There are many things I don't buy often (or at all), but books is definitely not one of them. The demise of Olsson's has reduced my book buying somewhat, but I've turned to Powell's (just have to wait a bit to get my hands on them). I'd happily give up all kinds of food and other entertainments to be able to keep buying books!

As for what I'd run out and buy today if I believed I wasn't going to be able to get books any more...hmmm...I'd probably make sure I owned a copy of each and every Newbery winner (I know our collection has a few gaps). I keep a running list of books I want to read, so I'd peruse that list and prioritize as my budget required. But I (and my family) would all keep reading!


Thanks for these terrific comments; I'm definitely preaching to the choir, here...


This made me think about how often I actually do buy books and the survey shows -- a lot! Well, at least 5 a month. Many of them for the children who are advancing readers and need fresh material.
We also go to the library at least once every 3 or 4 weeks for their programs and to see if there are titles they like that they may want to own.
I'm very big on trading and lending books, but like @Famin, have so many that the shelves are sagging.
And though I don't have a Kindle now, I could see adopting the technology for easy access to new books. I like books for the stories, the intellectual stimulation, the escape and am happy to consume them in whatever way is most convenient. As long as that method is sand proof :)

Bethany B.

I'm hesitant about responding to this... I think there's a lot of truth in what you say: people do undervalue books.

But also I have to say that I know readers bordering the edge of "true straits." They haven't stopped reading, but the library is suddenly very important. And in general, they've got less free time to read because they're doing those things they can no longer pay someone else to do for them (i.e. car repairs, homemade meals instead of prepackaged ones, mending/painting old items instead of buying new ones, etc.). Books, to me, are much more than a luxury, but they're still not on quite the same level as groceries, medical bills, and mortgages.


Bethany B., you have a very good point. I was addressing my rant more to people who are still purchasing luxuries like CDs, DVDs, Wii games, and movie tickets -- not at those who are trying to figure out which things to cut so that the necessities of life (health insurance, food, shelter) can be paid for in a timely manner.

S. Krishna

I've actually started buying books more since this whole publishing crisis began - just trying to do my part to help!

Laura Solop

Choir member. Your post really hit's home with me. “I don't believe hard-copy books and e-books are weapons of mutually assured destruction.” –Amen.

I have pondered how to develop an initiative to keep our books and their publishers alive. If you find an advocacy program, I’d love to be made aware. Thanks for using your voice to help keep this top-of-mind.

PS: Your book reviews are what enticed me to visit your blog. Great work.

Jake Olvido

People seem to undervalue books because most think that buying books especially in these trying times, is quite expensive, a luxury, and that book-reading is a time consuming activity that they'd rather do somethin else. More than buying books, there is a real need presently to let consumers realize the value of books and book reading for that matter--and the demand will just follow. If only hardcovers and paperbacks were like pieces of art which appreciate over time, the entire situation would be different! Anyway, starting a Booklovers' or Booksharers' Club might re-kindle (no pun intended) readers' interest for hardcovers and paperbacks... a sort of a balancing act for the e-book sharing trend.


I must be old school - I still buy books and newspapers and magazines. But here's the caveat: I trade my books through In a reversal of logic, perhaps, I can rationalize buying new books instead of going to the secondhand bookstore. I know I'll be trading these for other titles, so I'm willing to spend up front for good new literature.
Crazy, yes, but I'm a reader. It's crazy in a good way.

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