How/where do you buy books?
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Read an essay from a reader, posted below, in which he talks about how the changing practices of readers and the rise of the internet may be responsible for the sorry state of publishing and book sales (I read somewhere that book sales were down 6% from last December, 2007).
Where do you buy most of your books, how much are you willing to pay?
And here's the article that started it all:
(Once again, thanks to Gord for finding me this.)
I buy most books online, but from independent sellers. I also buy at local independents and B&N when I find myself there. My local B&N clears the unclaimed special order shelves in the summer and has a big sale. Lots of interesting stuff turns up then. So, probably 75% online, 15% local indy, 10% chain.
Thanks for that breakdown. I'm interested in how that compares to most people. We don't have a real book store where I live so my numbers are probably close to yours, Ben, since I have to rely so much on the internet, Amazon, abebooks, etc.
My habits are probably something like 40% chain, 40% local indy (including used stores) and 20% online. When it comes to books, I'm an instant gratification guy. I use a lot of coupons and take full advantage of whatever sales are available, but I see no problem in paying full price for a hardback by a favorite author.
"I see no problem in paying full price for a hardback by a favorite author."
Publishers (and authors) LOVE folks like you...
I buy about 95% online, about 3% at my local reseller, Half-Price Books, and 2% at various indie and chain bookstores.
Online it's split maybe 60/40 between eBay and Amazon.
I stick mostly to my TBR piles when not having to buy something for a group read.
It's a conscious choice. Books are my life in a very real sense; I'm not a social person (although I do have a core group of good friends) and most movies and television shows don't interest me. So I have a vested interest in trying to keep authors, bookstores and publishers in business.
I'm glad Amazon exists. But to me there's nothing like the thrill of going to a used bookstore and stumbling across a book on the shelf you've been waiting years to find.
Cliff, I live in a large city (Oklahoma City to be exact), where we have several big chains, a handful of used (though the majority of these are not very big or terribly exciting) and one fabulous independent.
Like bibliophool, I too am instant gratification, but in a different way. I forget to buy books, so I need to do it when I'm thinking of it, which is why I buy online most often.
When Cliff recommended Mortification earlier this morning, I looked it up, remembered I had seen it reviewed when it came out and didn't buy it. So, I zipped over to Biblio.com and bought it. Now, this is only true for this kind of book, something that will be read a time or two and probably passed on to whomever pops to mind while reading it. If it were a book for one of my collections, then it's an entirely different process.
Usually I'll get by books from the library for free (my favorite word) but, if i am going to buy a book I'll buy most through half or ebay. There is 1 used bookstore in town, and if they have what i'm looking for, great, if not, I'll just go online. :)
I have no problem buying used books.... such a money saver!!
I buy the bulk of my books on the Internet - from Amazon, eBay, or direct from the publishers. I also buy books at conventions from dealers, and very occasionally from bricks-and-mortar bookshops.
In fact, during the 1990s, I would return to the UK once a year for leave, and spend at least one day of my holiday in London, tramping up and down Charing Cross Road on the hunt for novels on my wants list. During my last few leaves, before I returned to the UK to live in 2002, I didn't bother. I could buy the books I wanted online. I buy more books now than I did when I spent all that time visiting book shops.
There are many reasons why publishers are in trouble, but the rise of the Internet is not one of them. More books are published each year than the previous year - and that's been true for decades. One important reason has been the various changes in the book market, with sales increasingly handled by a smaller number of larger operators. Such sellers demand huge discounts, will not stock books unless sales are guaranteed (or promotion is paid for), and insist on a quick turnover of units. In the past, books might have sat on shelves for months, and in warehouses for years. Now, thanks to Thor Power Tools, no publisher carries excess stock. And the likes of Borders are only interested in carrying a title for a couple of weeks. If they don't sell the few copies they've taken, they'll return them pdq. Borders' monumentally stupid central buying policy has not helped. Which is one reason why the company is in such poor shape now.
Basically, the reason publishing is suffering - much like the music industry - is corporate greed and stupidity.
"The reason publishing is suffering - much like the music industry - is corporate greed and stupidity."
Agreed. Perhaps with the demise of Borders (soon, I'd wager) we'll see small independents try to fill some of the vacuum.
Borders will probably survive. They have plenty of cash, so they can weather the recession. They'll close a bunch of stores and restructure, but they'll likely survive. Hopefully, they'll run things better afterwards.
This is getting better and better.
Now I've got Ian ranting...
I quoted that report about the drop in book sales but now when I think about it I have to wonder: what kinds of books are being sold/not sold, what are the sources for these numbers, does that include internet sales, etc. I buy a ton of books from library sales, used book places, back yard sales, any place I can find them. The internet has been a godsend in terms of hard to find or very specific books.
New books? There's a wonderful McNally Robinson book store in Saskatoon but we might walk through its doors maybe 6-7 times a year. We've had a gift certificate for M-R languishing for months. I look at a 17-$22 price tag on a trade paperback and I shudder. Our circumstances keep the budget pretty tight and if I can get two or three good used volumes for the price of one new one, hey, count me in.
A 35-$40 hardcover? Not a chance. But the local library is good about bringing books in, thus I can have an early crack at the new Iain Banks or, coming August, 2009, Pynchon's P.I. novel...
There have been moves afoot in the US to force sellers of secondhand (used) books to make a royalty payment to the author. Which is just too stupid for words.
Personally, I break down my book purchases into a number of groups - 1) collectible authors, whose books I will buy in first edition, 2) favourite authors whose books I will buy in hardback on publication, 3) friends' books, which will I will also often buy in hardback on publication, 4) authors whose books I like and will buy in paperback new, 5) other authors, whose books I will buy in secondhand paperback. Unfortunately, this system means I typically buy two or three times as many books each month as I read. So the TBR pile just gets bigger and bigger...
Library book sales probably account for ~ 25% of my book purchases; Amazon and affiliates ~40%; with most of the rest coming from local independent bookstores and Borders when i have a 30-40% coupon.
When i lived nearer to Chapel Hill probably 60% of the books were from the very good Bulls Head university bookstore and most of the rest from second hand stores in town and the 2nd Foundation (several years defunct) for SF/fantasy.
Shoot. I forgot to count the annual library booksale. We have a few, but I'm thinking of The Big One. That probably accounts for 10% of the year right there. I go all three days, as they keep bringing out fresh stuff each day.
The stuff I've managed to snag at library book sales...wow. Some of my absolute favorite titles--some of them donated so they don't have all that annoying library stickering all over them.
One of our local bookstores donates preprint and review copies which are usually in impeccable condition to our library book sales - so it's always nice to come home with a set of books are both inexpensive and in very good shape (that is without mold or dust). But then I've also picked up the first editions of both the trade and bookclub printings of"the Man in the high Castle" at the Pittsboro library book sale. So far it's been about a net loss of 2/1 in terms of shedding our collection from excess - but I don't think we have that many more to donate.
I buy 99.9% of my books from a chain store. I work for one. What will I do when I quit? I will miss the employee discount, that's what.
Then the hard choices must be made. I am used to buying a new book almost every week.
New books cost too much money. 80% by trade through Paperback Swap, 10% at used book sales of the AAUW or libraries, and 10% a remainder place called Book Depot. I don't shop on the web, since I would buy more than I could ever read.
The web really encourages impulse buying too, which is tough for a guy like me who's had titles on his "Watch" list for ten or fifteen years and when he finds them, snaps them up and damn the shipping costs!
My home is so full of clutter, I am just about 100% done with buying books. I check on library books and audiobooks on library loan websites. I then chase them down at local libraries.
Lately I've been buying dozens of used hardcover books from alibris.com. They have all kinds of books for $1.99, free shipping for $49 and over, and discount codes. I challenge myself to find 25 books I want to read per order, and they end up costing $1.70 each! It does require a tedious amount of research to learn about those books, but I figure that the price is a great incentive to broaden my interests. It is a near-perfect way to acquire books, but your tastes have to be within the bounds of their limited inventory.
As for new books, I buy through the Conservative Book Club (the hardcover Politically Incorrect Guides) and occasionally through Amazon.com and Ebay. I love the Everyman's Library but I try to wait until I can get them used.
On rare occasions I buy a used book or two from a used bookstore or a library sale.
Generally, if alibris.com doesn't have it for $1.99, I wait until they do.
