Random Thoughts

Bookshop vs Library

random thoughts graphic

I haven’t been reading much recently. If you follow my Twitter, you might know that I had a rough weekend… But I’m crawling my way back out of my bed of sadness to my TBR. Shit happens, right?

I wanted to talk about the whole borrow v. owning books debate though. I read a really interesting post over @The Wolf and Books which got me thinking about the role of consumerism and peer pressure in book blogging.

I love this bookish community, and in the few months I’ve been blogging it’s been really good to me. I’ve had fascinating conversations, got some great book recommendations, and even connected personally with some awesome people. And this blog is a creative outlet for me, it’s a place where I get to be the most “me”, and not at all “me” – all at the same time. I suspect most book bloggers feel the same way…

But reading Vanessa’s post @The Wolf and Books, and watching the link she shared for @Read With Cindy’s booktube post (‘Why I Only Own 4 Books’) got me thinking… Does all of this have a dark side? Do people really feel compelled to spend money they don’t have, on books they may not even like, just to “keep up”? Do they think they won’t be accepted unless they always read the newest releases, and post pictures of them with floral arrangements on their Instagram? Do we really need to own our books, or could we be just as happy borrowing them from the library?

I love book shopping. In my opinion, book shops are one of life’s great pleasures. The smell of new books… Finding something that surprises you… Revisiting old favourites… Carrying a big pile of lovely, crisp new books with shiny covers home and setting them by my bed – the anticipation of opening them, cracking the spine, and diving into a new world… Can’t beat it!

And I’m unashamedly hoarding my books and alowly building my own library. I think a lot of us are… The Beauty and The Beast library ruined me for a responsible book-buying adulthood…

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I’d be the first to admit, I spend way, way too much money on books! It’s an expensive hobby. Still, there are worse things you could spend your hard-earned money on, right? And I probably only read one or two new releases a month – if that. I don’t particularly care when a book came out, or whether everyone else is reading the same thing… I just like reading books! If it interests me, it ends up in the basket. And I don’t write this blog in order to be like everyone else, so I don’t really feel any pressure to read particular things or conform. It’s a social-thing, sure. But it’s more than that for me…

Having said that… I do think supporting our local libraries is important. And, if you never visit, then you aren’t supporting them. So maybe there’s a middle ground? I mean, do I “need” to own every book I read? Maybe I’m missing out, by being too lazy to go to the library (I have a sneaking suspicion I am)? And I can see that some younger, more impressionable, bloggers might feel they need to “fit in” and therefore feel the pressure to read new – I don’t think that’s right.

So, if you do feel that pressure, I suppose my answer would be: go take a look around this bookish community. Most of my favourite bloggers read a mix of new, secondhand, and library books. Many of their new releases are free ARCs. I can’t speak for bookstagram or booktube – maybe things are different over there? But I’ve yet to meet a reader who didn’t have full respect for a library hoard, or who cared about where a book came from and what date it came out. We’re all here for the books, not the popularity contest!

I guess my conclusion would be: Buy your books, that’s fine, but hey, maybe take a trip to the library as well every once in a while? – and promote it, because libraries matter. And I intend to take my own advice!

26 thoughts on “Bookshop vs Library”

  1. You make some valid points here. What I have come to realize is that the book stores mainly have the newest books or the most asked for books, aka, books that sell. Sometimes libraries have a bigger collection so you can find not only the newest books but some out-of-print titles as well. Don’t get me wrong I can spend my life in a book store, but to rein in the useless spending and to conserve space and my fiancé’s sanity, I mainly read what I want from the library. If a book really impacts me then I go out and by myself a copy. I also utilize every library book sale, so I get books that I want for a way cheaper price. Granted they are used, but the copies they sell are in very good condition.

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  2. I like a bigger book shop for that reason… I tend not to want the most popular or the newest books… Haha ye can totally understand that!

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  3. We on an extremely tight soc sec budget and don’t buy. it’s either free on NetGalley, BookBub, or the library. But the library also has audio books, downloadable right from my little home office. These are awesome libraries, offering everything from texts to genealogy. They definitely offer more than books these days.

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  4. That’s true! There are so many good things about libraries… I’d forgotten that aspect of this! Thank you 🙂

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  5. ABSOLUTELY there are people who place their self-worth based on their bookstagram account, how many followers they have, and how many books they own. And a lot of those people buy books that they never read just to post pictures of them. I love Cait from Paper Fury, but she is the absolute worst about this. Which, honestly, has always been very puzzling to me. What’s the point of having a book and then … not reading it?

