This week’s question comes from Kelly at Kelly’s Thoughts and Ramblings who asks:
How often do you ever have to actually buy a book? Do you get most of yours through swaps and drawings? Do you frequent used book stores a lot? Sorry…more than one question, but all related.
I’ll forgive you the barrage of questions, Kelly, but only this time. Next time I’ll make you pay extra.
I guess the short answer to your question is “Not very often.” (By the way, we don’t have any used bookstores in my area … which is probably just as well … so that isn’t a big book acquiring resource for me.) And for those of you who love statistics, here is where the 46 books I’ve read this year came from:
- Books Received for Review: 7
- Books Received Via Paperback Swap: 15
- Books Bought: 16
- Books from Library: 3
- Books Won In Giveaway: 5
This question is particularly timely because I am currently in Month 5 of my Self-Imposed Year-Long Book-Buying Ban. And, as I’ve found out, it is very possible to have a steady inflow of new books without actually having to buy them. So I now present:
(or Why My Shelves Are Still Groaning Under the Weight of Books)
- Join a book swapping site. I love Paperback Swap (PBS) and have been using it since March 2007. When I recently checked my account, I discovered that I’ve received 313 books and mailed out 305 books.. I love that PBS is always upgrading and enhancing their site, and I adore the Wish List feature, which allows you to put books “on hold.” Then, when your turn comes up and the book is posted in the system, you automatically have dibs on the book. Although it can take awhile to get a book, there is nothing quite like getting a wish granted unexpectedly. I would recommend PBS to anyone who loves books but doesn’t have unlimited money, a good library system and doesn’t mind swapping out their books. (I do think it is limited only to U.S. residents though, but I know there are a host of other book swapping sites out there.)
- Sign up for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. This program allows you to request early review copies of a variety of books, and there is some mysterious lottery system that determines who gets a book and doesn’t. Although there are no guarantees about whether you’ll receive a book or not, I’ve been amazingly lucky in that I’ve gotten a book almost every month since I joined. (I think you can increase your chances if you read and review the books you get in a timely manner.) Best of all, it is not limited to just the U.S. (However, certain books are only available to certain countries.) Check out this month’s batch of books here.
- Learn how to request Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs). Alyce from At Home With Books wrote a wonderful post about this a while back that I would highly recommend reading.
- Enter giveaways on book blogs. Although you won’t necessarily win all of them, my guess is you’ll win a few if you enter those that grab your attention. I’ve been fairly lucky and won a fair amount of books (and bookstore gift cards) via book blog giveaways. I find your chances are pretty good compared to, say, the lottery! Often you are only “up against” a few other people. (Very rarely does a giveaway exceed 250 entrants from what I’ve seen.) Recently, I won a huge giveaway on Bermudaonion’s blog for a boxed set of Harry Potter books and a $50 Amazon gift card.
- Explore and use your local library. I will admit that I was fairly lazy about using our local library system as much as I should be, but the book buying ban actually inspired me to check out my local library’s request system, and it has worked wonderfully for me. Plus you might find incredible bargains if your library has a little used bookshop like ours does ($1.00 for hardbacks, 50 cents for paperbacks!!!). Also be sure to check out your local library’s annual book sales (I’m pretty sure most libraries have them). You can score TONS of books for very little money. (Just ask Mr. Jenners who had to lug home BOXES of books for the Little One and me after last year’s sale.)
- Frequently remind your loved ones how you are suffering by not being able to buy books and hint strongly (and repeatedly) that you would like gift certificates to purchase books for any and all holidays and gift-giving occasions. This has been my “ace in the hole” for scoring books that I can’t seem to get my hands on quickly enough via other avenues (i.e., new releases that I can’t stand to wait for). Using a variety of sighs, frequent reminders and outright manipulation of young children (“Look what Mommy is buying Grandmom for Mother’s Day — a gift card to Barnes & Noble. That would be a great gift for Mommy too. Talk to Daddy about it!!!”), I’ve been able to score gift certificates for Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day. (The Easter one was a shameless bid on my part to get Christopher Moore’s Bite Me. We’ve never exchanged Easter presents until this year … and frankly, Mr. Jenners didn’t get anything from me yet he “gave” me this book.) I’m pretty sure I’ll receive more gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas (I really don’t ask for anything else) … so now I just need to convince Mr. Jenners to start celebrating July 4th with gifts, and I’ll get through the long summer!
(cartoon from The New Yorkette)
Do you keep track on where you get your books? Are you trying to cut down on how many you buy? Do you swap books? Where do you get the bulk of the books you read?