Alibris and abebooks are Godsends--but I do find some of these places (including eBay) try to make up for the good deals they offer by over-charging for shipping. So one has to be vigilant...
I just bought a signed first edition of John Crowley's Engine Summer on eBay.
Have you heard of BetterWorldBooks? free shipping in the USA and $3.97 per book world wide- has new and used books, lost of ex library books.
Another good online bookshop is The Book Depository which is UK based and offers free world wide delivery - only has new books. The only disappointing thing I've found is that many titles are out of stock/unavailable. Delivery is quick 3 to 5 days.
Great tip and thanks. I have a steno pad where I keep my wish lists constantly updated. Pages of books and movies and music I've been looking for, sometimes for 10 or 15 years. I'm relentless--it's either I'm a bibliophile or mentally ill...and sometimes I think they're one and the same.
I usually get music from Amazon but books from Powell's. I love going to the bookstore and my younger son usually wants to go whenever we are downtown. I try to avoid buying hardbound books these days. My son likes fantasy and found this really long fantasy series by Terry Goodkind which has slowed him down and which he only expects to get in paperback, so that helps.
We can't really afford to buy too many books - fortunately we have a great county library system. The only problem there is that we are a city of readers and popular books can be on hold backing up for months. For example, that new book about a cat in a library - I have it on hold and I am #100 or so on the list.
Yep, if it wasn't for libraries, I'd be bouncing around a rubber room, eating flies and hissing for "Master..."
Also, I tend to want to read the book before I invest in a copy to own for my very own. So, read it in the library, then if I love it and think I will re-read it, go find it in the bookstore, is my usual modus operandi and will be unless I come into an unexpected legacy.
The long-lost aunt or uncle who made a fortune mining silver in the Andes and leaves it all for you.
I tremble at the notion...
While Rochester, MN doesn't have much in dive bars, dance clubs, used book stores or other accouterments for the rootless cosmopolitan, it does have a great library. I'm in the process of reading their Sandman collection. It's also a chance to check out awesome (and awesomely expensive) art books from Thames & Hudson, Rizzoli, and other highbrow publishers.
Some day I'll move to Chicago or Seattle or Madison.
I'm looking for a place to buy a copy of Sade Fourier Loyola that's reasonably priced and unmarked. I'm not one who marks my books. I guess I'm a dandy in that department.
Oh God, not Roland Barthes! Memories of my senior year in college, taking a graduate level seminar, reading him and Foucault so that we could use a common vocabulary while discussing Mario Vargas Llosa novels....
I don't like marking up books either.
How about this:
Thanks for the heads up, Cliff. The cheapest one is a German translation ;)
While I'm no fan of French critical theory either -- my grad school was Our Lady of the Academics Groveling at Foucault -- I like reading Sade. How other writers react to his writing fascinates me. Plus Barthes bringing together such a bizarre trio of writers is interesting.
Yes, too much theory causes nose-bleeds and pretentiousness run amok. I wonder what some academic would say about the "discourse" of Literary Snobs?
Academics are pedantic, snobs amusing.
One boring, the other (by turns) annoying and enjoyable.
But what do I know? I lasted one year at university, hated it and rarely miss an opportunity to knock academia, just for old time's sake...
Got my master's degree in Milwaukee and got out. I don't miss life as a student so much as I miss living in a college town. Living in a town without a college is just weird.
And I won't go back to academia unless there's monetary recompense in my salary, like adding another zero to it or something.
the small ironies of book selling/buying. #3 & 4 for Abe's list, Nov. 2008.
3. Le Capital by Karl Marx
Sold for $5,795
4. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Sold for $5,750
Since I live in the middle of nowhere...online, particularly Amazon. I always go to Powells when I am in Portland.
I'm to the left of the middle of nowhere so I empathize. The on-line world saves our asses...
40: That's hilarious. Commodity fetishism at its finest. And selfishness is good.
Rochester, MN is a big town (100K) in the middle of nowhere. A perfect place for a medical clinic and a global leader in computer technology.
80% amazon, 5% ebay, 10% chain/local indy.
/edit:: .. 5% other. Bad calculating. :D
I think that proportion is going to be par for the course for a good number of people, if not now then very, very soon.
Borders in the U.S. is in big trouble, a major stakeholder just divested themselves of a large chunk of shares.
I can see some not so distant future when book stores are curios, selling a combination of new and used to survive (mainly used). Places run by old-fashioned book lovers, catering to an increasingly aging clientele. A venerable coffee maker bubbling in the corner for favored, regular customers.
Am I being too pessimistic and is it necessarily a bad thing that the big book barns are too inefficient and expensive to maintain (overhead, infrastructure, staff)?
Hard to tell, I have to give a guesstimate.
60% brick-and-mortar (non-chain) stores
30% online, several different sites
10% second-hand booksellers at science fiction conventions
The main reason I buy so much from physical stores is because I want them to survive.
I am prepared to pay what it costs if I really want a book. I can't give a limit, it depends on how bad I want it. The cheaper it is, the more likely I am to buy it. But I very rarely buy books that cost more than $125.
i can smell the coffee. like this LT thing, bookstores should be for those with a few fastidious ears, as Logan Piersall Smith wrote once. at present they are a place for harry patter jamboorees.
Yeah, they're lookin at the book witout da pitchers innit. Doncha wanna givem a medal or sumptin?
Young adult novels have never been better than they have the past five years or so. Very good stuff out there in terms of juvenile fiction...
Bookstores of the future will resemble pawnshops: cluttered interiors, quirky owners, smell of mouldy carpets and old cats. Remember the shop in Orwell's "1984"?
"Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clemens..."
Books won't be banned, much to Sarah Palin's chagrin, they'll just be "uncool" like 8-tracks and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Perhaps hipsters in the future will buy books "ironically" as they go about their post-Singularity business ... if we don't obliterate ourselves first.
#56 ...cluttered interiors, quirky owners, smell of mouldy carpets and old cats
Of the future? You've just described the soon-to-be-closed "A Book Hunter" on Saskatoon's Main Street.
Is that the one run by, shit, is the guy's name Bob Shaw? Used to be a football player? I was in there a number of years back. Grunting, uncommunicative owner, piles of books heaped without rhyme or reason. Was there a cat? Can't remember.
Harry, I'm smiling like a Hallowe'en pumpkin right now. You say the place is closing? I may have to make a trip there next time we go to Toontown. For old time's sake...
Yep that's the one; piles of books which were never in the same place twice, books which you were excited to find--until you picked them up and realized that they were in seven pieces, capricious pricing (which cancelled out on the end), the lingering odor of a litter box in the back room, the basement steps which were an invitation to a broken neck. Now I'm getting misty-eyed...
But if you want to have one for old time's sake you'd better hurry. His lease is up at the end of this month.
Thanks, Harry, I'll try to make it by. We love Broadway Avenue and my friend Stu runs "Vinyl Diner". Do you know the place? Right above HEL music. Stu is one of the nicest, sweetest guys on God's green earth. I'd walk through a wall of fire for the likes of him...
Uptown in Minneapolis has a couple places to buy used books. Unfortunately, Rochester is a barren wasteland for used bookstores, unless you could Goodwill and Savers.
Atta boy, Bob!
My son Sam (13) and his buddies are planning a special trip in to Saskatoon to the Galaxy Theater (big screen) when the "Watchmen" movie comes out.
Er, if it ever clears its legal hurdles...
So when is that movie coming out? Around the same time we leave Iraq?
I know. The lawyers will make a fortune before that's done.
It's like the kerfuffle with "Lord of the Rings", the Tolkien estate and Peter Jackson being fucked out of millions in royalties.
But when push came to shove, the movie company came through with big bucks because they didn't want to lose a crack at a guaranteed cash cow like "The Hobbit".
THAT one might end up the highest grossing movie of all time. And don't think those Hollywood gits didn't know it. Jackson and the Tolkien folks had the hammer (and good for them)...
I buy the majority of my books online, maybe 70-80%. I use Abebooks a lot, and normaly go through with a list of books I am intending to get (about 60 long at the moment), and see how many I can find cheaply from one seller to save on postage, but this can take a while, though there is way to search several at once (boolean search). I sometimes get books from ebay, as you can sometimes get rarer books cheaper on there than Abebooks, as ebay sellers are not usually experts on books like bookshop owners. I am more likely to make impulse buys at bookshops though, as it saves the postage cost that would be included online, and if you hang around too long deciding whether or not to get the book then someone else might buy it another day. I also like being able to go through the book and have a quick read of bits of it, and check out its condition etcetera in shops.
