August 12, 2015

My Biggest Book Buying Quirk


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?

11 comments:

  1. If I already own a book, I won't normally buy it again. However, recently, I bought a copy of The Hobbit for 20p even though I already own one, but because the one I already had was a limited edition and my books tend to get battered in my bag, I didn't want to ruin it. For books I get from the library I've never gone out and bought it afterwards.

    TheDonkeyInvasion - A Book & Random Blog!

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  2. I don't collect multiple editions of books except for Little Women and Emma (and that's pretty passive right now) and tend to only get multiple copies of other books if I end up being gifted one and can't pick just one copy to hold onto.

    That said, this post made a lot of sense to me because I try really hard to only buy books I've already read and loved (except rarely at signings) but don't already own (I'm also that person that will keep an arc instead of buying a finished copy a lot of the time).

    I wasn't really a book buyer until I started blogging and that escalated when I worked at Books of Wonder for 8 months because, hey, employee discount. And it was terrible. I have since given away or resold almost every book I bought while working at Books of Wonder. I've passed on every book I bought when I first discovered Book Outlet. I don't even hold onto books I trade most of the time.

    After noticing that habit about myself I'm trying even harder to not buy books I haven't read and loved since I know they won't stay on my shelves that long and I might not even read it in the end. I also have started tracking book purchases/gifts/arcs received in my monthly reading tracker posts on my blog which I think has been a big help in being more mindful of where my money goes.

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  3. I am exactly the same way. I rarely buy a book I haven't read unless it's an auto-buy author that I already love, the next in a series I'm reading, or I'm really, really sure I'll love it. Most of the books I read are ARCs or from the library. I don't collect very many titles, but I have several versions of my favorite classics, like Fahrenheit 451 or Brave New World or The Catcher in the Rye. I sometimes buy extra copies of books I love, that way if I loan a copy I still have one one hand. Sometimes I forget where a book is or just feel compelled to buy an extra copy -- like with Catch-22 or Notes from the Underground. Luckily, my partner is as idiosyncratic with his book buying quirks so he tolerates mine.

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  4. I didn't buy a ton of books during/right after college because I didn't have the money. I only bought FAVORITE authors and used the library a lot! But once I got my new job and moved to Northern CA, I went a tad preorder crazy hahah. I wanted to get all the books and support all the authors! But then I started noticing that the sequel and/or paperback would be coming out and I still hadn't read the hardcover I bought on Day 1.... I've changed my habits since then. I have some autobuy authors, but I try not to buy sequels before I've read the first book (even if it's such a good deal!). And I try to support debut authors but I'm a lot pickier with what I'll purchase. I'll also buy a book if everyone I know is reading and loving something (like Simon vs, Uprooted). Otherwise, I'm like you! I collect Wuthering Heights and Peter Pan editions but I only want pretty ones ;P I'll buy books I loved as library books because I want to reread them or just want them for my collection. I don't normally buy double in different formats, but otherwise I follow your bullet points. I need to be stricter though and cull more books! I love having lots but I want a more cultivated library. I have a LOT of books I've bought and received as gifts to read first though. But I've curtailed my spending/book hoarding habits a lot over the past year. And I'm requesting less ARCs even though I grabbed some good ones at ALA (my first conference! I had to). Your posts are always so awesome Hannah, this was no exception!

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    1. Plus I do this weird thing where part of me wants to take a chance on a book and find out I love it after I bought it because if I read it at the library and love it, I'm buying a book I already read and it feels like I'm wasting money... but I've been burned so many times now by the opposite that I'd rather the library-then-buy than buy-and-dislike.

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  5. I had an excessive book buying year in 2014 too. This year I'm using the library WAY more and only purchasing once I already know I like it. I'm a huge rereader too although I have purchased books for my library I knew I'd never reread. Gone Girl and We Need to Talk About Kevin are books I like being able to lend to other people. I want to TALK about them, but not great rereads.

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  6. I really like seeing your thoughts behind how you choose what books to purchase, H! They're actually very similar to how I decide on my end, and I'm surprisingly picky about buying books I've read to add to my library. I definitely think the questions portion of your post is extremely helpful!

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  7. I tend to rebuy books that are in series I love, that I originally bought as an ebook. For example, I own half of Vampire Academy in ebook, because the other half I borrowed from the library. Now that it's become one of my favorite series, I want to buy the physical copies to add to my library. Same with The Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices. I have those two series only in ebook format, and divided amongst my Kindle and iPad. I haven't done it yet, but I plan to buy the series as physical copies.

    Then there are the books that I'm missing copies of in series. I have all of the Bloodlines series in physical form, except from the first book (borrowed from library), and the fifth (ebook). So now I need to by those copies to complete the series on my bookshelves. I find that's the problem with buying ebooks. You try a book from a series you hear buzz about, and then wish you had bought the physical copy to own for your home library.

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  8. This is really interested because I know a lot of readers do buy books they've already read in order to support the author, but I do not. Not because I don't want to support the author, I DO, I just can't afford to, and that sucks.. I actually wrote a whole post on why I'm so picky over buying books I've already read, and also about whether my free marketing on my blog makes up for the so few books I buy, and how I buy them, and it definitely makes you consider the other side, your side! Such an interested topic Hannah, thanks for sharing! :)

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  9. Gah, how did I miss this post? Don't mind me just commenting after a month... Haha. I rarely, if ever, buy books I've already read. I'd love to, so I can support the author and also it's so fun having favorites on shelves especially if I'd ever want to reread them. One of the biggest reasons I'll purchase a book I've already read is if it's a special edition or a different cover. I love having them of my favorite book because they're all, well, different. But simply, I just don't have the money or SPACE for it. The space is a huge problem, especially since I'm not good at culling (trying to become better at it). I'd love to have physical copies of all the books I adore, but it's not possible right now. So I guess I'd say I do have this habit, but in very rare doses. :D

    Great post! I love how you're looking at your buying habits and asking yourself questions for better culling and spending. It's something I should really think about with my space problem.

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  10. Hey! I collect Pride and Prejudice books too :) Not just other editions, but retellings and variations as well. I've got more than a whole box now. At this point, I'm not so much collecting as already hoarding. When I get all the ones with the pretty covers I like, I imagine I'd buy even those with covers I don't like so much.

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