Thursday, October 14, 2010

Slightly-More-Frugal Book Buying

OK, confession time:  I really love books.

This is a problem for my frugal and sustainable cred, because I don't just want to read them; I want to own them.  While the usual frugality no-brainer is to tell someone to use the library, there is just something about bringing home a new copy from the store.  I like the smell of the print, I like the feel of the book in my hand, and I like the look of it on my shelf when I'm done.

So, stipulated:  I should be going to the library more to support our local libraries, to save on print and transportation, and to help my budget.  If I simply must have a book, I should buy an e-reader and take advantage of lower-cost electronic copies.

However, right now, it ain't gonna happen.  I've been helpless to control myself in a bookstore since I learned to read at age 3, and I don't think it is stopping anytime soon.  (I should note that this is probably my parents' "fault."  While it seems that I had to justify the expense of a new toy if it wasn't a holiday, my parents went out of their way to facillitate my reading habit.  If I win the lottery, one of the first things I will be doing is reimbursing them for the first 18 years of trips to the library, to the bookstore, and even to the grocery store magazine rack and the drugstore comic book rack, all in the hope of feeding the monster that was my reading habit.)

So, if you are like me, I have a couple of tips to at least moderate the amount of book-buying that goes on:

1.  My first tip is so simple, I'm kicking myself for only thinking of it recently.  There are many books I see on the shelf that I want to read, but I am at least willing to admit that I don't need them in hardback.  However, most mid-list titles kind of disappear when they appear in paper, so I am always fearful that I will miss them.  Therefore, I'm tempted to buy the hardback.  To combat this, I've started taking a photo of the book on the shelf (as above) with my iPhone, then storing these photos in an iPhone file called "Books."  Periodically, I can look to see which of my titles are out in paperback, and I'll delete the photo when I've purchased or dismissed the book.

2.  Along the same lines, I make liberal use of my wishlist.  (Any readers who would like to support FC&G can send me a gift from that list -- just kidding!)  Sometimes, the book urge is satisfied by a wish list "shopping trip" in which I stock the list; sometime later, I can consider if I need a treat or if I can live without the books.

3.  Finally, not every book earns a permanent home on my shelves.  When I remove a title from my personal library, I sell it at a used book store.  This doesn't recoup much of my money, but it does help a bit.

The Analysis

Fast:  The first two ideas are relatively quick ways to help me control and pace my book-buying habit.

Cheap:  I'm the first to say that my new-book-buying habit is not cheap.  But hopefully I can control it into a manageable expense.

Good:  A book is always a good thing.
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  1. Any effort on our part that made it possible for your reading habits was well worth it and our pleasure.
    Love this blog post. It is so true about you.