I have a dangerous tendency of not wanting to buy just one book at a bookshop. "How can I leave here with just one book?" Is that the sign of an addiction?
I buy on the Internet for specific books. In bookshops, I usually hope I'll find something unique and cool that I wasn't looking for ... or forgot that I was looking for. I came across Uncollected Stories by Faulkner that way. And 3 volumes of History of Private Life and High Weirdness by Mail. All good stuff.
As my inventory continues, I come across books I forgot I owned, saying, "Why did I ever buy that?"
Any similar experiences?
Well, I've become a lot more discriminating. In the old days I used to walk home with five bags of books from library sales and my arms would be three inches longer by the time I made it to the front door.
Now I have my wishlist and it's pretty daunting. I try to stick to it but every so often...I run a bit amuck...
I've been there. Library book sales, especially college library book sales, fed my addiction. Needless to say, when serious culling begins, some of those will be the first to go. Some are interesting, some are just plain outdated and useless. I have a 1970s biography of Mao I will probably never read. I need to go on a book diet.
But as a Pynchon reader, I'm aware of entropy. So, when things go, I'll end up buying more books. The Horus Heresy and more Barthes are on the list, as well as The Savage Detectives and a bunch of other stuff.
At CONvergence there was a book exchange program. I picked up Battlefield Earth there for free. Worth every penny ;) That I do plan to read, perhaps even write an exegesis on my blog. Others blog on Proust and Bolano, I'll write on L. Ron's 1000 page heap of stinking drivel. Battlefield Earth provides a nice balance to all my other Great Writers. Literary feng shui ;)
Actually, I love those little private stores, their atmosphere, the actual "feel" of love for books (not necessarily for the customer, too - anyone remembers Bernard Black? :> ) and I'd probably never leave one without at least one purchase.
It's a completely different thing with big chains though. Because yes, they do have an immense range of products, but whenever I'm there I'm usually not looking for anything special. And it's just way more comfortable to do that kind of browsing at home, with a cuppa/coffee right by your desk, cross-checking on reviews, getting them delivered to your home for free in 1-2 days.
If that was at least slightly on topic..?
kswolff, have you taken the self-test Tom Raabe published in his _Biblioholism - The Literary Addiction_? I see it's reproduced on this blog: http://lizzysiddal.wordpress.com/2007/08/17/biblioholism-tom-raabe/
Cripes, Angle, I'd be terrified to take such a test. I'm afraid it would show a real pathology to my addiction.
Lilias: "Black Books" fans here. Met a few odd or anti-social book dealers in my time and I worked for a couple of nut bars in a bookstore that should have been the dream job...but turned into a nightmare.
I'll miss those characters and I don't get the same feeling of intimacy in chain/gloried coffee shop abominations. The staff in the big box stores aren't nearly so well-read and I'm really not interested in the literary recommendations of a 22-year old kid with more shrapnel in their face than a badly wounded war vet.
Yup, I'm a curmudgeon, all right...
"literary recommendations of a 22-year old kid with more shrapnel in their face than a badly wounded war vet."
Nice. I love finding the unexpected bon mot here.
I've drastically curtailed my book buying habits for reasons relating to space, finances, and not pissing off my girlfriend. But this becomes a sort of binge-and-purge-type situation. I know I'll buy the remaining volumes of the Horus Heresy once I find the opportunity. I also use Xmas and birthdays as reasons for people to buy me books or gift certificates to bookstores. I got 2666 and Nazi Literature in the Americas for Xmas. "Nazi Literature" is also a great book about books.
Does Borders have a section called: "Nazi Literature"?
Follow the goose-steps, Wagner playing softly from a speaker secreted behind the transcripts of the Eichmann Trial...
Does Borders have a section called: "Nazi Literature"?
Look under "Management"...
Two things, one on-topic, the other off.
First, on-topic, there is a new independant book store here in Plano, Legacy Books. I visited it the other day and have the following observations.
1) It's on three levels, each level having way more empty space than any good book store should have.
2) It is more sterile in appearance and execution than even the B&N down the street. It is possibly the most sterile place of business I've ever been in. All glass and ivory paint with scandinavian spareness to the furniture.
3) The staff all wear blue-tooth devices that are apparently interconnected on a private network. They spent their time in near constant chat. Very high tech, but disconcerting when one asks for assistance only to have the person start talking nonsense.
My favorite bookstore of all time was in a ramshackle Victorian house on 12the st. in Atlanta. I don't remember the name (12th Street Books, maybe), but the upstairs was definitely one more shelf away from collapse and it was nearly impossible to browse without knocking over at least one unshelved stack of books. But the kicker, the place reeked of books, good books, bad books, young books, old books, all used books.
Off-Topic. kswoff, I've seen you refer to warhammer 40k since you got here. I'm interested. What would you recommend to someone as an introduction to this sub-genre? I googled it and came up with a game. I'm not interested in the game, but it's obvious you guys are talking about books. What's a good one to get started in this line? One that will give flesh to "Warhammer 40k" as a description.
That bookstore sounds really awful. I dislike new, chain-type bookstores as well. They need to smell like books and that only happens if they have used ones.
(Edited to remove some extraneous "reallys")
#80 - the Inquisitor trilogy by Ian Watson, if you can find them. I can't speak for the more recent stuff.
Agreed, Ian Watson's book is over-the-top space gothic awesomeness. Also, check out Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn trilogy.
I haven't been keeping up with the Black Library -- since they churn out multiple new titles every month -- but the ongoing series Gaunt's Ghosts and The Horus Heresy are also fun reads.
They're literary junk food, but some volumes are surprisingly well written for a franchise that is basically Lord of the Rings ... but in space.
Hello. I have enjoyed reading all the posts. I feel like I haven't read enough books, but that might be a good thing. So the question, where do I buy books.
Most of the books on my shelves are ratty and used. That's because when I was at Berkeley 15 years ago, there were so many used book stores, by favorite was Moe's (four levels). I was out of control and bought 5-8 books at a time with 20 bucks at least once a week. I carried it on the bus with me in two Safeway plastic bag. Then there was Cody's next door (an institution like City Lights across the bridge in San Francisco) with the best art books. When I found out Cody's closed down a few years ago, I was shocked and upset. I don't know if Moe's is still there, and I don't want to find out. City Lights will always be there. You can get a delicious canolli across the street, too.
In Los Angeles there was Angel City Books, but I was forced to spend money on new, expensive theory books for seminars which were never available used and sometimes. hardly available new (they were the kind of books that came shrink wrapped, like some top secret thing). That killed me. I blew a lot of my meager stipend on those. They had to be ordered only for class. Back then, Theodor Adorno's Aesthetic Theory was out-of-print, so I photocopied it from the library and had it spiral bound at Kinkos. I score all my books, even today, and that book needed to be annotated for sanity's sake. I did that a lot.
I am now in a mid-atlantic suburb and there are no used books stores. The libraries are okay for fiction. I am a busy single mom with baby and can hardly browse a corporate book store like Borders without it being a huge task. My life now is completely the opposite from how it was before, so I browse on-line now on the couch while I watch my daughter play. I buy all my books and hers on Amazon from "reputable book sellers" with those five-star ratings and hardly anywhere else. I'm an Amazon Prime member which means I paid one fee to have free shipping all year regardless of how much I purchase if I happen to buy new. That has been good. I like getting books in the mail; it's like Christmas. Kind of boring, by that's about it.
Zoe at "Moe's"?
Friends of mine went to S.F. a couple of years back and brought me back a book from Moe's about the history of pulp writing.
They said without hesitation: "Cliff, you would LOVE that store."
So it's on my list of places I'd like to visit (Thermopylae is at the top and I want my ashes scattered there after I join the choir invisible along with a certain ex-parrot).
The Canadian dollar was in great shape against its Yank counterpart about 8 months ago but now we're below 80 cents. That makes on-line ordering tougher. When it was close to parity, I was like a werewolf in a chicken barn...
I've never been to Thermopylae, but I recall a description from Professor Elizabeth Vandiver. It's right across from a truck stop.
Hey, at least it probably isn't a Stuckey's...
I once hung out with a girl we called Mop. One day she said her real name was Thermopylae. Her real name actually was Miriam.
