Posted in Discussions

Why I Use the Library and Not the Bookstore

“The Queen waited.”

First line in The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Hi, fellow readers. Today I want to talk about the topic of borrowing books vs. buying them. Since I discovered booktube and book blogging, it’s come to my attention how many people buy everything they read. Or almost everything. I’m so astounded every time I see those giant book shelves in the background of booktubers’ videos or in a blog post. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with owning so many books (it’s awesome actually), but it has made me realize how I’m the odd one out.

About 95% of the books I read, I borrow from the library. I do own books but only the ones I really like and therefore might want to reread. It means that I most often borrow the books first time I read them and then decide if I want to buy them based on how much I liked them.

In this post I want to discuss some points about borrowing books vs. buying them. There are drawbacks to both but there are also arguments that make both completely valid. In the book community, it can sometimes feel like there’s this great pressure to buy every book you hear about. This post is mainly just to say that’s it okay if you do, but it also perfectly fine is you don’t want to or are able to do that. You can still be a successful blogger, booktuber etc. Let’s discuss some of the problems with using the library but also some of the advantages.

Affordability

Yes, here we have a very strong drawback to buying books. They are kind of expensive, at least if you buy everything you read and need to have the hardback editions with the new beautiful cover (I know the temptation). A trip to the library is just the cheapest solution.

I also want to make a point here about the importance of supporting your local library. The level of funding and people’s usage of the library often go together. So even if you’re able to afford all the books you want, I still urge you to go to your library once in a while to support it. Not everyone can afford to buy their favorite books, and everyone should have the opportunity to read.

Blogging Life

When running a blog or a Youtube channel about books, your life is so much easier if you actually own the books you’re talking about. For example, if you’re going to review a book, you can annotate by using stickers or write in the margins. Those notes are also perfect if you want to reread some of your favorite parts of a book years later.

I also want to mention the problem of borrowing books if you want to participate in readathons. It’s doable but requires so much planning and maybe also some luck. The books you put on hold at the library might be unavailable and won’t come into your possession until after the readathon is over. I haven’t participated in any readathons because of this but I plan to try it out. My solution is to research when readathons are happening and hope the hosts publish the list of prompts early. I also want to focus on the month-long readathons instead of the very short ones.

The same problem goes for TBR posts. I mean, the library decides what I read. I basically just make some suggestions to it.

Shelf Space

Books can take up a lot of space in your apartment/house and that’s awesome. Who doesn’t want their own private library? I want it but I can’t help but think “What do I do when I need to move to a new apartment?”. The sheer workload of that makes me a little bit more hesitant when buying books. When I love a book, I don’t care about that. I will gladly destroy my back to move them.

A problem can also arise if you live with someone who’s oblivious to the magnificence of books. I live alone so my books take up the exact amount of space I want them to. I imagine not everyone’s partners would accept an entire wall or room dedicated to bookshelves. Maybe that’s the actual test of true love?

Supporting Authors

By buying books you support the authors in a very important way: financially. Being an author doesn’t exactly make you rich (unless you’re J. K. Rowling), and therefore sales are crucial for them to continue writing books.

Authors also get paid when a library buy their book but not as much obviously as if it was bought in a bookstore. I live in Denmark and here authors also get a small commission every year as long as the library has their book on their shelves. The more books you have, the more money you get. In that sense, it’s not dependent upon how many times people borrow those books. Such rules differ a lot from country to country, so I think it’s a good idea to check up on the conditions for your country. You could be supporting authors financially without giving them your own money.

You can also support authors in other ways that don’t include buying their book at the bookstore. Rating their book on Goodreads and generally talking about it helps create buzz around the book so that more people hear about it. Maybe you reach someone who’ll want to buy it. 

Unhauling

Unhauling books is a very convenient tool if you end up with too many books on your shelves. Maybe you bought a highly anticipated new release that turned out to be horrible, so you want it off your shelf. Popular places to turn in your unwanted books are the library and used bookstores.

My own difficulties here lie in the fact that I’m a Dane reading books in English, which means that the books I would unhaul aren’t in very high demand. Sometimes I’m able to donate some books to charities that for a period of time will accept anything. Otherwise, finding new homes for my books can be quite time consuming which is again why I prefer to borrow them from the library.

I hope you enjoyed this first discussion post from me. It was just a topic I felt I had to touch upon because I sometimes feel like the weird one for using the library so much. I wanted to explain why. I just love going there and almost consider it to be my second home. I hope you want to chat with me in the comments about this whether you prefer to buy or borrow.

9 thoughts on “Why I Use the Library and Not the Bookstore

  1. If it was not for the library and ARCs I would not be able to read or have a blog. I completely get it. Even if my situation changed I would continue to use the library before I bought anything. That is why all the preorder hype does not make sense to me. I feel really bad that the publishing world puts so much pressure on authors around preorders. Unless it is an author I’ve read consistently I won’t do it. I will ask the library to order it if it will help them, for sure. But I won’t buy it till I have read it and love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That preorder thing is also such a weird concept to me. I don’t see myself ever doing it. But as you say it’s the publishing companies. They have to use every tool to make us buy their books.
      But good to hear that someone else also appreciate the libraries

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah it is very backwards. It would make more sense if they did it after the book was released to gauge how much people liked to book? Or if the book is a series… maybe before the second book is released?

        But yes! I think libraries are very under utilized by those who have access to them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That would make more sense yes. I’m not sure that would sell more books though and isn’t that what it’s all about for the publishers? Maybe I’m just being cynical but preordering just seems like part of a marketing strategy. Whether people then like the book or not doesn’t matter too much.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I really relate to this. I get almost all of my books from the library, too. Particularly ebooks from Overdrive nowadays. I definitely know what you mean when it comes to making TBRs, it’s kind of impossible when you can’t predict what’s going to be available.

    I’m really glad to know there’s other readers on here that primarily use the library, too.

    Wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a really interesting post and one that I do think is important. There can be the misconception that to be a bookworm you have to own hundreds of books but that is definitely not the case!
    Personally, I tend to prefer ebooks but I have recently discovered that my library has an ebook library too which has been so useful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and I very much agree with you about that misconception. It’s really just a matter of personal preference and prefering ebooks doesn’t make anyone less of a bookworm. I’m also able to borrow ebooks from my library and it’s just a wonderful thing.

      Liked by 1 person

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