June 10, 2013

The Curious Reader - Are you on a book budget?

Books will cost a lot of money (unless you happen to have a topnotch library in town which I don't) which raises the question how to feed your family while at the same time indulging in some bookish splurges ...

Are you on a book budget?

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We've all been down the road of indulging a little bit too much in our bookish passion, thus making our bank account grown. Been there, bought that. Interestingly enough I never looked at book buying from the angle of actual money, but quantity of purchased books. Granted, I will usually gravitate towards paperback editions and in the past couple years I bought many books used, hence a whole lot cheaper, but overall my book buying habit is moored to the number of books I allow myself to buy and not an actual amount of money.

Scrooge, much?

Late last year, when I decided to reduce my book shopping sprees (mostly because I finally want to get those TBR piles under control), I was torn between doing sort of a semi-ban or the option of only having a certain budget available. Somehow the former won which I'd like to base on the fact that it's easier manageable to have a certain number of books I may buy each month than, say, having $20 which I may invest in as many, or few, books I want.

Still, despite not going the money-route, which in hindsight was a good decision as the combination of $20 and all those Kindle bargains would have done more damage than only being allowed to buy six books each month, I do wonder if this is something other bookaholics have tried out?

No one ever died of living on cooked potatoes for a full week. 

The hitch with going by a budget is that you have to make harder decisions when standing in front of those vast bookstore shelves. Brand new hardcover edition of one of your must-read authors? There goes Friday night's cinema trip. Your favorite trilogy in a leather-bound collector's edition? You'll walk to work the rest of the month because you won't be able to afford the fuel for your car. All right, I might be exaggerating, but only a little bit.

Maybe I should consider myself lucky, but I am the kinda gal who will appreciate a book that looks nice, but ultimately I'm all about what's inside and if this means reading a tattered old copy of a certain book, so be it. Cheaper often wins. That's probably the main reason why a book budget would hardly work for me. I could buy ten books while another person only gets one (yep, still thinking about the previously mentioned $20). Of course I'm nowhere near adding ten books to my TBR piles each month as, after a little bit of a debate with myself, decided that six was a good number for me personally. So far? So very good. I never bought more than my allotted six pieces and I even went some months without buying any book.

Six is my magic number. Books, not bucks.

How big is your budget for buying books? Or do you rather orient yourself on a certain number of books to buy each month? Anyone willing to share an estimate of money spent on books each year?

19 comments:

  1. I don't really have a budget, but I try not to spend more than $20 a month. Luckily with the Kindle I'm super picky about what I get, so I maybe get 3-4 a month. I've done good this year about avoiding physical bookstores.

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    1. I find myself looking for Kindle editions rather than physical books too these days. It's definitely a bonus that they don't need any space plus they are (mostly) cheaper too.

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  2. I have a budget i work with. Lately though I've been doing really good on not buying books (Even Kindle Freebies!). I do participate in a YA Book Exchange (a place to trade my YA books) & i participate on Paperback Swap. I also do giveaways and have managed to win a couple off my wishlist (or giftcards towards amazon) by doing that. Every now and then my local library will have a read that I've had on my wishlist that i'll borrow. If they have it and i don't want to borrow it right away i make note off to the side that the library has it.

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    1. Oh, tell me about those freebies ... I used to get so many just because they're free, but never get around reading them, so I am behaving now and only download them if I had already an eye on them before. And winning books or a GC is my preferred way of acquiring a book too! ;-)

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  3. I get as many books free from blog giveaways or for review as possible. Other than that, my budget is more of limiting the amount of money I spend on one book rather than limiting the total amount of money I spend. To a certain extent, the money I have for books is finite, so I try to stretch it as much as possible and spend less than $5 (and preferably much less) on any one book.

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    1. I am also a frugal book buyer - either waiting for the cheaper paperbacks or buying books used. I mean, you can get so many more books with your budget that way, right?

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  4. I am trying not to spend too much money after a book buying ban, but this time it did not work, so I spent more than the reasonable amount and now I promised myself I won't be buying any books till September. I do spend a lot of money on books, in comparison with the average Romanian, who does not seem to buy any, but I am not complaining about this, I am complaining about the lack of space and the fact that it is so hard to find other people interested in the books I read so I can offer them after I have read them...

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    1. No one's perfect and let's face it, when it comes to books neither of us has much willpower, hahaha! Actually that's not true, because this year I'm being very good in not overdoing the whole book buying thing (so far). BTW people who never buy books aka never read really scare me!!

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  5. I'm not spending that much money on books because there have been amazingly good and interesting books FREE for Kindle! And there are also so many cheap books for Kindle so I don't have a budget or certain amount of books I can buy. I just look for the cheap and free ones for Kindle almost every day (not that I buy them everyday, I just look for new ones!).
    I also request reviews in Netgalley.
    Since I'm from Finland, there aren't that many books in English in our local library (I read only in English) so I don't have an option of loaning them..