That's the last time I say something so incredibly treacly to this bunch...
hmmm... it's hard to break down my spending.
I'd say 10-15% at my university's book sales (though this year I was good and only bought one book)
30-35% at Chapters (mostly online for the deeper discount) sometimes in store though. I work part time at a Starbucks in a Chapters so it's hard to resist impulse purchases. But at least they're Canadian!
30-40% at ABE books (for those hard back classics)
15-20% while traveling (I have to bring books home as suveniers!)
and then around 5-10% in used book stores. This used to be much higher, but then I moved away from BMV books and now I only visit once or twice a year.
When buying online I try to choose Candian sellers if I can (although sometimes their shipping costs are more thant their US counterparts) These numbers will definatly change drastically when I move home for eight months after graduation. Most likely 70-80% online, 10-20% at chapters and the rest when I travel or in used bookstores. Le Sigh.
Another article in praise of the bricks and mortar independent bookstore, courtesy of the post-mortal John Updike:
I would be hard put to break my book-buying down into percentages of where I buy what, but here is where I do buy in rough order of amount--I buy the most at the top one, the least at the last one--but I do buy regularly from all of them.
Edward R. Hamilton, my favorite remainder dealer has the best prices of anywhere. (Online only.)
Better World Books. Like Amazon only much better. Free U.S. shipping (Only $3.50 to the rest of the world), and they donate books and money to literacy causes. (Online only.)
Powell's Bookshop. I love this store and wish I lived in Portland. (Online only, at least for me.)
Used bookshops. I hit these regularly.
Nonprofit book sales. I look for ones that have a lot of stuff.
Local independent bookstore. I buy perhaps dozen or 15 books here a year because I like to support them. But the prices. Yowee! I buy hardcovers, and it's becoming harder and harder to justify prices in the $30-$35 range. I dread the day I find $40 on a regular book.
I'm cheap and no good for the publishing industry. Most of the books I read I check out of the library. When I do buy books, It's usually stuff I find when browsing the used books on amazon for 1 cent.
@92: I buy gift cards to Powell's as presents for people in order to support them. I can't afford to support them as much as I would like, but I do what I can.
Powell's is having trouble and had to ask a lot of its workers to take "sabbaticals" so that it would not actually have to lay anyone off.
used bookstores have been dying out in the chapel hill area. I think there were 5 or so along Franklin St (the main street on the N. side of campus) and now there might be 2. In part, i'm imagine it's owners retiring. But i know the only SF bookstore gave up trying to comptete w/ online sellers. But a couple of comics shops seem to be doing quite well.
Accidentally emailed a bookstore in Chapel Hill--Armadillo Books--because I thought they had a hard-to-find volume on puppetry I was going to give to Sherron as a gift for completing her Master's degree in April.
Wrong Armadillo Books but the woman there was very gracious.
They're elitist and go against our gay-hating creationist Christian heritage. Twilight is so kewl!
Just kidding. Libraries are the last bastion of democracy, especially in the land of the Sanctimonious Hustler, the Good Ole USA.
I buy the majority of my books from second-hand book shops. I rarely buy new books and when I do, I usually order them online as they're cheaper than in-store. I read an interesting article on books in the future - you can read more here:
It's a good post (followed the link) but there's a mournful quality to it, along with the defiance--technology will leave us old book lovers peeing into the wind, methinks. Books as artifacts, as curios. All too possible...
I buy books from:
Amazon and Amazon marketplace
Barnes & Noble
The Library of America
The Folio Society
There will probably be more sources that I buy from in the near future, but that remains to be seen. I have a bunch of stores like AbeBooks, Powell's Books, the Book Depository, Half Price Books, and Alibris bookmarked, but I haven't gotten around to researching them.
I have had to drastically rein back on my book buying habits, due to increasing poverty and have started using the library again - just as it moves into smaller, temporary quarters pending refurb of the Victorian original.
I buy or bought most of my books on-line, going for price above all. I used to love second-hand books and bookshops, but now find the smell nauseating for some reason. I still buy the occasional second-hand one from abe but only if the condition is very good.
There is no independant round here, there's a Borders and a Waterstones in the nearest city but they don't seem to stock what I want and it's cheaper on-line usually.
I like the new Everymans and buy them when a Penguin paperback classic finally disintegrates. Damn it, the things are only 30 years old, it's a disgrace.
You may simply be nauseated by the mold and the dust in used bookstores. I have the same issue. Half Priced Books -- the ruin of my pocket book -- is a nice halfway point. It looks and feels like a Barnes and Noble or other franchise that sells new books, while the variety and individuality of each store -- and each store's community -- is apparent on the shelves. While Half Priced Books is a nationwide chain, it feels more like a community-run enterprise.
I get the same feeling when I go to Bucca's, an Italian restaurant chain. It feels more authentic and more family-run than, say, Olive Garden.
As with anything in the retail world, it is based on the consumer's perceptions, not necessarily the economic reality. In some cases, chains and franchises can sell good product.
Most of my book buying is at independent bookstores. I mainly live in a college town and independent establishments rule the area. There are three bookstores on one street alone, not a single Borders or Barnes & Noble among them. They carry a fair mix of new and used. I'm not particular as long as the book is in good shape. At least one of the bookstores doesn't inventory their used selection -- relegated to the basement below all of the nice, shiny new books -- so you can find just about anything down there. One friend found a $200 retail price book for $15.
"One friend found a $200 retail price book for $15."
I have DREAMS like that...
103: I don't know what it is - a sweet, wet smell, utterly disgusting.
I love musty, crowded, chaotic used book stores. There are few things in the world I like more than digging through $1 shelves and finding odd out-of-print books.
As far as the internet goes, my latest find is Symposium Books. They have tons of NYRB and Dalkey Archive titles at really cheap prices. A word of warning though: many of their books have big price stickers on them.
Half Price Books has a "Clearance Section," which has the occasional hidden gem or at least pop commercial hardcovers for 90% off. Probably be the only I'll even convince myself to buy those Left Behind books.
There is a used bookstore in Sarasota, FL -- forgot the name -- where the cashier actually took the stickers off the book after you paid for the book. Talk about service? Nothing irritates me more than hard to get off stickers on nice books. At least there is Goo Gone. Cheap and highly recommended for the discerning bibliophile.
We have something similar--you're right, it's great.
PS: Use ventilation when applying or else bad things will happen. Stuff is as strong as paint thinner.
One of my favorite "Red Green" episodes has the hapless handyman using a powerful glue inside a closed van. Suddenly he starts crooning "Eight Miles High" and falls backward in the van. Almost had an aneurysm, I laughed so hard...
I'd say I buy about 75% from Borders, 15% from Barnes and Noble and 10% from independent book stores...
I think I need to support Independent and Black-Owned bookstores a tad bit more...
Hey, Lhea, haven't heard from you for awhile. Good to have you around again...
Thanks Cliff! It's good to be back!
I've been pretty silent at redroom too. I ought to pop my head back in there every now and then...
Hopefully I can buy Laura Workaholic by Alexander Theroux once I get employed. That, The Kindly Ones by Littell and Inherent Vice by Pynchon are big on my wish list. If I can't get them now, I'll see where I can find them used. When I waited, I found Mason & Dixon and Europe Central for cheap in the used section at Barnes & Noble. The BN Hivemind has to be good for something ;)
THE KINDLY ONES sorta scares me. There's a nasty taint following that one.
I STILL kick myself for not finishing EUROPE CENTRAL. Didn't get it done in the 3 weeks allotted me by the inter-library loan police. Drat, drat, drat...
I think the nasty taint is what attracts me to the Kindly Ones. Nazis, sexual depravity, the Holocaust, etc. Then again, I plowed through Juliette by Sade I also want to see what all the hype is about. Yes, it's not finely-wrought Realism about real people, but that gets boring. Why do you think I spend my time reading about Space Marines battling the forces of demonic Chaos?
I am enjoying the new Wishlist feature on LT. Now I don't feel so bad that I'm unemployed and poor.
I share the concern in #45 that bookstores will become like antique stores for the rare and dwindling number of "collectors" of old-fashioned hard copy books. Kindle and the Sony version and no doubt others are going to make (are making) digital books so convenient and, eventually, attractive to the masses. Just like ordering online music or films. As someone who loves old-fashioned hard copy books, and managed bookstores way back when, that seems unfortunate.
