To Buy or Not to Buy: What Makes a Book Worthy of My Money

leila at the library

I realized today that it had been quite some time since I posted anything other than reviews and challenge sign-ups.  My bad.  Thanks for sticking with me.  We will now resume our (somewhat) regular programming.

So I’ve been thinking.  About buying books.  Probably because I’ve committed to not buy books in 2015 (with a few exceptions).  Only a few days in and I’m feeling the pain.  Thank goodness for Christmas book money.

Anyway, book buying ban or not, what makes me buy a book?  I guess it depends on my mood.  I mean, when I’m in a bookstore (especially an indie), I’m often a kid in a candy store.  I snatch up anything that looks pretty and moderately interesting.  Which often results in a ridiculous total at the register.  So I guess that’s not what I’m trying to figure out as I write this post.

I’m talking about those thoughtful purchases.  Those books you just have to have.  The ones you want to be sure are at your fingertips whenever you think of them.  This question is especially difficult for me since I started blogging and getting advance copies.  I mean, if you’ve already read the book for free, do you bother buying it?  You don’t have to delete or destroy the advance copies (well, you’re supposed to).  You can go back and read them.  But I don’t.  If I truly loved a book, I go out and buy it.  What’s interesting is that I rarely buy a book I got from the library.  Not quite sure why.

I suppose that there a couple of things that result in a purchase of a book I’ve read as an advance copy.  The first is, of course, that the book is good.  Doesn’t have to be fabulous (see the next reason), but good enough for me to want to read again.  The second reason often has to do with the author.  The majority of books I purchase that I’ve read as advance copies are those written by authors that were nice to me.  See, that’s all you have to do.  Write a decent book and be nice to me.

What about preorders, you ask?  Well that’s an entirely different category.  I mean, when you preorder a book you’re committing to it in advance (often months in advance).  For me this is much harder than any other book-buying decision.  Some preorders are practically obligatory.  Anything Diana Gabaldon writes, for example, is preordered months in advance.  By the time I got my copy of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood it had been on preorder for an entire year.  That’s right, 365 days, 52 weeks, blah, blah, blah.  The rest of the time my preorders match the two reasons for buying any other book.  Although the book needs to have been awesome (if an advance copy) or have lots of potential for awesomeness (not just be good).

How do you decide if you’re going to buy a book?

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Annie

    Hey Leila,
    I’m a lot like you – when I’m in an Indie store or my favorite used book stores I can end up walking out with stacks of books. But what makes me pursue a book?1. If it’s a new book by an author I already read 2. If it’s highly recommended by a friend who has similar reading tastes to mine 3. If it looks really enticing 4. If it’s a reference book I really really want.

    However, I am a mystery junkie – so I am constantly looking for the next great mystery/suspense thriller and for new authors that wow me with their mystery chops and defy me not to become a fan. So even if I’m not looking for a book, if I get wind of a really good mystery I’ll almost always bite.

    Happy Saturday!


    1. Leila

      I agree with the first three reasons on your list. The only reason I’m not on board with the 4th is that I’ve never had a burning need for a reference book 😉

      1. Ashley

        Ohhhh, yes. I will buy reference books! Cookbooks or health/parenting books. But only after I’ve borrowed them from the library first!

        1. Leila

          You and your library… 😛

  2. Julie

    Because I try to fight the hoarding instincts, I’ve been very picky on the books I buy. I almost never re-read, so I don’t bother buying books I already read as ARCs or as library borrows or as streaming audiobooks (don’t need the print or ebook if I already listened to it). I buy a book if it is by an author I love and I plan to actually read this book in the near future (whether or not I actually do, well, you know.)

    1. Leila

      What’s your definition of near future? 😉 A big chunk of what I plan to read this year are books I intended to read immediately. Now a year or more later…

  3. Author I’ve read before and enjoyed definitely tops the list.

    The quality of the book–how it looks and feels in my hands is huge as well. I feel like I here the author speaking to me with a well constructed book. Crazy?

    Terri M., the Director
    Second Run Reviews

    1. Leila

      So not crazy. I love the physical feel of books. And some of them are just awful and not readable. Not because the story is bad but because the book just feels awkward.

  4. Kathryn@Book Date

    Interesting topic. I have decided this year to monitor my book buying! That doesn’t mean not buying though, it just means thinking it through first. So if I can get it from the library I commit to that. Previously I would just hop online and order. Some books I know the bookshop here won’t have and I can get it best as an ebook. I had a book recently that I had pre-ordered by 9 months. Knew I would love it and did! Love Diana G. Didn’t pre-order because I knew our local bookstore would have it on publishing date, which they did!

