Hey loves! Today, I’m writing a discussion that I’m actually lowkey terrified to post, but it’s something I’ve definitely thought about quite a bit, so I decided to just go for it! This post was in part inspired by the recent Top Ten Tuesday post, outrageous things I’ve done for the love of a book. Although I typically participate, I chose not to participate this week because I hadn’t done very many “outrageous” things. It wasn’t until I read through the post that I realized just how much of that is based on money.
I wanted to share a few examples of outrageous bookish things I saw in one or multiple posts that really stuck out to me because I know I would never do them because of money.
Buying multiple editions of the same book because the covers don’t match/there is a special edition cover. This just seems…well, outrageous? Sometimes I just stare at covers because they’re so pretty, but not more than, say, an hour or so. Spending $20 on a special edition of a book I’m not going to read (especially if I’ve already read it, with a different cover edition just so I can stare at its pretty cover for an hour is something I can’t imagine spending my money on.
Buying x number of books in one go. I love deals as much as the next person, and who can resist getting a ton of books for cheap–I feel so happy for people when I see they got deals! But I also have seen so many posts (and a lot on Booktube as well) about people who get, like 10 new hardcover books in one go at Barnes and Noble. That’s $200 in one go just on books…
Buying a book just because of the cover. I don’t understand the rationale for doing this, particularly if it’s a book I’m not sure I’m going to enjoy. I have read books from the library just because of the cover, not gonna lie, but reading library books is free and I can’t fathom spending my money on a book I might not like, or might not even read, just because of the cover.
Owning x number of unread books and still buying more. I just…how can you have so many unread books lying around on your bookshelves? I don’t understand blowing tens or hundreds of dollars on books and then leaving them unread for months on end. Personally, my bookshelf has 18 young adult books on it (and a few kid books and school books), and about 3/4 of those I didn’t pay for (ARCs or gifts). Needless to say, I’ve read every single one of those books, most of them multiple times, and whenever I get the change to get even one new book, it’s a super special, exciting occasion for me.
Here’s the thing. I get most of my books from the library, and I’m so grateful for it. I know I’m extremely fortunate to have such a nice, large, easily accessible library close to where I live. However, there are definitely a few downfalls, things I miss out on, and insecurities that come with predominantly using the library rather than buying books as a book blogger.
Being behind on new releases. I’m so privileged and fortunate to have an amazing library where I get 99% of my books, but with that comes with always being behind on new releases. My library ordered King of Scars in January, and I immediately put a hold on it, but it definitely didn’t arrive right when it came out, and then I had to get in line behind other people who put a hold on it. It’s now April, and I’m still patiently waiting, even though the hype has definitely died down and I’m left feeling like I missed out on something.
I feel this especially hard whenever it’s release day for a very hyped book (King of Scars, Wicked King, Archenemies, ACOFAS, to name a few) and my feed is full of people gushing about it, and I really really want both to just be able to read and enjoy it since I’m dying to know what happens, and to talk about it with other book bloggers!
Not having books for bookstagram. Okay, here’s the truth: I would never be a bookstagramer anyways because I’m too lazy. But I did at one point try to take some pretty pictures for blog graphics, and realized that I had less than 18 YA books to work with (it was a while ago when I had fewer books). There are really only so many ways you can arrange 18 books… I know you can photograph library books, but I typically only have about ten of those checked out at a time, so that brings me up to 28, and you definitely can’t do those amazing book rainbows or all those other gorgeous pictures with just 18 books. And then there’s the fact that they all have that shiny plastic over, and the stickers on the spine, and some of them are beat up and dirty and creased…
But the biggest reason of all is that sometimes it feels like you aren’t a real reader/bookworm if you don’t buy into this materialistic culture. I’ve seen so many posts that are like how much of a crazy reader are you? or you know you’re a bookworm when, and then proceeds to list many of the points I made above. And at the end, my result is that I’m not really a hardcore bookworm because I don’t buy 5 copies of the same book just for the cover or whatever.
Then there are the tags I’ve wanted to participate in…but couldn’t, or at least had to modify, because I don’t have enough books. My measly 18 books don’t have all the random ass qualities listed in bookshelf scavenger hunts, and I’ve certainly modified a few tags that have one of the rules “only use books you own” and just done books I’ve read from the library and don’t own.
Finally, I’ve felt shamed by people who basically imply I’m not supporting authors. I’ve felt shamed from people who say things like once you have an ARC, you still need to buy the book once it comes out to support the author. I would love to be able to do that, but I don’t have money to spend on a book I’ve already read and probably won’t read again. And if I did…I already have a copy… I know that I’m not giving the author any money from reading the ARC, but I still do promote it to my blog, reading out to other readers, and I feel like just because I can’t buy it, you shouldn’t act like I’m not helping… I also really want to participate in preorder campaigns and buy all the copies of the book, but I never do, and sometimes it feels like I’m a bad blogger or reader because I’m not supporting authors this way.
Here’s the thing: a shiny new release from Barnes and Noble right when it comes out is about $20. And twenty dollars is a lot of money, especially for teenagers. Here are a few things I’m sure most teenagers including myself are much more likely to spend twenty dollars on than one single book:
- Hanging out with friends and seeing a movie or grabbing lunch together
- Buying clothes, including saving up for a prom dress!
- All sorts of school fees such SAT and AP tests, college application fees, paying to send test scores/transcripts, or even more social things like going to football games, dances, and musicals.
- Saving for the future! Saving up for our first car or that $30,000+/year college tuition.
I feel like my monetary struggles are especially prominent because I’m a teenager. I don’t have a job, and if I did, it would probably be a part time minimum wage job, and all the money I earned would go to the things I mentioned above. I know there are a lot of teens who do buy lots of books and merch and stuff, and if you have a job as a teen and spend that money on books, kudos to you! But I also know that most of my friends from high school are basically equally broke as me with very little money to put to books or optional things like that when we have college and its tuition jumping at us from every corner. So to me, it’s kind of ridiculous that teenagers might feel alienated from the bookish community that focuses largely on YA.
(I’d also like to take a moment to point out how there are stats showing that the majority of YA books are not bought by teens, and while that’s a post for another day, it’s worth thinking about that part of that might be because many teens just don’t have the funds to buy books).
And of course this post doesn’t just apply to teenagers! That’s what I’m focusing on because obviously that’s my experience as a teenager, but there are so many people who might not be able to buy many books. There are international readers who might not want to pay ridiculous shipping fees, or adults who might be struggling financially and can’t afford to be buying so many books, or just people who could afford it but would rather spend their money on other things!
In conclusion…this post has rambled on for much longer than I originally thought it would (1700 words?? what a monster i’ve written. and probably nobody will read this lmaoooo), but my point here is basically to bring awareness to the materialism present in the bookish community, and how it might alienate some readers, like me, who don’t buy into it.
I’m not in any way trying to shame readers for spending so much money on books. If you love books and choose to spend it that way, then you deserve many fantastic books and I have to say, your bookshelves look gorgeous!! It’s your money, and if buying books/bookish merch makes you happy, then I’m happy for you.
I just am trying to say that not everyone can afford to be like that. If you want to buy five editions of the same book, then that’s fine, but realize that for many people, that’s simply not possible. And sometimes, it can be hard here. But in the end, of course, I’m still endlessly grateful for my library that affords me the opportunity to read so many amazing books for free.
Do you typically buy books, or get them from the library (or some other way)? What are your thoughts on materialism in the bookish community? I’d love to chat in the comments below ❤