Having said that, for a book lover nothing can match the experience of an Elliot Bay Bookstore in Seattle or the Strand in NYC. In Chicago we have Powells and Barbara's and some niche stores, but as elsewhere, it's dominated by the chains. Downtown it's B & N, Borders and Books-A-Million.
My own book-buying, because I work downtown, is probably 60% chain stores, 20% online (normally, buying books I can't find in the stores), 10% library (okay, book taking out, not buying) and 10% independent. Like others, I'd love to increase the last one, but it's often hard to find the time to travel to where the independents are.
#119: I just don't know. Call me skeptical, but I think people will still buy hardcover and paperback books. Granted, they may be utter shit: mass market commercial drivel. In the future, not everyone will have money to drop for a Kindle. That's implying there will be a middle class in the future. The Elois will have their Kindles and iPods and Priuses; but the Morlocks will have their mass market drugstore paperbacks. Remember the digital divide and the attendant class divisions.
Given our environmental record, our oil addiction, and our habit of electing of corporate rag dolls to elected office, we'll be lucky if we have the resources to produce books (paper or electronic) into the next century. The future, if we're lucky, will be some farcical bastard combination of the Road Warrior and I am Legend, fighting plague zombies in order to score some "juice" from the local hockey-masked warlords.
I'll be waiting for your novelization, Karl. Sounds like my kinda flick.
Or, how about The Medium is the Message, or as we called back in the olden golden days The Medium is the Massage. Another great Canadian thinker. No?
I've gotta get away from this nostalgic feeling old shit. Do you reckon it's my arthritis flare-up? It's too early in the day to be my alcoholism. I've only had three bourbons straight up and it's not quite noon.
LOVE that corn whiskey. I know scotch drinkers who recoil when I describe my affection for Jim Beam or Wild Turkey (I'm no fan of Jack Daniels, however).
What can I say? I come from the lower classes and we loves our mash, yes, we do...
My wife's grandfather used to make and sell his own recipe. Back in them Narf Jawja hills where I belong. He was (in)famous for it.
I think we're both hicks at heart, Gene.
Hicks with a mean taste for good booze...and good books.
Salut, my brother!
It's a little early in the day to discuss drinking isn't it, gentlemen. I'm still recovering from last night.
I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from a movie.
"He was one of those all day drunks. Always with a load on, but never wobbly."
From The Naked City (d. Jules Dassin,1948).
I'm a single malt scotch fan. 18 year old Macellan is my favorite. I prefer the highland scotches, although the peaty lowland scotches are nice sometimes too.
That said, Irish whisky is a noble beverage. One of the many cultural treasures the Irish have given humanity, along with many of our greatest authors and poets.
geneg, the story about your wife's grandpa's moonshine reminds me of another favorite movie, Thunder Road.
Oh wait, this thread is about where you buy your books.
I buy most of my books online from independent booksellers through abebooks. I also support my local independent used bookstore as much as I can. I buy surprisingly few books from the chains, even though I work for one of them. Unfortunately the chains have little on the shelves worth reading these days. Just a lot of crap like James Patterson and Twilight.
My favorite bookstore is definitely The Strand in NYC.
Good post, David.
Haven't seen "Naked City" for awhile but it's noir so I love it.
Single malt--only when I can afford it. Otherwise, it's moonshine and rotgut.
"Thunder Road" Robert Mitchum and rum-running. Can't beat that.
And good on your for not adding your skekels to the coffers of chains. Indie all the way, mon!
Great video! Thanks. Robert Mitchum was the coolest guy ever.
Single malt--only when I can afford it. - Alas, me too.
I have health problems and cannot walk a store. I have a used book store next to my office and visit there often. Everything else is on the internet. I try to buy as many books used as I can but I have learned to be careful about where I buy them.
I've probably said this before on some other post (I do indeed, suffer from ol' timers' disease), but of late, I've been buying a ton of books from Half.com and Barnes & Noble (used books).
I've no idea how these used mail-order books guys do it. They sell books for next to nothing; often around a buck. They dramatically underestimate condition ratings. Shipping costs are reasonable. What a labor of love.
But shipping does goose the total cost to the consumer WAY up. So the seller makes no money, the buyer can't find bargains. Oy vey.
I do have several used bookstores nearby, and I've many local libraries with sales. I frequent them as well.
I'm beginning to feel deep sympathy for Cliff, who lives somewhere out in the remote, northern plains. There probably aren't too many cheap bookstores in the land of the Cree...
You said it. If it wasn't for Book Depository and eBay, I'd be screwed. Even the major bookstores in Saskatoon and Regina don't tend to stock a lot of books by Sebald (for instance)...
I went to Portland, OR about a month ago for a very short vacation. I spent almost an entire day in Powells (The largest bookstore in the world). Yesterday I found myself looking up flights and hotel costs to go back to Portland next summer.
Excuse me while lapse into fantasies of returning. It make take me a moment to get back as I'll need to clean the drool from my chin.
I empathize--thinking about books triggers Pavlovian responses in many of us here...
Was that the sound of pages turning?
*Wipes the saliva from chin again*
Well I guess I'm going to have to put Portland on my list of places to go...my husband will be so thrilled when I tell him why...
Make sure you go to the downtown Powells. You won't be sorry. It was without a doubt the most incredible bookstore I've ever been in.
Are the books well organized and shelved at Powell's or is it one giant maze, like the Strand Book Store in New York (or so I've heard, I've never been there either)?
Thanks for the love for Powell's, all. It really is a local treasure. We have a great library system too. I think Portland is the best place for a book lover to live - in the US at any rate.
140: Books are organized by room and within the room by broad category and then in alpha order by author. I believe you can see a map at Powells.com if you are interested.
I buy 99% online. 5% Ebay, 25% Powell's, 49% Alibris, 20% Amazon and 1% local at Half-Price books. On very rare occasions the local purchases come from Borders and Barnes & Noble.
probably 20% from local independent bookstores (we have at least 5 v. good ones, 3 of which are easily accessible (meaning i don't have drive into Raleigh or Durham). When a local store promotes a local author I like, i defn. try to buy there.
On line used to be almost all amazon - and the majority of online book purchases still are..But i've been getting more and more used books from Abebooks. Also, of course, library book sales. Though i was shocked that i could only find 1 book i wanted at the Chapel Hill library's last sale.
What really amazed me was the Powells at Portland's airport.
What a strange airport. Places to buy real food and a place to buy real books!
Hi Bob, you must be near me I'm in Carrboro. I buy about 90% of my books on-line, amazon, alibris and add-all are my best friends, and the rest at library sales and used bookstores. There used to be a great bookstore called Branch's in chapel hill and I gave them about 80% of my book money but they've been closed for several years. The local library is good, but if your tastes, like mine, stray too far off the beaten path they don't carry it. The new fiction selection is quite good though you need to be prepared to wait, I find that by the time the wait is over I can find a used copy online of whatever I want for not much more than my usual book fine.
I'm a buyer-from-bookshops. I could get books far cheaper from The Book Depository (no shipping! even to Australia!), and at times it's bloody tempting (saw a paperback of Homer and Langley priced at $32 the other day), but... I love my local bookshops and I love browsing in a physical shop and chatting with the booksellers and I'd hate to ever lose such a thing. (And I can afford - mostly - to buy local, and not even flinch at $30+ for most new releases.)
So, I've got five new bookshops I support (my local independent near home, my local independent near work, Kings Comics in the city, Abbey's in the city, and Galaxy in the city for sci-fi), plus a generous scattering of second hand shops.
And the library. I'm not buying books at the moment (trying to reduce Mt TBR - it's still going up, but it's going up slower than usual, which is a sort of victory), but I am allowed to wallow in the free books joy that is the local public library.
I do allow myself to browse online with The Book Depository (and recommendations here), and then I go and check the library & Abbey's online catalogues to determine any interesting books' availability in Australia. If it's not available right now, well then, one day it will be. (C'mon! Game Change has to be available in Sydney in paperback and less than $55 one day soon!! And in the meantime, there are plenty of other books to go on with.)
Better World Books has a Labor Day sale: 4 used books for 10 bucks. Do some searching, there are some good titles available for cheap:
How about this guy--a used book dealer who utilizes new technology to make a buck:
I buy almost exclusively online, because it's practical. But it has its price. It took me several years to realize that Amazon's suggestion feature had smoothly nudged me into a rut, reading mostly the same kind of fun to read but not that great books, simply because they were presented to me. I'm not complaining, I enjoyed them, but still, the quality of my reading had been, I feel, going steadily down. In the last few years I have discovered the pleasure of reading quality literature again, and again thanks to the Internet. I have adapted my way of looking for books and have started broadening my horizons again.
