Yesterday an author friend and I were chatting about our ebook and paperback buying habits.
We discovered that we mainly buy ebooks: me because I love reading on my ereader and I like to get the book straight away, and she because she lives in a non-English speaking country. Shipping print books to her costs a fortune and takes ages. My friend and I seldom buy fiction in print unless it’s from the thrift store or for our children.
As a homeschooling mother and an avid reader, I buy a lot of books. It can get expensive. There are active homeschooling communities where people sell on learning materials to others when they’re done with them. This is really helpful to families who need to stretch a dollar (or a pound in my case). However, I try to buy new when I can, to encourage whoever produced the materials to keep on doing it.
With fiction, though, I love to buy my paperback and hardback books second-hand. Our town has several charity shops that sell used books. Besides the Salvation Army we have Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research, and St. Luke’s Hospice. There’s also a second-hand bookshop that’s not linked to any charity, but the owner knows used books are popular.
One of my favourite places in London is the South Bank Book Market under Waterloo Bridge. If you ever come to London, you’ve got to pay a visit there. It’s a book lovers’ dream, and I’ve spent many happy hours browsing the shelves. Entering a used book store is like going on a treasure hunt. I never know what delights I’m going to find, and I rarely come out empty-handed.
Does buying used novels make me a hypocrite?
For a few uncomfortable minutes yesterday, I pondered over whether I’m being unfair to other authors by buying some of their books used. On reflection, I decided that I’m not employing a double standard by buying new curriculum and used printed novels. If I really enjoy one of my thrift store novels, I’ll look out for the author and will probably buy more of their books new, or look out for them at my library. The second-hand books serve as a “taster” and often lead to follow-up purchases, and the author will have gained themselves a voracious new reader.
For that reason, I would have no problem at all if somebody donated my print books to a thrift store or resold them on eBay. I might find a new reader that way!
Do you get books from thrift stores? Or do you donate books you’re done reading?