Feeding Bookworms On A Budget - Part 2
Deciding to buy new versus used books
Hello! I'm Sri Juneja and this is my children’s book recommendation newsletter. You can subscribe by clicking on this handy little button:
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In my previous post, Feeding Bookworms On A Budget - Part 1, we talked about figuring out your book-buying philosophy. Essentially, to understand when you want to buy a book to add to your permanent home collection. Today, we’ll discuss how and where to spend to actually do that. The matter of going about it is applicable to any book collection be it for yourself or for the kids in your life. Let us tarry no further…
Deciding how to spend your reading dollars
Once you have a sense of your approach to building your book collection, it then becomes a matter of figuring out how to actually do it. I see it breaking down over two things (the two things pretty much all purchasing decisions boil down to):
Availability (TIME) - How quickly do you need a specific title? If you want it right away, you’re probably looking at going to a local bookstore and buying a brand-new book. If you’re willing to wait and shop around, you might get the book you’ve been wanting on sale or even at a secondhand book sale. The difference in the price of a brand-new book and its secondhand equivalent is usually significant enough to make secondhand buying incredibly tempting.
Affordability (MONEY) - One of the great things about books is that everyone can afford them. Ultimately, it’s a matter of what your budget is and how much you want to spend on any particular title.
When it comes to taking into account the affordability and availability of a particular title, I’ve created a graph of (some) options below:
As you can see, it sort of breaks down into two camps: buying new or buying used. In the case of buying brand-new, there’s definitely a cost associated with getting that latest book ASAP. On the flip side, if you’re willing to wait a little bit for that popular book to flood the secondhand market, you’ll probably save a good chunk of money.
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Buying used vs. new…
I buy new now and then but most of my collection is used and bought at book sales or through secondhand shops. While it’s definitely cost-effective to buy used, there are times a brand-new book just hits the spot. Here are a few pros and cons of buying new and buying used:
Buying brand-new means being the first owner of the book. Usually, this means buying from independent bookstores, retail stores, and online stores.
Excellent condition—one of the best parts of buying new is knowing you get to hear, feel, and experience that satisfying crack of opening a book for the very first time
Accessibility—it’s incredibly easy to find titles that are new or popular
Availability—you can get it (nearly) immediately which makes brand-new books the perfect, easy impulse buy
Author support—buying a brand-new book helps authors earn royalties and encourages them to continue to bring their stories to life
Can be expensive—the convenience of a brand-new book often comes with a heftier price tag
Older, less-known titles are harder to find—the opposite of #2 in the Pros section is that physical stores will primarily stock the most popular books. Even online bookstores may not always have older titles readily available
Insanely cost-effective—this is a no-brainer; buying secondhand will almost always save you a sizeable chunk of money (see next bullet for cases where it might not)! If budget is your only restriction when it comes to buying books, then buying used will open the floodgates and your home will be filled with stacks and stacks of books.
Title availability—you can almost always find the book you’re looking for be it new or old. Keep in mind though that the newer a book, its availability in the secondhand marketplace will be lower so, applying supple-and-demand principles, while it will be less expensive than buying brand-new it won’t be significantly cheaper.
Environmentally friendly—choosing to buy secondhand means books are in the circular economy for much longer and less likely to end up in landfills
Condition—this doesn’t really fall into a pro or a con for buying used but it is an important consideration. Buying used books in person is great because you can see the book’s condition and decide if it’s worth buying. The issue with buying online is that you’re not always sure what you’re going to get condition-wise—many online used booksellers don’t actually show pictures of the book. One person’s “very good” may be another’s “acceptable” and different online sellers may have a different understanding of these terms. Just something to keep in mind.
Time—there are a couple of time disadvantages to buying used:
Finding the book you want—it may take some time to find the book you want; even if the title is available it may not be at the price point or condition you are looking for
Time to actually get the book—if you purchase a book from an individual, it can take some time to get to you. Alternatively, if the book you’re interested in is only available in another country, factor in that transit time as well. Having said that, I believe these instances are typically few and far between.
Hygiene—this one is most important for those with very young kids. If you have a baby or toddler in your home, you know they have a penchant for putting things into their mouths or manhandling things (hence the popularity of board books!). If you buy used, you may want to consider buying books that can be easily cleaned (again, board books!) before you put them into your home collection.
I’m working on a master list of the best places to find and buy books and it will be available for free to my newsletter subscribers. It will also include my favorite places to buy books in non-print media formats as well. Once it’s ready, I’ll let you know so you can keep an eye on your inbox for it!
Do you buy books new or do you buy them secondhand? If you buy used, what is the best deal you’ve scored? Share by hitting the comment button below!
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