Sunday, 7 February 2010

How do bloggers buy books?

Howdy all, and welcome to Sunday! I've just been for a very pleasant shopping excursion and purchased the following (the first two were brand spanking new; the third one was a lovely charity shop find - which means an absolute bargain and I gave to charity at the same time!)

This got me to thinking a little. As you know (and as you can probably tell by the mismatched placement of the pictures in this blog post!) I am pretty new to this whole blogging lark.

I especially am new to the magic of receiving free books through the post (never getting old, that one!) These last two weeks I have received 16 books, which is unutterably lovely - and somewhat scary as well (I didn't have the room for all the books I owned anyway, let alone these new arrivals!)

However, on my shopping trip today I was left with something of a quandary. There are always new books coming out that I wish to buy - always. On this trip alone I scribbled down the following titles that I would quite happily have picked up, had I the money, space and time to read them:

  • Frostbitten - Kelley Armstrong
  • The Many Deaths of the Black Company - Glen Cook
  • Flirt - Laurell K Hamilton (yes, I somehow can't stop buying this series *sigh*)
  • Spindle's End - Robin McKinley
  • The Cardinal's Blade - Pierre Pevel
  • Gateway - Sharon Shinn
  • The World House - Guy Adams
  • The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson
  • Gods of Manhattan - Scott Mebus
And those above are only those books that I *actively* wanted! I could have casually picked up loads more.

BUT - and I'm getting to the point now, I promise - I no longer know which books will be arriving as gifts through the post, and which I have to buy off my own back! It's a happy quandary, to be sure, but I don't want to be wasting money buying books that will suddenly arrive. I was going to buy Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge anyway, based on some very good reviews including over on Graeme's site, and last week it arrived out of the blue.

So I'm asking my fellow bloggers: how do you buy books now?

Do you just go ahead and buy everything you're interested in?

Do you wait until you're absolutely certain you won't be issued with a book before heading out and buying it off your own back?

I'd be interested in all opinions. Just to add into the discussion, let's pose the following questions as well:

What do you do with unwanted ARCs (those you have read and reviewed but no longer wish to keep - broken spines and all)?

*tongue in cheek* Does it EVER become a problem, the sheer number of books that come into the house when you take up this blogging lark properly?

Have a restful Sunday, whatever you are up to, and look out for some bona fide reviews of books next week on this site!


  1. I have never made the decision not to get a book in the hopes of being offered a review copy. I will add TONS of books to my wishlist on Amazon and then go through Bookcloseouts, go to library sales, or fairs, etc. to buy them, but I never assume they'll just come to me for review (especially older ones). I don't like when bloggers feel entitled to get free copies of books- most start their blogs to read and review books, but if you start it just to get the free ones... that sounds a bit sad to me.

    I do not buy everything I am interested it. I'm interested in far too many :-)

    I haven't really figured out an ARC policy. Amazon Vine doesn't really let you do ANYTHING with theirs. Others, I lend or give to other people, but I am getting fewer ARCs now and more hardcover versions, which makes it somewhat easier.

    And YES, the number of books gets VERY out of control!

  2. I buy books, I tend not to pre order though. If they haven't dropped through my door by the time they hit the shelves I figure I can always use an extra copy as a giveaway.
    If anything I am buying more books since I started blogging, not less.

  3. I'm not a reviewer, just an enthusiast and aspiring author so I comb my way through blogs I trust for ideas on new works. Found out about NK Jemisin that way most recently.

    I used to buy through Amazon almost exclusively, thanks to my prime membership it was free shipping, but after AmazonFail I use them more for their wishlist capability. Then I export the wishlist to print form and carry it around with me when I go shopping. I even have ordered everything in 5 degrees of desire. Therapy in short order.

  4. Well, I have had only one book sent to me by a publisher since I started reviewing, so I am afraid I do not have a similar problem. Excepting a few titles by authors I really enjoy, I tend to run either weeks or months behind in picking up new novels. It may well be an attempt to assuage the guilt of having around eighty books unread, but it would probably work just as well in the case of worrying that one of the books you want might be sent to you.

    As for what I would do with ARCs, even those I do not like, probably what I do with all my books: hoard.

  5. Generally, if I haven't received a book within a month of publication, I'm not going to.

    I buy what I really want to buy. If I really wanted the book but I haven't recieved a copy, I buy it even though I know I could request a copy from the publicist.

    I've got such a backlog, though, that I really don't worry about getting a book on publication (excluding event books like the Harry Potter series and the new GRRM).

  6. Yep, I'd be with James: I'm a hoarder. There are few things I love more than the idea of slowly putting together a library of the books I've loved and even the books I haven't, but the books that, at the end of the day, have made me me, or at the least kept me entertained from day to day and year to year.

