Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Writers Weigh In: Buy vs. Borrow

Well, here we are again on Wednesday and yet another opportunity to "Weigh In" with other writers and make your opinion heard.  Afterall, last week's Earth shattering results probably changed your life, no?  Well, at least  you had fun...that's the point!

Today is about how you obtain the books that you read. 

See, I struggle with this topic in my personal life, a lot.  I don't have a ton of money, so I tend to not buy a lot of books and I rely heavily on my public library to provide books for me (believe me, my name is always on the "hold shelf" for something.)  Not to mention, that libraries need our help in this day and age...I want to support them.

But, as a writer I want to support other writers and actually buy the books.  Plus, I recognize that a book is special.  It smells good.  It feels good in my hands.  It looks good on a shelf.  Its all mine.  And bookstores need our help in this day and age....I want to support them.

So for this one, we are going to go with comments I know you all probably have your own system for deciding when to buy a book, when to borrow and which you do more often.

Feel free to re-post, tweet, provide a link so we can get as many writers as possible commenting.

So...Buy vs. Borrow....Writers Weigh In!


  1. I have the same dilemma. I try to buy when I can, remember my favorites as gift ideas for others, and use whatever platform may be available to me--facebook, twitter, my blog--to promote those books that I think deserve the attention. I give particular attention to the ones that may not have gotten huge amounts of publicity.

  2. I like to support the library, and I do get a ton of books there, but find it very frustrating when none of the branch libraries anywhere in the city has the book I want -- yet some little town has it in their library! Fortunately, we have a province-wide system that allows for easy inter-library loan (although I'm concerned that may be raising taxes in the small towns...)

    Besides that frustration, I tend to want to read newly published books while they're new, and I love to have my own copies of things, so I buy far more books than I probably should (and I'm not even supporting an indie bookstore by doing so, since our last indie store closed a couple of years ago). I generally end up buying a lot of books, then taking a stack (especially picture books) to the kids' unit at the local rehab hospital every now and then.

  3. I have the same problem. Add to it the problem of space - no room to store and display all those lovely books! I tend to buy fiction - books I know my kids or other family members will want to read that we can share around. I just got a Kindle and am trying to get used to it - for the sake of that space I mentioned! - but it's not my first choice. I like to have and hold books, support authors, and my local independent bookstore. I but way more books than I should - just like Beth!

    That said, when I need to do research, I rely heavily on the library. I also do a lot of picture book reading there now that my kids have outgrown them and I'm waiting for my granddaughter to grow into them :)

    1. As a dweller of a NYC apartment, I relate to the space issue.

  4. At the risk of raising someone's ire, I NEVER use the library, ever. I did when I was in high school, but since then, I buy every book I read, always hardcover or trade paperback. It's just a personal thing. I don't like libraries so much (and my aunt is the town librarian, hehe), and I really don't like waiting lists. If I want to read something, I must have it right now. I don't have a Kindle or any other device, nor do I really want one. And, unlike Beth, I don't give my books away. I'm a very selfish book hoarder, what can I say?! In my defense, I don't spend money on anything else - very few clothes, no movies or entertainment, etc. In fact, I'm not a consumer at all...except for books. I love my books.

    Ironically, now that I am doing PB reviews, I would like to have access to a library because I am having to buy a ton of PBs, sight unseen, which can be hit or miss. But there are no English-language libraries in my town, so buy I must (through Amazon Italy), though I read tons of reviews before placing anything in my cart. My boys aren't quite two yet -- they're going to have one heck of a personal library!

  5. In high school and in my early twenties I lived in the library because I had little money and no room to store books. But now that I'm settled (for the past three years) I have been buying books left, right, and centre. I love it! My office/living room is like a library.

    80% of my books come from Chapters and Amazon, 10% from second hand stores, 5% from my local comic book store and the last 5% I borrow. I don't have an e-reader and probably won't anytime soon.

    I rarely use the library these days. I was turned off because of the librarians at couple of my local universities as they refused to help. There are now these “automated librarians” where you can check books out and the actual librarians use to get annoyed when I came to their till to check a book out. One of the things I use to love about libraries were the librarians because they always wanted to chat about books. So now I go to Chapters where there is always someone to help me and always someone to chat about books with (this is how I discover new authors!). But I do support my local libraries; in the area I live in, every year at their fundraiser (being they are small town libraries) despite never actually using those libraries.