I wouldn't say that the Internet was responsible for this downward trend of mine, because there are very few bookshops where I know I can walk in, look at the recommendations and walk out with a few good books. In fact, I know of only one in Paris (I'm sure there are others, but I've been too lazy to look for them), and since I moved house it's a bit too far for me now. Most bookshops will just show me exactly the same run of the mill, not exactly bad but rarely great stuff. And some really, really bad stuff too. And even that bookshop I like is a limited selection of quality books, based on the staff's preferences.
On the other hand, since I started using the Net as a source of book recommendations (outside of Amazon I mean), I have discovered a great number of books and authors I would never have thought of trying, and often had never heard about before. Potentially at least, it's a much richer source than just one or two bookshops, and it's here all the time, whenever you need it. But you do have to make an effort to find the right sources.
Most of my book shopping is online, Amazon marketplace indie stores get my business most of the time...I'm always looking for something in the Literary Fiction vein of books that tend to be off the beaten track, so it's hard to find what I want in retail stores, tho' it doesn't stop me from browsing the stacks looking for something new (turn to page 99 or any random page, read it and see if the magic is there for me, flip through a few more pages, but not the end!)... I adore used bookstores when I get to them, indie shops are a must stop when I'm out n' about...I always loved Walden's at Shoppingtown Mall, but then they went out of there... I hate that Martin Dressler monster Carousel Mall so much I haven't gone to visit Borders for years (which I love very much when I do get in there, I get lost for hours)...B&N on Erie Blvd gets my business often enough because they're conveniently located...but usually I'm there to buy for someone else rather than for me...
Once upon a time I worked in a bookstore... I have thought about opening my own book shop someday...
I get most of my books from library sales and charity shops. There is also an excellent used bookstore nearby. Although the city it is in is better known for its NASCAR races and "Spring Break", the store owner is always asking me to bring him books on philosophy.
I buy books to read and books for resale and trade. I am considering going full time as a scout and online seller very soon.(Jan 1?) A used bookshop would be lovely, fun, and expensive
"I am considering going full time as a scout and online seller very soon." A good gig and there might be a niche for something like that; good luck. (Did you check out the link in #149--sounds like the fellow in the article is doing something along similar lines.)
yes, I saw the message. He's using a scanner and that seems to be the trend. My bookseller friend's attitude is "that's OK, just don't mess up the dust jacket on that Gatsby first ed". (a book published in 1925 wont scan and the dj will add $10,000+ to the value)
Since Rochester is a void where culture is concerned, I usually end up scouring books at Savers or Goodwill. A hit or miss endeavor. Although lately I've been picking up stray volumes of Louis Auchincloss that some philistine seems intent to get rid of. Probably thinks big words are socialist and the Manhattan settings among the patrician elite don't represent the "Real America." (Rochester is a pustulating swamp where the Tea Party steeps. Needless to say, my job searching is prioritizing places elsewhere from this pro-family, pro-health commune of business hippies.)
The preceding message has NOT been endorsed by the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.
Bookstores and how they're dealing with the rise of e-books:
200 Borders stores closing:
They're closing the Borders near my job in Manhattan. Figures. There's a bookstore called Argosy nearby that particular site, and in a way it's nice to see an old family-owned shop outliving a big-box dinosaur. It was a shame when a new Barnes & Noble knocked out the Gotham Book Mart.
I have found some good stuff at Goodwill and Savers (another thrift store) in Rochester. The constantly transient international population does yield up the occasional gem in the pile of Pattersons and Kings. I found a German exhibition catalog one time and I recently found a bilingual edition Lithuanian museum book. The museum focused on the occupation of Lithuania, covering both Nazi and Communist oppression.
As I've said before, I'm blessed. (Hmm, blessed; 'funny thing to say for an ol' pagan).
I'm surrounded by a dozen excellent town libraries, am just a couple klicks from a wonderful used book store and I'm very comfortable with all those $3 (shipping cost ) texts from the likes of BookMooch and PaperBackSwap.
Life is good.
"Bless" is originally a pagan word, and many religions have the concept, so why should it be strange? Now if you were an atheist instead...
Yes, I'm lucky to, a couple of good brick-and-mortar stores for new books and several used-book booksellers not far from where I work.
I usually say "Bless you" when someone sneezes, despite my atheist proclivities. Then again, my prayers that Pat Robertson suffer a coronary on-air have remained unanswered. FWIW.
Then again, at the thrift stores I go to, I always find some tome written by Ayatollah Robertson or fascist closet case James Dobson tainting the "Religion and Spirituality" section. If any two figures have contributed to the rise of modern atheism it is them. Robertson's and Falwell's comments after 9/11 did not help either. Luckily, moderate and liberal Christians and religionists have kept consistently silent and cowed whenever the Rightwing Christian swine have befouled the airwaves. Way to go, Neo-Bonhoeffers!
The future for booksellers:
I buy my books at kobobooks.com since I have a Kobo ereader. I'll pay about $7 or less.
Secondhand bookshops in trouble too:
...and book sales drop again:
For bibliophiles--time lapse photography of a book store being stocked.
No drooling on the screen please...
For years I worked in an indy bookstore and took my salary in books. Literally. Not sure to this day how the owner cooked the books to keep the IRS from noticing.
With college fees to pay for two sons, however, I now acquire ~90% of my library second-hand. Yes, I occassionally experience guilty pangs that I'm not doing my part to sustain the bookselling industry, but not bad enough to pay $30 for a new hardback.
Am lucky to live in a highly educated, literate, diverse, wealthy (except for me) area: our library's tri-annual used book sales offers more current, quality literature than the local Barnes & Noble, all for ~$2/tome. Dealers from up and down the coast descend on the sales to restock their stores. I volunteer and it's hugely entertaining watching them tear through the boxes of inventory with their little scanners, alternately grumbling about the exhorbitant prices and yelling at their runners (kids/locals paid to carry out bins of books the dealers intend to purchase) to get a move on.
Besides library book sales, I also frequent university/college used book sales (a great source for obscure classics) and have found that thrift stores often stock an eclectic mix of turn-of-the-century hardbacks. The yellowed pages and uncut edges somehow make the stories seem more exotic.
Realize I'm thumbing my nose at progress, but just don't get the thrill from shopping on-line that I do from running my thumb along dusty shelves of spines.
Dorritt, you've described my current & future state modus operandi, to a "T". I just noticed another upcoming 100,000-book sale, this time in Southport, on Connecticut's Gold Coast.
Portly people with scanners will be all over this library book sale, like stink on a monkey. I shall be there too.
(without the scanner, ie, just portly).
Borders is about to be "liquidated":
173: Not sure what that means in reality, especially given the institutional schizophrenia of American business. In the end, it will probably mean a different ownership. Perhaps a new name on the shingle. (Look at the auto industry with Rolls Royce owned by the Germans, more specifically VW.) I'm not too worried. People will still get their Pattersons and Clancys and such from brick and mortar bookstores. The sky isn't falling yet.
I happened across that book sale finder site years ago; I can't believe I'd forgotten about it!
One of the sales in NC charges an extra $10 for scanner-users. :)
Beardo, you've discovered my secret! Maybe I'll hit the tent at Westport, CT tomorrow. It's a small one, a mere 80,000 titles...
One of a dying breed--a profile of a longtime Vancouver bookseller:
Terrific article. Thanks, Gord.
Another fascinating bookseller:
Check out this book seller:
The legendary Dreamhaven Books is closing:
My favorite way to buy books is to go to the Strand Bookstore in NYC with a list of authors/books and then searh their shelves. While there of course i look at their many tables of books and invariably find something of interest. For anyone visiting NYC this is a must stop.
I also go to the library. in addition to books i find many music cds and movie dvds there. The NYC Public Library Sytem is still alive and well.
i also go on line to find books at discount. Amazon, AbeBooks.
i also search through many book blogs and will occasionally but a book linked there as a way to support the blog. The Literary Saloon, Conversational Reading, The Millions are 3 of my favorites.
Dude! FREE BOOKS! ... in PDF form ... and you have to have a gmail account to register. Otherwise ... FREE BOOKS! FOR FREE!