    1. Leila

      It is so easy to just buy, especially with Amazon 1 click! I do like your pledge to think before you buy. Maybe I should have just done that rather than pledge not to buy… And preorders are an exception for the buying ban, so I’m making sure to preorder!

  5. Ashley

    When I was young (and I do mean young, like elementary/middle school), I bought books with reckless abandon. Anything I could afford and that sounded intriguing was fair game. I paid for more than one book order with change (including lots of pennies) scrounged from my piggy bank.

    Somewhere along the way, I pretty much stopped buying new books. Probably whenever it was that I discovered the existence of Half Price Books. (Sadly, there isn’t one in Bismarck.) And at some point, I all but ceased to buy books I hadn’t already read. Now, I will get a book from the public library first, to see if it’s worthy of my personal library. Very few new books have made it into my personal library recently, and I often don’t even read the copies I have. Or I haven’t read them yet. I just feel like I want to have them on hand.

    One exception to this is that I’ve recently been on a bit of an ebook-buying spree. I blame this on you, for getting me another Kindle. I think I’ve only read one of those books so far, for whatever reason. I should get on that at some point.

    So in summary: I will buy a book if a.) I’ve read it already, and b.) I like it a lot, and c.) I feel I’d like to read it again/share it with friends/have it for my children. Or, you know, if it’s $2 on Kindle and I have a gift card balance. 😉

    1. Leila

      You are always so thoughtful and thorough, Ashley. I miss you!

      The fact that I’m so indiscriminate with book buying is why I’m doing the book buying ban. But yeah, the easy buying on Kindle makes it so easy for the buying to get out of hand. Amazon is an evil genius.

  6. I almost never re-read, so I really don’t buy books that I get as ARCs. Actually, I don’t buy books that often at all, though I’ve started to do it a bit more. I just don’t have time to read books more than once anymore, it seems!

    1. Leila

      The ARCs I buy are usually have reread potential, are the first in a series, or from an author I love (I like to put money in their pockets). Even if I dont reread the hardcovers are just so pretty…

  7. Amber

    I decide I’m going to buy a book if it’s on sale and sounds mildly interesting. Used book stores and Amazon’s Kindle deals generally take a lot of my money. 🙂

    As far as new books go, hmm…. Well in September, there were a couple releases out with super pretty covers that I’d been eyeing for months, I bought those without even really thinking about it. Then I decided to buy four other books because they’d gotten good reviews.

    I’d love to pre-order books, but I never have before. I may change that though if it’s a book that sounds really interesting and has good reviews.

    I haven’t bought any copies of any ARCs I’ve received, well, minus one (which I had to do to read it because it’d been archived), but there are two that I really want to buy because I loved them (Falling Into Place and The Walled City). I’ve discovered my library’s e-book section so I’ll be using that a ton for new releases since they tend to buy almost anything I recommend. 🙂

    1. Leila

      OMG used book stores and Kindle deals are evil! Although it seems for the most part you’re pretty thoughtful in your purchases. Preordering is a lot of fun. I preorder and often forget I did, so when the book comes it’s a fun surprise. Plus, preorders don’t count in my no book buying challenge, so I’m doing more of that this year!

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who bought an ARC that had been archived. Fortunately I only had to do it once. I’m much more careful about making sure I download my ARCs in time now.

      I’m jealous that your library buys the books you recommend. I wish mine did…

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment!

      1. Amber

        Oh I wish I were really as thoughtful as that came out. 🙂 That same week in September, my library had a book sale and I’d discovered Book Outlet and Thrift Books, so it was pretty bad. Haha. But i’ve been pretty….resistant. I think. Since then. I’ve tried anyway. Lol.

        See, I think I would forget about a pre-order too and be super surprised and all like “omg, it’s *insert book!”. Ooh, that’s great about pre-orders not counting against your challenge! I should’ve gone on that challenge.

        Yeah, I bought the book since t wasn’t expensive and it was super interesting. I’m really glad I bought it because I loved it so much (Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter). I’ve only done it that one time too, I’m better about downloading my ARCs on time now too.

        It is really nice. 🙂 They got so many books I recommended that I can’t wait to read.

        1. Leila

          Yeah, I go on book buying binges too. They’re so much fun, but there’s so much guilt. I’m sure I’ll break my ban when I go to a book Festival in a couple of weeks.

          I’m super excited about several preorders, including the updated version of the Outlandish Companion. Stuff like that was the reason I didn’t count preorders.

          I’m glad you liked the book you had to buy. I really disliked the one I did. I’m also way more careful to download all my ARCs.

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