When Alexa and I were brainstorming our discussion post for this month, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It's been on my mind ever since we shared our 2014 reading statistics. One of the things we examined in that post was what we'd done with the books we bought that year. There were four main categories: Gave Away, TBR, Read (in 2014) and Read (Pre-2014). And it's that last category that I want to talk about today!
Prior to publishing that post, I was dreading the Books Bought Breakdown section. It was so embarrassing! I'd purchased a ton of books in 2014, and I couldn't justify the money I'd spent or adding more books to my constantly-growing TBR. While there was definitely some shock over how much I'd bought, several people were more surprised that I bought books I'd already read. And ever since then, I've been meaning to write a post on the reasons I do it, the reasons I shouldn't, and why it's ultimately worth it for me.
I bought 211 books in 2014. I know, it's insane. After all, that's why I teamed up with Alexa for the Picky Pledge! But of those 211 books, 37% were books I'd already read prior to buying. So, what about 2015? Since the last quarterly check-in was in June, I decided to look at my most up-to-date stats. As of today, I've bought 56 books in 2015. It's not the end of the year (and there's still room to grow), but I'm proud that it's 73% lower than 2014. I couldn't sustain that level of book buying! So, take a look at the breakdown:
Read (Pre-Buy) makes up the majority of my book purchases in 2015 at 45% (25 books total). Since this is clearly a habit for me, I wanted to investigate the why behind the what. I examined everything that I've purchased this year (and took a look at last year, too) and have come up with five reasons I buy books I've already read:
1. It's a book that I collect. I collect editions of my favorite classics: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I've recently started scooping up editions of The Hunger Games series, too, so that counts as another collection (though it's much smaller). These are the only books I have specifically started collecting! This year, for example, I've purchased four books that fall into this category.
2. It's a favorite that I'm buying in another format. This usually happens when I read a book on my Kindle and then desperately wish I had a copy for my shelves. I like being able to hold a physical copy of my favorite and see it in my home library. And I'll sometimes buy the Kindle version of a favorite if it goes on sale - so I can read it no matter where I go. This was the reason for six of the already-read books I bought this year!
3. It's a finished copy of something that I read for review. Blogging is definitely to blame for this one! If I loved a review book, I want the finished copy on my shelves. I enjoy supporting the author, and I prefer a hardcover (or paperback) over an ARC. I appreciate having access to ARCs (physical and electronic), but I have no desire to keep them once I'm done. I want the gorgeous copy! This year, I've bought nine books for this reason.
4. It's a special edition of something I love. This category is slightly different than collecting, though it's rooted in the same thing. If I see a special edition of one of my favorite books, there's a good chance I'll seriously consider buying it. I will often buy pretty editions of classics for this reason, though it can come into play with recent releases, too. I've purchased five books in this category this year.
5. It's a book I want to re-read but don't own. In this case, that usually means I originally got the book from the library or it was a book I read when I was younger but gave away/lost at some point. I was even more ruthless about culling books when I was a kid, and that's led to a few wholes in my personal library. That's the reason I bought The Little House series a year or so ago! There's only one book I bought for this reason so far this year.
I don't usually regret buying books I've already read, but there are a few things I've learned to ask myself first:
1. Why do I want this in my collection? Some people want every edition for their collection, but I want to be a little more selective. I don't want an ugly copy of Pride and Prejudice just because I collect that book. I want to buy editions with covers I love, from places I've visited or from people who give the copy special meaning.
2. What's the benefit of owning it in this format? I try to make myself pause before buying a book I already own in a different format. There's no reason to have two formats if I'm only going to read the book in one! But if I think it's worth it to own the audio, have it on my shelves, or available on my Kindle, I'll take the plunge.
3. Is this really a favorite? When I first started getting ARCs, I was a little too quick to buy finished copies of the books I'd read for review. I thought more about supporting the author than I did about whether or not this was something I'd re-read in the future. Thankfully, I've gotten better about being picky with this category!
4. What's so special about this edition? I try to think really hard before buying a book for this reason because I don't want a bunch of mini collections of the same book. But I do love owning a gorgeous edition of a favorite! Often, I'll cull my original edition if it doesn't have sentimental value so I don't have multiple copies.
5. Will I re-read this book? I actually ask myself this question whenever I'm buying a book I've already read - no matter the why behind why I want it! It makes sense for me to buy books I've read before because I love to re-read. Otherwise, there's no reason for me to spend my money on it! This answer is the most important.
I know a lot of readers want to keep ALL THE BOOKS, but that's not my style. I like my home library to have only my favorites, which includes books I'll re-read and books with sentimental value. So, I'm constantly culling books from my shelves. That's one of the ways I thought the Picky Pledge could help: there would probably be less to cull if I was picker about what I bought. I have a bad habit of purchasing books on a whim, and it often leads to stuff I want to get rid of later. Personally, I'd rather buy favorites I'm missing from my library than a bunch of books I haven't read (and don't know if I'll enjoy). But I know it's probably contrary to how most people think!
I'm a huge fan of re-reading, so it makes sense for me to buy books I've already read and loved. If the opportunity cost (the only concept I retained from my college microeconomics class) of re-reading a favorite is the chance to read something new, I'm okay with that sacrifice. I'll never be able to read everything before I die, but re-reading is still a priority for me. And that's a big reason it's worth it for me to buy my favorites.
Kelly and I chose this quote for our graphic for The Re-Read Challenge: "No book is worth reading that isn't worth re-reading." And honestly, that's how I feel! I'll take favorites I can revisit forever over books that I'm done with once I close the last page. I want to read books that stay with me, that beg me to read them again, not stuff I forget only minutes after finishing. And I want to be surrounded by books that I love in my home.
I do occasionally regret buying books that I've already read - if I re-read and like them a lot less or just find my feelings for them fading over time - but it doesn't happen often enough for me to completely change this habit. If I didn't re-read, I probably wouldn't buy stuff I've already read... but I do!
Do you buy books you've already ready?
If so, is it for the same reasons I do or different ones?
If not, what do you think about this book buying habit?