Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Binge: A Confession

Earlier this year I decided to try to track my book purchases in an effort to minimize them. I'd needed to economize, plus I have more than 300 books in my house that I haven't read yet, so it seems like not buying more should be a simple thing to do. It's been insanely hard, though.

Two months ago I was doing great. But then, two weeks ago I unexpectedly got a small (but large enough) windfall. And then I got notice about the discounts at Borders.

So the BF and I went to the Borders nearer to us (the closest one went OOB about 6 months ago in the first round of closings.) I was wandering around with my GoodReads app pulled up on my phone, determined to only buy books already on my TBR list and nothing else. But I found one book not on the list that was a YA so it was lower-priced than a similar adult book and I decided it was okay. And then another. And yet, I was still trying to be good.

I was thinking, "well, I'll only get paperbacks. They're not too pricey even though it's only 20% off. I'll wait until next week to get the hardcovers." But in the back of my mind I thought, this is silly. The difference between getting those books this week and next is only 10%, not 30%. Plus, by next week who knows what they'll still have. And even if they still have books I want, I won't be able to find them. (Why do customers think it's okay to trash a store just because it's going out of business? All these poor employees have just been told they're fired in a month, and so it's okay to make their last month extra-hard? Where is the logic in that?)

So I had my little stack of books and I went to the fiction department. And I decided, screw it. I'm getting them. All. All the books that I want. I've got a big check, and decent discounts, when will that ever happen again? I got a basket.

I did stick to my list. Of the books I got only one was a true impulse buy that I hadn't even heard of before (Getting In by Karen Stabiner). The rest, if they weren't on my list, were books I had considered adding (and a couple I once had on the list but had culled) and books by authors I liked, along with one classic that I figured I should tackle one day (War and Peace). And between my BF and I we completely filled the basket to overflowing. I decided to get his books too (after all, how often do you find a BF who loves to read? That wonderful and rare trait should be rewarded. And 2/3 of the books were mine.)

I got home, stacked them up, gleefully added them to GoodReads, stuffed them into the bookcase, pondered which one I should read first, and yet, something wasn't quite right... Despite having spent more on books in 1 transaction than I ever have, not counting college textbooks, I hadn't been able to make as much of a dent in my Need To Buy list as I'd wanted. Some of those books now seemed to be taunting me. How could they not have any copies of Unbroken? Or In the Garden of Beasts? I know, they obviously sold out of these bestsellers and aren't getting more, but I felt a little defeated by my list. (Meanwhile, the cat very much enjoyed all the shopping bags.)

A few days later, I got an email from Borders. More discounting. And really, it's like offering crack to an addict. I herded the BF into the car and we went to the other Borders on the opposite side of town. Surely they had to have a different selection. And they did! I got the Hillenbrand (although not the Larson). I was a little better in this store at sticking to my list. This store was not quite as picked-over. Another 20 books!

And yet when I got home, the list continued to taunt me. Not to mention, guilt had started to rear its ugly head. What was I doing, staunch supporter of independent bookstores, giving many hundreds of dollars to a zombie chain store? Yes, it will go to the publishers who are owed oodles of dollars, and I certainly want to support them. But my local indie pays their publisher bills on time. So I decided a third excursion was in order.

Here I only got 6 books (after all they were full price and nearly all hardcover). But I also ordered 4 more. (The BF, completely book saturated, did not come on this trip.) Grand total for my book shopping in the last month: 49 books. Wow. So extravagant. But that Need To Buy list is pretty well whipped now.

You can guess what came next of course. The bookcases are due to be delivered on Friday. Luckily, I enjoy putting together furniture.


Jillian said...

New bookshelves? How exciting!

and you know, I never thought of counting my book purchases, but I might do that now.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Wow! My husband gets annoyed when I try to get more books, and I only have about 100 unread books sitting on shelves. Thank goodness we don't have a Borders within 100 miles of us! You made quite a haul. The problem with book wish lists is that they are always growing... I'm sure yours will be up to full strength again in a few weeks!

Amy said...

A girl after my own heart: you don't stop buying books, you just buy more bookcases!

Jen said...

While I did feel bad taking advantage of the huge sale at Borders.... the book addict inside me was gleeful. Out of the books I bought (so far), only 2 are ones I haven't read. All the rest were ones I had read as library books, so I treated myself to them.

I agree with Amy -- more bookcases (or stacking them 2 deep) is the remedy!

Kristen said...

I love your line of "offering crack to a drug addict." It's so true! I went into Borders a week or so ago and I went crazy, buying books that weren't on my wishlist! It was bad, and I walked out spending more than I wanted to.

I hope that you enjoy Unbroken ... I read it a week or so ago and LOVED it. One of the best books that I've read all year, and now one of my favorite books.

avisannschild said...

Ah you're such a tease, not even telling us the titles of any of the books you bought! But wow, 49 books in one month is pretty impressive!

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Julie said...

Oh, my gosh! I totally love this (and can SO sympathize)... my next furniture buy will be a couple of new bookcases (tired of seeing them piled up on the filing cabinets, the tops of the existing bookcases, and the task table). While I DON'T have 300 books still to be read (right now, the TBR shelves are starting to get double-stacked), I DO have a ton of keeper books that are already double-stacked in their respective bookcases! (I'm thinking I should maybe do another trip to Borders myself - I'm just so sad that it won't be there any longer). I'm lucky to have quite a few really good indies nearby (one of them offers 70% off if you buy 3 or more books), but not having a "big" bookstore within a 15-20 minute driving distance from my city is a downer.