My Book Buying Habits

I’ve been doing quite a bit of book buying for the past year or so, and of course that got me thinking about the books I buy. Despite the fact that I now buy more books, my criteria for spending my money on a book have not changed. Even my “impulse” purchases are relatively thought out and carefully planned. So today I want to discuss some of the factors that I consider when I’m browsing for books to buy either online or in person. I also thought it would be fun to break down some of the numbers associated with the books I purchased or was gifted this year, since I actually kept track of all the details for the first time this year!

Stephanie Ruhle Details GIF by MSNBC

The Book Buying Process

In general, books have to go through a vetting process before I purchase them. I need to read the synopsis, look at some ratings, and check out content warnings before I buy most books. I’m not someone who goes into a book without knowing these factors. If the synopsis sounds good, then the book has passed the first test. If the average rating sounds reasonable, the book passes the second test. And if there are no content warnings that I’m concerned with, the book passes its final test. However, even after all that research, I may still decide not to buy the book. Sometimes that’s because I plan on getting the book from the library, other times it’s because while I’m interested in the book, I want to do even more detailed research before picking it up, and some times I honestly could not tell you what stops me, but I just don’t purchase the book.

Social Media No GIF by CBC

Me when a book doesn’t pass one (or more) of my three tests

In 2021 there were some exceptions, where I tried branching out of my comfort zone by purchasing books that I was recommended that weren’t ones I would pick up on my own, but to be honest, I ended up unhauling practically every single one of those books without reading them. I just was not interested in picking the books up at any point during the year. Thankfully, I didn’t purchase too many of these sorts of books, but there were enough that it’s a category worth mentioning!

The 2021 Numbers

In 2021, I acquired 89 new books. When I first saw that number, I will admit, I was a bit horrified. For me, that’s quite a large number. It’s about 7 books a month, and while that number seems reasonable, I don’t even read seven books every month! And some of the books I read each month aren’t new purchases, but instead are from the library or have already been on my shelves for a while. And that’s not to mention how much money I must have spent this year on books! However, when I took a closer look, I realized that this number was a lot more reasonable for several reasons.

Books I Purchased:

Out of the 89 books, I only purchased 59 of them. That’s still a large number, but it’s a lot better than the full 89. In fact, it averages out to 5 books a month instead of 7 books a month. Additionally, the majority of the books I purchased were ones I desperately wanted, such as anticipated romances, or graphic novels I discovered that sounded cool. I also took advantage of sales and discounts when purchasing my books.

In terms of where I purchased my books, 27 of them were from Barnes & Noble, but coming close behind was Bookshop.org, with a total of 23 books. The other 9 were from a mixture of other stores including 3 indie bookstores in New York. I really want to keep tracking this statistic, and I hope to maybe branch out to buying books from more in person indie book stores in 2022!

Books I Was Gifted:

So if you’ve already done the math, you’ll have realized that a full 30 of the books I acquired were gifted to me in some way. Out of those 30, I received 15 from giveaways or publishers or were free in some way or another. I won quite a few giveaway over on Instagram lives that different authors hosted throughout the year, and I was sent quite a few books from Forever in 2021, which made this such a big number. The remaining 15 were from friends of family for my birthday or for other random moments of appreciation! I’m obviously so grateful for all of the books I was gifted, and I’m quite amazed at what a big number it is!

Books I Unhauled:

Now this category is one I find fascinating, because while I acquired 89 books, in the very same year I unhauled 26 of them! I already did an entire blog post about unhauling, so I’ll just say that these 26 didn’t make up the majority of my total unhaul in 2021, but it was probably a solid quarter of the books I unhauled this year. Interestingly, out of the 26 I unhauled, I had already read 16 of them, but felt they weren’t worth keeping. The 10 others that I unhauled were mostly the sort of impulse purchases I mentioned earlier that I just didn’t want on my TBR shelf going into 2022!

And there you have it! Those are my thoughts on what gets me to purchase books, and how that ended up translating into the books I bought, was gifted, and unhauled this year! Now I’d love to know about some of your book buying habits!

Do you keep track of the books you buy? What’s your favorite book you acquired this year? Which store do you buy most of your books from?

25 thoughts on “My Book Buying Habits

  1. I went through a phase of only buying books on my kindle because between us, my husband and I had soooo many. This year though, I’ve gone back to actually buying real books. They mainly come from Waterstones which is the only bookshop near to where I live.

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    1. I honestly don’t even keep track of the Kindle books that I but since I rarely purchase them! Most of the books I read via an e-reader are e-ARCs from NetGalley!

      And I used to use my library a lot more instead of purchasing the books for myself, but COVID set me on the path of book purchasing, and since then I haven’t really stopped! I’m going to try to be a bit more mindful this year, and I think keeping track of the books I purchase helps with that goal!

      I’ve never actually been to a Waterstones, but having heard so much about them, I definitely want to visit one or two whenever I get a chance to visit the UK!

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  2. In 2021 I bought no hardcover books and maybe 5 ebooks. The rest I borrowed or were NetGalley arcs. I’d love to buy more books if I had space on my shelves but I tend to buy and leave them on the shelves and never get to reading them so I had to stop that lol.

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    1. Oh, wow! That is impressive! Even when I was using my library more, I still purchased at least 10 physical books every year!

      I definitely hear that though! I know you’re definitely not alone in having a physical TBR that never actually gets read! I’m trying to read more of my physical TBR this year, but I do know that I’ll still be buying some new releases, so I think it will be interesting to reflect next year on how well I managed to get through some of the more backlist titles that I own!

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  3. I have been super picky about my book buying in 2021 too. I used to buy every little book that used to interest me, but now I’m a lot pickier because I started receiving books from publishers and authors. I never realised how big an impact that would have on my book buying, but I noticed a drastic difference!