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    1. True, with all those Kindle bargains you can save a lot! I often wish prices for physical books could match this, but oh well.

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  6. I've tried banning myself from books a few times, and it usually lasts about a week. One issue I have is that I prefer to read classics in English and living in Sweden that is a bit of a problem since most classics are in Swedish. I do get quite a few from Manybooks.net - but I also prefer physical books to e-books.

    The other issue I have is that I like Russian literary literature (translated, of course) and these types of books are never free or in the library, so I often have to buy them. Public domain is, what, 75 years after publication, and there is so much great Russian literature out there just waiting for me to read it. I do ask my library to buy in certain books, but they usually only get the ones they think others may be interested in, which usually means a newly released English book that I want to read, but aren't sure I want to spend money on.

    I also spend a lot of time in used book stores where each book is 10 SEK (about $1.50) and on Friday I bought 8 books + ordered 8 online. I do have a problem with buying faster than I finish and I have calculated that I order books from the one Swedish website for roughly about 4000 SEK (about $575) yearly - over the part 3-4 years, I should add. Then I have no idea how much I order from Amazon and Play.com, but maybe abour 2000 SEK yearly. And then the second hand book stores about 1500 SEK yearly. I should note that in Sweden we have an annual book sale each February and then I tend to buy between 15-40 books.

    Sorry for the long post, and seeing my estimate (which is probably wrong, I daren't even look at my order history or bank statements to see how much money I actually spend) I do realise that I have a slight problem, but whatever. My joys in life are books, shoes, travelling and going to gigs and that's where all my money goes. I don't have a family to feed, and most of the people who nag me about my books are the ones who easily spend 2000 SEK on a night out. Whatever makes you happy in life - go get it, is my motto. Besides, when I die I'm sure my nieces will get some money from selling my books so wins all around.

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    1. Some things are better left unknown, eg how much you blew on books last year *wink* then again most bookaholics would get the shock of their lives if they counted up all book purchases at the end of the year.
      On the other hand, and I totally agree with you on this, if you love something why not invest your money in it? I'm not much for going out either. Heck, I am too much of a Scrooge to go to the cinema and will more often than not wait for a DVD instead. And spending a night out getting hammered when I can curl up with a good book? That's the way I prefer to spend my money too ... books not booze!

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  7. I buy only hardcover books yet spend less that $100 a year on books because I buy used books or buy them new with credit card points and with gift cards that I win.

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    1. Buying used books is something I only ever "discovered" three years ago or so, but all the money you can save means you can get sooo much more bookish goodies! And now that you mention hardcovers - they usually hold up a lot better than paperbacks, so buying those used I was often lucky enough to get them looking (almost) as new!

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  8. Erich and I used to spend large amounts of money at book stores. I don't think we ever looked at the cost. When we had to start tightening the budget, we just stopped going to bookstores (it used to be what we 'did'.. nothing to do, want to go out, lets go to the bookstore type thing). We realized it had been a while when we went to one of the bookstores and our 'club' card had expired many months before. Since then, when we go, I'm usually the one buying books. I don't really look at the cost, because if I'm fretting about money at that moment, I'm not going to the bookstore. Usually, my limit was whatever I could carry in the basket without breaking my arm. haha!

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    1. There are worse things to do than hitting bookstores when you're bored ... and I like your battle-plan of what can be carried can be bought, hahaha!

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  9. I very rarely buy paperbacks, Birgit, and only those that I'm dying to get and they have no kindle release in UK. mostly I keep my wishlist of ebooks on Amazon and religiously check it every day. If the book went down in price to under £1-2 'll buy it. The exceptions are books in a very good series that I read in one go like 4 books by Shelley Adina I bought and read 1 by 1. Sometimes it happens :) I also stopped entering into giveaways few months ago. I have too many paperbacks sitting unread because I read more ebooks. I probably spend around £20 a month on reading but usually it's even less because if I read an ARC I don't feel the need to go and buy the same book as well. The only freebies I get are the ones I have on my wishlist. I stopped getting just random books, because I never get around to read them anyway :D

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    1. Maybe I should do that too - check my Kindle wishlist more regularly to get the best prices! And you know what? I also stopped entering giveaways in recent months. Well, I do enter a select few, but I think I've won maybe two books this year? My TBR piles are just too big to use free books as additional source for even more reads ...

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  10. I give myself a budget for hobbies and books come out of that. Fortunately, I mostly use the library and only buy books if A) they're so good, I will definitely reador at least reference them again or B) I have an opportunity to get them signed. Somehow between ARC's, giveaways, and reading library books before the ones I own I still manage to have quite a TBR pile, but books aren't a big expense for me.

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