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LTB: Buying vs Borrowing

This week’s question comes from Jillian @ Jillian the Bookish Butterfly who asks—

How do you decide what books to borrow or buy?

Prompts: Do you buy a lot of books? Do you borrow books from a library, or from friends? What do you look out for in books you buy? Are there any book genres you typically buy more of? Do the types of books that you buy differ from the types of books you typically borrow? Do you prefer to borrow or to buy books?

So, if I had gotten around to writing this on Friday, my answer might have been slightly different, since I bought a bunch of books yesterday!

But typically, ordinarily, normally…I don’t buy books anymore.

I used to buy books ALL THE TIME. Borders was our favorite Friday night destination. We would go after dinner and hang out quite literally for hours. I would park myself in the mystery section, sit on the floor, and just…read. By the end of the night, I usually had $30 or $40 worth of books in my paws, and my husband usually more.

But this all changed when we got our first Kindles in 2010. For a while, I used Amazon points to buy all of our books. We put all our recurring charges on that card, and it typically generated $50 a month in points, which supported my book habit for that first year easily. But then, a couple of things happened that changed my outlook. First, library borrowing became available for Kindle, which was a damn revelation. I would say that for the next couple of years, we borrowed probably half of our books and bought the rest.

But after my husband died, I found that I just couldn’t justify the cost of buying books any longer. So now, my books generally come from three sources—libraries, Kindle Unlimited, and the Amazon First Reads books that I get for free every month. I might buy a $0.99 book every once in a while, but paying anything like full-price is rare anymore. Before yesterday, I had bought two books this year, both not available on KU or at any of my sixteen libraries.

Yeah. Sixteen. It’s practically a damn full-time job managing them.

But, anyway, I bought two books that I couldn’t get elsewhere, and paid a total of around ten bucks for them both together. So, still really not blowing my book budget.

But then this weekend, I read the “For Him” quadrology, which is available in Kindle Unlimited, and loved it so much that I threw caution to the wind and just bought the books. I knew that I would want to read parts of them every day for a while, and I didn’t want them taking up four KU slots. Plus, I wanted the author to get paid for real.

So, that brings the total number of books I’ve bought to SIX in 2022, out of 116 books read. So, I still borrow about 95% and buy 5%. Pretty happy with that ratio.

The Let’s Talk Bookish meme is hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion.

11 thoughts on “LTB: Buying vs Borrowing

  1. I’m sorry about your husband. It’s amazing how our habit changes. For me, I 30% buy and 70% book I get from NetGalley. Those 30% are books that are old popular or authors I love, or books I know I will enjoy. Mostly they are big publisher books that I’m sure not going to get in KU. My library doesn’t have most of those books either. I get lots of NetGalley widgets. It’s main reason why I still haven’t got KU subscription.

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  2. When did Borders go out of business? I hear so many people talk about it. I think it was either before my time or there was never one near where I live.

    I borrow graphic novels and manga from the library because their so expensive to buy. I buy most of my books at used book sales.

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    1. Looks like Borders finally went bankrupt in the fall of 2011; and it looks like my local store had closed that spring. Funny, I’d thought the local store had closed much further before the whole chain went under.

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  3. I really shoud use my library more. I still buy most of my books but the Kindle does help. It’s so expensive though now. I remember as a kid I’d get a $20 gift certificate (yes gift certificate not gift card lol) and get a TON of books. Now I’d be able to get one or two.

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    1. Right? I thought that a 6.99 price point was perfect. I just looked and the list price on Book Lovers (the paperback for goodness sake) is $17. It’s nuts.

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  4. I’d happily borrow books from a library if there were any libraries where I live that had any reasonable selection of books in English. Sadly there are essentially none.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear that! We are pretty lucky here in DC…every library system within about a 50-mile radius has reciprocity with every other library, so when you get one card, you can quite literally get fifteen others. So, I am drowning in libraries here…and so, so grateful for it. 🙂

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      1. Well, if I ever want to borrow an audio book or eBook, an old school buddy of mine is a librarian for my old home town library and she got me a card. But usually the ebooks I read are ARCs and I don’t do audio books hardly at all.

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  5. I was always fairly heavy on borrowing books from the library vs buying – because there’s no way I wanted to spend the money it would take to buy all the books I read. But for books I loved I’d read them first in hardcover from the library when they first came out and then pick them up a year or so later in paperback so I could reread them to my heart’s content.

    And I used to reread a *ton* — if I finished a book and didn’t have a new one from the library I’d grab something off my shelves and start rereading it. It was tracking my reading on goodreads, which initially didn’t support tracking rereads, that got me focused more on new books and cut way back on how much I reread.

    Kindle changed this somewhat in that I’ve largely stopped buying in-print mass-market physical books; though I do still pick up some physical out of print titles, or new reference style books. And with the reduction in rereads I’m getting what I’m reading from the libraries (in ebook when available) or from Kindle Unlimited (when I have a subscription). However, if I really liked the book I’m still likely try to buy it digitally once it has gone sufficiently on sale.

    And this year has been good to me with sales, so I’ve actually picked up 16 ebooks (but only 2 of them I hadn’t read first). So my purchase to borrow ratio this year is 25|75, but I’ve only read one newly purchased book, vs 48 borrowed ones (plus some long owned rereads)

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  6. I borrow most of my books from the Library, KU and Scribd. I do buy books if they are on sale, but I do not pay full price. Being alone and retired, I have a lot of other things to spend my money on.

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