Another venerable indie bookstore shuts its doors:
The cost of maintaining bricks & mortar stores, the overhead, the staff...pretty tough. No margin for downturns, etc.
Finally some good news on the bookselling front:
(except maybe at art museum gift shops if I get really excited)
Ebooks: Barnes & Noble (I have a Nook), with the occasional Project Gutenberg download
Dead Tree Books: 95% Amazon, 5% B&N bookstore
Once in a blue moon I'll check something out at the library
Now, about 80% of my book purchases are in ebook form.
What's so great about hardcover books anyway? Most of them are ugly and hard to carry around.
190: Wow. Now I've got a place I can look for my Anna Kavan, Arnold Zweig and Aola Vandergriff novels. Only, the prices are all out of whack. Kavan and Zweig, forgotten literary writers, both show up below the dollar line, whereas Vandergriff, a writer of fitfully entertaining 70s gothic soaps, starts at 4.00 and rises exponentially. Something's not right here....
191: No one ever said the free market was rational ... well, at least no one who was rational.
I was out surfing LT groups and happened on this thread. I should get out more often.
I love the hunt for used book stores. And I almost equally dislike stores which sell only new books. Partly it's the high pricing, partly the limited selection which I loathe. I have no qualms about buying a new book in special instances, for example, my guilty pleasure is the Pendergast series by Preston and Child. I absolutely buy those ASAP off the presses. And I'm not above downloading a Kindle item once in a while - I used the Amazon Lending library to read Hunger Games just recently. And for authors who pique my interest, I use Amazon or Abe - I obtained most of my JC Powys and Alexander Theroux books that way.
But principally, I have a passion for used book stores and all the serendipity that entails. Ever since my wife and I moved from the Far North to West Virginia, I use every occasion for a road trip w/lunch stop-overnight stay to scout out local used book stores. God bless Google. Meeting the owners is almost as much a pleasure as finding the books. No one becomes a used book dealer to get rich - it's a calling - and any price is a fair one where a used book store is concerned IMO. I view purchases as donations to a worthy cause. I've even experienced my own little episodes of American Pickers at times, rummaging through boxes in book store basements and converted barns, thanks to the indulgence and tips of friendly bibliophiles. I'll also file my elbows to a gladiatorial spike and wade into a crowd at library and church book sales too, when necessary, although the mob scene usually takes away from the contemplative state I seek when randomly selecting books. And finally, there's the stall or two in any large antique mall, but usually those are almost always disappointing - too expensive, sometimes moldy and often dull.
Of course once you have a book, you need to shelve it, and be able to find it. This influences my selection pattern. In scanning rows of book spines, I look for specific, often extinct, publishing houses like Virago Modern Classics, City Lights, Grove Press, Mentor, Modern Library, Dell Cardinal, etc. Partly because if I like what I sense to be the editorial criteria of a publisher, or even its graphic style, I will want to read the book eventually. The beauty of having rows of books by the same publishing house is that they line up and or stack perfectly. Am I OCD? Of course! I'm a collector as well as reader.
Just got a rather strange accumulation from Alibris: 2 theology books, 2 books of Euro-smut comix, and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations The combination of these titles would probably make every Amazon.com consumer algorithm explode.
This is where a John Henry could outhammer an algorithm. The suggested book you might like, based on these selections is http://www.amazon.com/The-Subgenius-Psychlopaedia-Slack-Bobliographon/dp/1560259... N'est-ce pas??
A proposed model for a new type of bookstore:
A moving account about the economics of running a used bookstore:
It's a tough business to make ends meet.
Very interesting thread. I'm another library user, but I also get cheaply priced books online. I used to love perusing real books in real bookstores, but a permanent ankle injury has slowed me down on that.
I buy about half of my books on Amazon and the other half at used bookstores, but I also find some treasures at Goodwill. There were long years when I amassed relatively costly hardbacks from various book clubs and paperbacks from the Quality Paperback Club, but I would often end up with books that were not exactly what I was looking for and would thus remain unread. The great thing about shopping online is that I don't settle for something just because it is in front of me at a traditional bookstore or in a tiny catalog of the month's choices. I culled a lot of books from my collection several years ago (much to the betterment of the selection of the local Goodwill), but I went a little overboard and have since replaced a small percentage of them. Because of the internet, however, I have been able to replace old paperbacks with vintage hardbacks, which are less portable but really cool.
80% Half Price Books & other used book stores, though "other used book stores" is becoming harder and harder to find.
10% Amazon (Kindle stuff)
5% library sales, garage sales, etc.
5% other to include B&N.
I'm at 100 here, but I do pick up an occasional book on ebay. maybe 1% or so.
Something like that.
I bought about 90% of my books from Borders. I really liked their first store in Ann Arbor -- I visited there all the time.
Now, I buy most of my books from Amazon. And when I have some money in my pocket, I try to go to Black Owned bookstores in whatever city I'm in and buy a few items. But, I don't go to the Black owned bookstores nearly enough...
I buy books exclusively online. Most at Amazon. If not available on Amazon, through its marketplace sellers or Abe (which is also part of Amazon). Rarely Alibris. Also one can go on Amazon UK or Deutschland for books that are not available in the USA which is very low-stress. It has been several years since I have been in a bookstore. I have been buying mostly from Amazon since about 1996. The stores that sell new books frustrate me enormously by their limited selection. Used bookstores are OK, but I always prefer new books if I can get them, and there are no longer any used (or new) bookstores close by for impulse browsing, it has to be a special trip. And I can search much more effectively online for used books when I need to. 50 years ago I used to order books from Blackwell's in Oxford and the Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. That was not really so different from buying online except that the turnaround time was six weeks to two or even three months. I'm not really a reverse snob, I just thought this very interesting thread needed a contrarian viewpoint.
I mostly agree with anthonywillard: my practice is very similar - only the places are different. Due to my country of residence, I mainly use bookdepository.com for books in English (with some occasional amazon.co.uk for the free shipping we get here in Poland) . For books in my language, I use two similar Polish sites (one does -20% on all titles, the other up to -70% on a smaller selection)
I hardly ever buy books in brick and mortar bookshops these days - mostly because I don't like paying 20-50% more than I do online. It makes me a bit sad - since shopping in person and browsing made the entire thing so much more fun.
I got a kindle a while ago, but to my surprise, I don't find myself buying many books: titles in my field of academia usually suffer from poor editing, lack of proper footnotes (!) and page numbers. When the price is similar, I often end up getting used HC from amazon. For literature, kindle is just not as fun to read as a proper paper book, and ebook prices are often silly. So what's the point? As long as I still have shelf space
"As long as I still have shelf space..."
My God, man, you should print up t-shirts and posters with that motto. Every bibliophile in the world would want one.
P.S. Please slip me a few points for the idea.
@ 206 JerzyLazor: Your experience with Kindle matches mine exactly. The lack of page numbers is an insuperable problem, and the difficulty of referencing endnotes makes the device useless for most of the books I read. Also, the large majority of books I buy do not exist on Kindle. The only benefit is that it is easy on my aging eyes, and I suppose that aspect is not to be dismissed out of hand. So it's OK for non-academic books, but as you say, somehow not as satisfying as having a real book in hand.
You also mentioned the price advantage of Amazon over bookstores, something I forgot to mention in my post. It's been so long since I have been in a bookstore that I forgot how much more expensive they can be for the same volume. I too use Book Depository sometimes and I like it a lot for its depth of inventory and good service. Kudos. Same for Better World Books that several posters have mentioned.
ThriftBooks has this annoying habit of stickering their books with labels that leave an ugly residue or tear away part of the spine covering when you try to remove them.
Where do I buy books? New, mostly from a place called Quarter Moon Books and Gifts in Topsail Beach, NC. They are a tiny store so almost everything I ask for has to be special ordered. Sometimes I drive out there to pick them up (it's about 4 miles away as the crow flies, but a 21 mile drive), and sometimes the owner happens to be coming in my direction so we meet for coffee half way.
If it is something more obscure that she can't get, I order from one of the larger indies in my state--usually Flyleaf Books--because I'm out that way every other month or so and can pick up things since I'm in the area.
For out of print, can't find it anywhere I look on Abebooks.com.
I do pick up lots of ebooks, usually as supplemental resource material for other things I'm reading or reviewing. So I'm a big fan of gutenberg.org.