    I’ve found what I feel like is a wonderful compromise for myself. I rent every book I read from the library (except the few I’m excited enough about to pre-order!), and then the 4 and 5 star books I go buy from the store to keep on my shelf! That way I’m supporting the library, spending less money, and only own books I loved. It’s a win-win-win!

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  6. I started a bookstagram to try and help tie into this, I’m VERY new to book blogging, as in….I started really this month. I do notice a lot of book purchases but I find that there are others like me with the #charityshopfind hashtag, showing off our secondhand books, I love looking at all the pictures everyone posts and I feel it’s been a quite friendly community, but your points hold true.

    I maybe feel a little like I wished I could afford new books, but, I take crappy pictures, either way, so I stick to taking pictures of my library pics and my secondhand shop finds with some books I just love no matter the price I paid.

    I agree, let’s support our local libraries, my family and I go once a week on average and haven’t bought new books in years really.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts 🙂

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  7. I really liked this article. The only gap is that there are countries, like mine for instance, where I discovered that there are hardly any libraries and the ones around are very badly stocked 😦 I wrote an entire article about that when I returned from UK last year, after falling in love with my local library there. So now, I have no option but to buy books on Amazon, or wait for the Netgalley eARCs 🙂
    However, when I was in UK, I did indulge in my book craving and had a half an half rule, where I’d borrow two books from the library, take a picture of the library books with floral arrangement for my bookstagram (LOL) and I’d also visit the local Waterstones every month to buy 2-3 books. I made a budget for myself, where I was allowed to spend X amount either on books, clothes or alcohol, or a mix of all three. Most of the times, books and alcohol won..hahah
    But I am starting to re-build my own small home library too 🙂

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  8. I prefer e-books, but when it comes to the printed stuff, most of mine are from the charity shops 🙂
    I had book hoarding tendencies, way before the blog, and used to visit this second hand shop in my hometown and often leave with 10-20 books at once 😀

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  9. Hahaha I feel like secondhand books are just like taking a puppy home from a shelter though, right..? You’re just giving them a good home…

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  10. Ah, a very good point… Not all countries have well stocked libraries – or libraries at all. I hadn’t thought of that. A budget is a good idea. In theory, I have one… In reality, I spend way too much on books and stuff, and then wonder where all my money has gone…

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  11. Thank you! I also take crappy pictures for my Instagram… And I have to say, I can’t really be doing with bookstagram… There are only so many pictures of books I can look at… And those ones where people turn all their books spines to the wall – those drive me mad! I love a charity shop book haul, I don’t get to do it as much anymore with the lack of decent charity shops near me… But there’s something brilliant about spending a day having a rummage for treasure around the charity shops. Love it! I am going to get back to going to the library again though, I think it’s a bit shaming I haven’t even been to one near me…

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  12. That’s a great compromise! I can’t imagine buying a book I was never going to read… Maybe a first edition Harry Potter or something, where I have a scruffy copy I’ve already read… I don’t think I’d be able to help myself tbh! That book would get read regardless!

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  13. Sometimes it’s hard to just make yourself go but once you do, bam you’re hooked. We got lucky our library is also our museum and gallery and has a coffee shop, it’s small and cozy and we absolutely love it, but, it took my husband five years to go to that library, you’ll get there in the end lol

    ((Oh do not get me started with those spines to the wall, it makes me cringe so much lolol))

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  14. This year I started my masters in another country, which means I cannot really buy books, at least not so many. Since they are too heavy to move back to my own home with the airplane. This means I refound my love for the library 🙂 It makes me so happy to go through all those books and take whichever one I want 🙂 And then it also doesn’t matter if you don’t read it, you can always get it again!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

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  15. Great discussion post! I do own quite a number of books. 80% are secondhand so not too expensive plus secondhand markets are easier to get here. Luckily, we have a library at work so I also get to borrow loads of books. I like what you said about the peer pressure though especially surrounding ARCS. There are times when everyone seems to be reading and discussing particular new releases and it can feel isolating especially for international bloggers like I who don’t always get the popular new titles. However, as you say, we are all here for the books 🙂

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  16. How lucky to have a library at work! I used to work for a magazine, ages before I started this blog, and they got physical copies of ARCs so I got first pick of what they didn’t want – I really miss that! It would be great if there were more bookshops near me as well. Ye, I definitely feel that pressure! And I think sometimes we feel that older books, less popular books, don’t get the same attention on blogs. People are looking for what’s new, what everyone’s reading. Some of my favourite book bloggers rarely get ARCs and rarely have the newest thing – and it doesn’t make much difference though. But when you’re a new blogger, I think theres even more pressure!

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