    Given how new to the scene The Speculative Scotsman is, I've been recieving a startling amount of review copies and ARCs - already more than I can handle without losing the will to turn another page. There's so much to keep up with that I haven't actually bought a book since an Amazon order arrived containing The Left Hand of God and The Red Tree, although I'm not relying on freebies by any stretch; for the moment, however, I'm hoping to demonstrate that TSS can be relied upon by the publishers who have noticed the site to provide timely coverage of the copies I'm sent for inspection.

    Long story short, until I've cleared the TBR stack, I can't imagine I'll be taking on any more.

    Great question, Amanda!

  7. How do you buy books now?
    I really only buy books when I realize I don't have them. Since I started receiving books for review, release dates tend to slip by me. I don't feel the urge to hit the stores when I already have a pile of books to read. Most of the time, I generally get my faves a few weeks after they've been released.

    I never expect to get a book I want in the mail. It makes it extra special when it does show up. Plus, that's not why I started my site. Free books are a perk, but I don't count on them.

    Do you just go ahead and buy everything you're interested in?
    God no. If I did that, my husband would shoot me. He's already complaining about the number of books I currently own. He went so far as to get me an ereader so I would stop acquiring books. If there's a book I'm interested in and I don't know the author, then I'll hit the library. If it's an author I've read, but haven't really felt the need to go out and purchase their other novels, then I hit the library. Definitely use the library.

    Do you wait until you're absolutely certain you won't be issued with a book before heading out and buying it off your own back?
    I never assume I'm getting a specific book. That only leads to letdown. If I end up buying a book and then receiving it in the mail as well, then I use the second copy as a contest - a way of driving traffic to my site. I have yet to buy a book and have it show up in my mailbox.

    How do you buy books now?
    The only books I really buy now are ones that are part of series I currently own. An author/series really has to hit my sweet spot in order to get a spot on my shelves.

    What do you do with unwanted ARCs (those you have read and reviewed but no longer wish to keep - broken spines and all)? You can give them away there. You can't give them to used bookstores, but any kind of bookswapping thing works. I'll also give them away as contest prizes. However, I never get rid of an ARC until after its release date. If I plan to use it as a contest prize, I'll contact the person who sent it to me and see if I can do it before the release date. Normally, they are okay with this as it's free promo from their end.

    *tongue in cheek* Does it EVER become a problem, the sheer number of books that come into the house when you take up this blogging lark properly?
    Yes. I've be sent some books I wouldn't typically read. When I first started out, I was agreeing to review all sorts of books and it got to the point where I was burned out on reading because I wasn't reading anything I wanted to read. So I've been a lot pickier of late. It sucks for some, but it's my time and I'm not really getting paid to do this. At the same time, I'm not a big fan of the huge TBR stack and I've been trying to get my down to a managable size again. It's an endless task, I'm sure. :)

  8. Thank you to all for your messages on this subject, it's been really intriguing hearing how other people are dealing with the influx of books.

    I have always brought books extensively - mostly because I haunt charity shops and pick up bargains. It is not unknown for me to come home with upwards of ten books on a good [bad?] day! So my TBR pile was already mountainous before I started receiving books through the post.

    Oh! And I just wanted to clarify: I am not coming at this from the point of view that I am entitled to free books. My question is very much to do with buying books AROUND the ARCs I might be sent. I find it very hard to bypass a shiny new book when I go shopping (see pictures above *dry*) and I just had this horrible thought that I would end up buying all the books that I was then sent!

    But the suggestion about giving away any duplicates in contests is appreciated.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

  9. How do I buy books? I abuse mostly. Runner-up is using Borders Books coupons at the megastore in Boston where I work. Third place is buying books from local bookshops where I live.

    How do I decide? Constant browsing, constant reading of book blogs, and constant list-making... then I try to not overdo it -- I try to be as picky as possible. My To Be Read pile numbers among the dozens. There's always eight books I can't wait to start reading. Okay, eighteen.

    I've received maybe 3 ARCs so that's not really a factor.

    And, I should mention, I live in a small house with ten stuffed bookcases.

  10. I'm with Joe and Jackie. I try very hard to read a book before the release date (if I have it), and it remains high on my priority list for about a month afterward. Then, other books with upcoming release dates start crowding in. The interesting thing is these are all debuts--there are many more debuts than you might think!

    I do receive books that I know I'll never read. I'll include them in a Book Swag post, and then put them in the trade/give away pile. But really, I can't even afford to be trading books anymore. I still have not managed to read any of the books that I've traded for lately. I have a huge stack, and these are all books I wanted to read. But the release dates are long past, and so I cannot make them a priority.

    I do offer many of these books to other people who review books at Debuts & Reviews for me. If they are interested, I send it to them on my own dime.

    There is one book that I want to buy - Oath of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon -- and it may arrive in the mail, but I won't count on it. If it hasn't arrived by the release date, I'm probably safe to buy it.