And I do have a standing account with Audible, which I realize is an Amazon company, but since none of my usual stores carry audio on a regular basis, I don't feel like I'm taking business away from them.
I'll try our downtown B & N and Books-a-Million first, and if they don't have it, I'll get it from Amazon (if I'm not getting it from the library). I'd like to shop more at independents, but the only one near work doesn't stock much of what I like.
211: I discovered Books a Million when I traveled to Houston for a training course. I thought it was very difficult to find stuff. They had too many similar categories and no customer computers for searching their catalog, and not a lot of staff, so it was a bit frustrating. However, it was a nice big store, with lots of older titles, definitely nicer than the BN usual chain store.
ETA ...and staff were super friendly, though they did not know a whole lot about the books.
Bookstores...they will be missed:
(Another gem from Gord)
I made a promise to myself that I would not buy any new books untill I have read all that I own.
So..... found a little bookstore in a trailer behind a super small library. Wow!
I have now made a promise to myself that I would not buy any books that I already own. (Unless the covers are cooler and leather or hardback.)
214: Like the way ebooks will replace printed books? And now that we have iPads, no one uses laptops anymore?
Book-shopping with Michael Dirda:
"I'm glad Amazon exists. But to me there's nothing like the thrill of going to a used bookstore and stumbling across a book on the shelf you've been waiting years to find."
YES! That, exactly.
Most of the books I read nowadays are in English (because I love the language), so I end up having to buy from eBay or BookDepository, in order to find books in English for a decent price (including international shipping). Imported books can be rather expensive here in Brazil, unless they are Penguin classics or something like that. Therefore, I cannot totally forgo internet...
Nevertheless, I love going to second-hand bookstores and just... finding books I want by chance! I too have a vested interest in helping bookstores, specially small ones. I am big used books lover (my collection 90% used books), and have worked in a second hand bookstore myself. :)
My son is currently in Brazil, Rio, training in ju-jitsu. Last week he met Rickson Gracie, the thrill of a lifetime.
For most of my life, I would buy only new books and buy them wherever I could get the best price -- at Borders, with discount coupons or (for 3 years) employee discount, or online, usually Amazon.
More recently, I've discovered the pleasures of used books, picking them up at library sales, Goodwill, used-book stores, and my current favorite, since I travel frequently between Connecticut and Boston, the famous Traveler restaurant off I-84 near the Conn/Mass line, where you get 3 free books with a meal (inexpensive and adequate) and additional ones for $.50. (Downstairs is a regular used-book store with appropriate pricing.) 75% of the free books are worthless bestsellers -- mystery and romance -- but I've never failed to come up with 3 worthwhile finds and the occasional gem, like a pristine hardcover of Noel Coward's letters, which lists for $39.95. Great fun browsing while waiting for your food.
I never read e-books, only hard copy. But I usually buy them at used book sales or, sometimes, Amazon if I have enough credit card points to get the book for free.
Over 40 new indie bookstores opened their doors in 2012:
Visit the one nearest you!
Forgive me for not reading the article, but I think the problem is much more profound than can possibly be reflected in statistics or journalistic anecdotes. For most of the TV era the so-called literate population has surrendered the pleasures AND the responsibilities of that very literacy which is one of the few things separating us -- and still only thinly -- from drooling, gibberig savagery. For my entire lifetime even the so-called high-quality bookstores have only been able to survive on the revenue from best-sellers, entirely too many of which have been mind-candy at best, and legal narcotics at worst. I recall Henry Miller's observation on newpapers versus drugs: at-least with the latter you can dream your own dreams, while with the papers you're force-fed someone else's. Much the same may be said against much modern publishing.
There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth in other groups about the decline of brick-&-mortar stores. I honestly don't want to get into that right now, as my concern is for reading, and the good ideas and dreams which should be inextricable from it. The real imperative, namely the support of good writing, and thus, good reading, is first of all to do it, and second, to consume and share it whenever and however you can. If reading is only escape or stress-reduction then I would recommend Budweiser, or a good massage. I don't mind being called a "snob" for saying that 90% of what is logged, discussed, and Gawdelpus praised, here on LT is just so much toxic waste, and the people who take it seriously, are intellectually suicidal suicidal in wasting the opportunity to seek-out, enjoy, and learn from the best that is around them.
The Internet is certainly a mixed blessing, but equally certainly it has brought more people access to more good writing than anything since printing from movable type. If people are content with THE DA VINCI CODE, when they can read Da Vinci's own notebooks for free, or lite-Kristianity in the mode of THE SHACK, when they can read all the versions ofThe Gospels, so much the worse for them.
In another Group someone said that the loss of chain-retail stores was like the falling-away of limbs from a terribly ill body (I spare you his exact wording): a hard thought, but closer to the truth than many would like to admit, or to deal with in a positive way.
A final thought: there are many societies today, perhaps even an increasing number of them, where reading and writing are carefully controlled because of their intrinsically volatile, liberating potential. And I don't just mean North Korea: anybody who knows about school-books in Texas knows what I mean. For us to worry about where we buy Jonathan or Faye Kellerman is a mockery -- more accidental than malicious, I grant you -- of innumerable people who have suffered to produce great writing, or to see it made avaialable as widely as possible.
O, for the record, ninety percent of my buying, both of current material and earlier stuff, has been online for a dozen years. The rest from the few remaining independents shops I know in the Eastern US, the Midwest, and Canada.
I'm still rummaging in the dozens of cubic meters of Goodwill Outlet bins. I was a bit shocked to see scores of bound Medical journals (mostly nephrology, cardiology, etc.) tossed about, at 50 cents a piece. In the 1980s these would have been priceless. But alas, I recognized that it would take a huge chunk of fossil fuel to cart these shelves of journals to some university in the 3rd world, where someone would cherish them.
The end of an era. Sigh...
It was suggested (by anna_in_pdx, I think) that I post this suggested book store here
In re #226: Anna, you rock! This kind of post restores my faith (at-least partially) in LT and in the younger generation. Next time, maybe you can grab a handful of Marxists classics, being certain to include Carlo along with Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo. Rock on!
228: Ah, the benighted whimsy of the Old Ones, alas. The Younger Generation would probably have faith in the Older Generation if we weren't busy dying in wars concocted by old men and attempting to fix the elderly short-sighted greedheads who sent the global economy into a freefall. But hey, at least your music doesn't suck.
Written tongue firmly in cheek.
I enjoy thrift shops. It's like a treasure hunt and the prices are a lot more reasonable than, say, Half Price Books. Albeit the latter usually has a consistently good selection anyway. The usual cost-benefits decision-making process applies.
I bought volumes 1 and 3 of John Mortimer's memoirs (which I found out after the fact), ergo, I shall have to procure the elusive volume 2 online somewheres. Online seems to net the greatest results, especially in terms of plugging the holes in certain collections.
100s of Barnes & Nobles will be closing:
Hooray!/Boo! -- depending on where you stand with the issue.
Considering that they are the only bookstore left standing in my town, it will either be a tragedy or an opportunity for an independent to make a come back.
A cross-cutting observation. If you are anything like me -- a chilling prospect, I freely concede -- you don't pay retail for anything that you aren't reasonably likely to read at-least twice, or pass on to somebody else. This obviously militates against any conventional retail establishment, and conversely helps to explain why many stores (indie and big-corp alike) are stocked with so much schlock. The ramifications on publishing standards, and ultimately reading "tastes" are obvious, and ominous. We are in the age of throwaway everything, including much of what is called "literature". But that doesn't really rattle me, or if it does, I don't see it in terms of the mechanics of trade. While I have always prized bookstores as meeting places first, and marts of commerce second, I am not fool enough to think that the world owes me the continued existence of my own pet hang-outs. Meanwhile, my buying and selling, swapping and lending go on unabated, indeed enhanced by the Internet, and despite the strong artistic down-draft which I sometimes feel, I no more pessimistic about the long-term health of good writing than I ever was. After all, how many of you would I ever have met in a Barnes & Noble. How often do you ever recall hearing discussions like this one in any bookstore, indie or otherwise? Peace to all, -- Goddard
I HATE computer screens. They are inferior to old, yellowed, thin sheets of tree cellulose.
A piece on strange Toronto bookstore, The Monkey's Paw. Next time I'm anywhere near T.O. I'll definitely be stopping in for a browse:
(From Gord, yet again.)
America's "best indie bookstores":
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