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    1. I have noticed that my book buying habits have changed over the years as well. But for me, I’ve been buying MORE books ever since COVID started. The fear of not having a library and needing something to read ensures that I always have a well stocked physical TBR available, just in case!

      So far I don’t receive enough books from publishers for it to make a bit impact on my TBR, but it would be interesting to see how that would impact my book buying if I do eventually get sent more books!

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  4. I don’t really keep track of how many books I’m buying, and I really dread to think what my numbers are! I don’t buy many physical books these days because I just don’t have the shelf space, but I buy a lot of Kindle books, just because it’s so easy (which is very bad for my finances!).
    My process for deciding whether to buy a book is similar to yours though. If the blurb intrigues me I’ll check out some reviews and ratings, and see if it’s available at the library first, and if not I may buy it.

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    1. It was really interesting to keep track in 2021, and I’m actually really looking forward to tracking this again in 2022! For me, I rarely buy Kindle books, and when I do they tend to be very cheap or I have a credit to purchase them with, so I actually don’t even keep track of the e-books that I buy!

      It’s interesting that for me, if a synopsis intrigues me enough, I may immediately want to own it, while if a synopsis sounds interesting but doesn’t grip me, only then will I check for it in my library system. I honestly got out of the habit of using my library during COVID, and I’m still working on getting back to using it more frequently! Hopefully I get better at that in 2022!

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  5. Oh wow, your book buying process is intense. Impulse buys for me are literally I like the cover, it’s cheap, or I like the summary. It’s probably why I have so many unread books, maybe I should follow a few more of your steps before purchasing. I don’t keep track of what I purchase anymore, I used to have a spreadsheet tracking everything to do with my reading but it stressed me out a little too much. I do know I am guilty of purchasing most of my books via Amazon and that might need to change. I try and support one indie romance store here though when it comes to physical books because romance bookstores don’t exist here in the UK otherwise.

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    1. Yeah, my book buying process is pretty rigorous, but it keeps me from buying even more books than I already do! If there’s some question you think it would be useful to ask yourself before impulse buying a book, try asking it before adding a book to your cart (either in person or online) and see if it makes any difference. Sometimes just taking an extra second to deliberate can help you realize that you’re not actually that interested in a book!

      I happen to love stats and keeping track of everything, but I definitely hear how it could be overwhelming. And I used to buy mostly from Amazon as well until I made the conscious effort to avoid using that platform to buy books. I really should start supporting indie romance bookstores as well, since I eventually want to visit those stores, and they need to still be open in the near future for me be able to visit. So really I’m just helping myself have a fun travel destination in the future by supporting those bookstores in the present!

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  6. Such an interesting post! I surprised myself when I started counting, I think I bought more books this year than I thought I did! But like you, I have a pretty rigorous process for book buying, I really only buy it if I know I’m going to love it.

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  7. I do not keep track of the books I buy, for then I would have to scold myself 😂 No, in seriousness, I probably only bought around the same as you? (Now I am curious to look, so please hold.) Okay 93, that is WAY worse than I thought. Whoops? I did unhaul some of mine, too- like you, I got rid of the ones I read and didn’t *love*- I refuse to let myself keep any book I rate under 4 stars, because if I did, I would be killed by piles of toppling books.

    That does not, however, include books I obtained in other ways. Figuring that out would likely take me all night heh. The bottom line is, I have problems. 😂 The funny thing is, I am also VERY picky about what I buy! Which… doesn’t make a ton of sense, considering. But here we are. Some of the books I bought I bought *because* I had already read and loved them too, especially because I have been giving a lot of them to my mom to read. So maybe those are slightly less… “bad” of me? Who knows heh. Great post!

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    1. I honestly really liked keeping track of the books I bought, even though I wasn’t so happy with the results of what I discovered because it will help me plan my goals for future purchases.

      And unhauling is my new obsession! It just feels so great to get rid of books I have no need for on my shelves anymore! Plus, like you said, it makes room on the shelves for new books so that there aren’t just random piles all over the house. (Or like, in theory. I may or may not still have random piles of books in my room despite having room on my shelves for more books).

      I’m honestly now debating going through all your Monthly Minutes at Midnight posts to find out all your book buying and acquiring stats because I’m curious. But I feel like that borders on stalkerish, so I’ll hold myself back. But I honestly think it’s interesting to see, not for the purposes of making yourself feel guilty, but because it’s just so interesting and teaches you so much about yourself!

      And it does make sense that you’re picky! There were hundreds, maybe even thousands of books released in 2021, and millions of books available for purchase, and you only bought 93 for yourself. What restraint you have! And not all of them were even TBR books! Plus, you even shared some of your new possessions. Honestly, I’m seeing all this as a win right here!

      Thank you!

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  8. I am guilty of buying loads of books but I also like the fact that almost all the books I bought were from a secondhand bookstore which is definitely more sustainable AND supports the small bookstore. However I have also recently started using Libby which is an absolute game changer. My goal for 2022 (or even later) is to make my way through my bookshelf before buying more books

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    1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying lots of books per se, as long as you’re happy with that! I just was curious how much I’d been buying and growing my TBR, and personally felt that 89 was a large number of books to acquire in a year!

      Buying from a secondhand store is such a great practice, and it’s unfortunate that I don’t do it more often! I do still try supporting independent/small bookstores by using Bookshop.org though, so at least there’s that!

      I’ve also never actually used Libby despite hearing amazing things about it, probably because I haven’t found any need for it! My TBR keeps me plenty busy without additional library books!

      That’s quite the impressive goal and sounds really difficult! Best of luck to you! I hope that you can accomplish it! I know that I could never attempt such a thing, since my TBR is too big and my urge to buy books is too strong!

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