I read a lot of books – fiction, non-fiction, paperbacks, e-books. But where do they come from, I hear you ask? How do I obtain such a fabulous variety of reading material?
- Charity shops. The source of maybe half of my books. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a charity shop sells donated goods in aid of good causes. Often you can find items such as books for a small fraction of their recommended retail price. My local charity shops usually charge between 50p and £2 for a book. This encourages me to try books that I’m not sure I’ll like – I could be pleasantly surprised. Often when I’ve read the book, I’ll take it to another charity shop.
- Library. I am fortunate to have access to a public library service, although the future of it is uncertain. I tend to borrow e-books, through an app called Borrowbox which allows a loan (or reservations) of up to five books. The loan period is three weeks, after which you can renew if no one has reserved it. You don’t even have to return the book – the loan automatically expires. I’ve found that e-books are a great way to borrow some of the newest titles.
- Online purchases. I will hunt online for a cheap used copy if I want a particular book which is not at the library. Occasionally I’ll buy a new copy of a book I’m certain to keep after I’ve read it. I buy large sacks of cat litter from Amazon every few months and this is my cue to treat myself to a new book or two ‘to qualify for free delivery’.
- Bookshops. There are only two of these in my town – Waterstones and The Works (which is arguably a stationery shop which also sells books). Oh, and there are supermarkets with their small selections of the latest titles. It’s not likely that I’ll pay full price for a book, unless as a present for someone, I have a giftcard to use, or I’m making a rare impulse purchase. Since I get rid of any book that I’ve read and didn’t love, I’m reluctant to spend £8.99 or more on a book which I’ll read once and then give away.
- ARCs/proofs. Occasionally I will review an advance copy from NetGalley but it has to be a book I’m really interested in. I find that the e-proofs can have strange formatting and typos so I balance this out with my attraction to the book’s concept. Sometimes I’m offered books for review, but I’ll only accept if it’s the kind of book I’d seek out myself and I have to see a preview to ensure that I’d find it readable. I want to spend most of my reading time on the books already waiting on my shelf.
- Other sources. Very occasionally I will be given a book as a gift or someone will lend me it. I also have a few classics downloaded on to my tablet which were out of copyright and therefore free. Sometimes I’ve even won books in giveaways. And finally, there are a lot of books on my shelf which I’ve acquired over many years and kept because I treasure them or because I want to re-read – so the books I already own are also a source.
How about you? Where do you get most of your books from?