  6. I am a book ADDICT! I have to have them on my shelf. I love how a shelf looks when the books touch, spines out, calling me to come see what I can read today. I also sell books with Usborne. So I get to work with libraries and help them buy. I know the importance of books being circulated.

    And as an author, you do support us by checking out our books. If it's not there, REQUEST it!

    I know some great books librarians won't buy (budget) because they don't think it will circulate. But then people come in and ask for it, and they call me because it's now needed. So help your friends by going out and asking for it. :-)

    Great blog post!

    Debbie, /

  7. I love book stores. I love libraries. I love the smell and touch of real books, and the way it feels to browse through them in the presence of other book-lovers. I love the way words look on a page -- a real page.

    And yet. Yet. I too often buy on Amazon. It's easy and it's simple. I endure a stab of self-loathing when I press that BUY button, and yet...

  8. I buy a lot of books as gifts, and I buy a fair number of picture books for my kids. However, I trade most of the middle grade and up kind. Just the other day, I wanted to start reading Harry Potter to my kids and I realized I didn't own a copy of the book in English (although I have it in German). How did that happen?

  9. Also a friend of mine swears by the read it twice rule... If she reads the book twice, she goes and buys a copy.

  10. I most often buy a book I want, and I support an indie children's bookstore when I buy kidlit. I research at the library, but have found I wanted to go back to that reference for just "one more thing," so I often buy the books I use for research. I LOVE the Library Friends used book sales, and come home with piles of them. When Son moved out I turned his room into a library.
    Kathy Cannon Wiechman (Swagger Writers)

  11. Wow I never thought about Debbie's point to request a book that the library doesn't carry. I'm going to do that from now on!

    I buy WAY more books than I take out at the library, although I check out huge volumes of picture books too. For the most part, I buy any book I want to read for myself. I buy PBs that I need or want for research. I'll often go to the library to peruse books and then end up buying the ones I love!

    I buy books as gifts too. I figure, it's the way I support the industry that matters most to me. I'm fortunate that I am able to do that.

  12. I probably borrow more than buy, especially with PBs, although I do buy books of all genres frequently for gifts. I buy books for myself on architecture, sculpture, travel, food because I know I will spend hours poring over them and referring back to them. I borrow anything pulpy that will eventually wind up on a spinner rack at the airport convenience store.

    Thank goodness for interlibrary loan! There's always something on the hold rack for me. Sometimes the staff grab the books that I am returning for their own personal reading pleasure! I agree that IL loan helps call attention to books that the library should acquire for its own collection.

  13. As a retired librarian and current book reviewer, I'm coming at this from a rather different angle - I often get too many books to keep!

    I rarely read a fiction book twice (there are soooo many still to read and review), so I might give a nice hardback or paperback book to a young friend or relative who likes that genre, author, or subject. Many of these published books go to school libraries to help support dwindling or nonexistent book budgets.

    Advance reader editions are a particular problem; since they're not final versions (lots of typos, no art, temporary cover), ARE/ARCs cannot be sold, so I can't give them to local thrift shop like other books. So I pass on ARCs to other librarians (to read & see if they want published version for their library) or to teen shelters and foster homes. In fact, some ARCs even include statement urging reviewers to give them to deserving kids/teens after the publication date.

    And if I know that one of my kids/grandkids will just love this ARC and it's been published, I've made the decision to buy the finished book for them & pass on the ARC to teen shelter - supporting the author & supporting young people who need their own books.

    (found you through MotherReader & Lee Wind's Comment Challenge)
    **Katy Manck
    Recommending YA books beyond the bestsellers at
    Follow me on Twitter @BooksYALove

  14. This is a great question! I never really thought of it in who-to-support terms before. I get books from the library because it's cheaper and ultimately more convenient in that I don't have space for that many books in my home. But I would like to support the authors I love. I'd like to find a middle ground, I guess....

  15. I borrow for myself if I'm reading for pleasure, but I buy if it's a book I love and/or know I'll read over and over again (for example, anything by Malcolm Gladwell). I spend most of my hard-earned cash on picture books for the kids, though we borrow tons from the library as well.