Where I get my books from

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 ยฃ2 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 ยฃ8.99 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?


22 thoughts on “Where I get my books from”

  1. Coincidentally I’ve done a similar post (though still in draft) where I’ve mentioned Borrowbox. Do you find there’s quite a long period to wait for more popular titles? It can be quite a few weeks before they become available to borrow. The selection seems quite narrow too, though maybe this could be down to what individual library authorities are willing to pay for I wonder.

    1. I find that sometimes the wait for a book seems long (because they are assuming that every borrower who has reserved it will keep it for the full 3 weeks) but that the queue often gets shorter as people drop out/finish early. The selection of books is I think generally good – a variety of genres and age ranges. It changes every so often and they get rid of authors’ backlists sometimes (for example, they used to have all Bill Bryson’s and Kazuo Ishiguro’s books on there). I have no idea how it works with different library services but my best guess is that there are several in some kind of consortium, with the selection partly reliant on which publishers allow their books to be e-library books (because not all publishers do). Thanks for your comment!

  2. I am pretty much the same as you for buying books. The library I use for audio books and I get them via Borrowbox. Also I use Audible and we have a phone box in our village where we have a book swap!

    1. I find I can’t get into audiobooks (my concentration is not good when listening to things!) but there is a good choice of them through the library on Borrowbox. I love the phone box book swap idea! Also some train stations and shops do this.

      1. I find audiobooks are ideal when I am out in the garden weeding, if I just sit and listen I nod off to sleep if I’m not careful! Borrowbox is fab and gives a really good choice.

  3. I wish I had all these possibilities… the library only has a very small selection of English books and equally in the charity shops (for 4, 5 eur). Since books are so expensive here (often 19,99 eur but English hardbacks are even pricier) everyone likes to keep books. There are also only a handful of English bookshops here, so I was ever so happy when I learned about Bookdepository ๐Ÿ˜ Itโ€™s my nยฐ 1 bookshop now.

    1. Hooray for Book Depository ๐Ÿ˜€
      It must be so frustrating getting hold of all the English books you want.
      I imagine that receiving books in exchange for review becomes an important source of books for bloggers in countries where English is not the main language.

    1. It seems I’m lucky to have so many choices! Do you read books in French too?

  4. Aww that cat ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ I’ve acquired so many books from different sources over the years and many of them have been gifts or some treasured charity finds handed down from people as well as things i’ve found myself. If I’m honest I rarely buy full price books either. Authors complain about shops like The Works but if it wasn’t for some of the cheaper shops out there I wouldn’t have read as many books as I have, including a lot of classics I got from my local Works shop when it was closing down (it re-opened further down the high-street!๐Ÿ˜‚)
    I moved not too long ago from a place that had a brilliant library which had a good selection of a range of genres, and regularly got hold of new titles, to a library which really doesn’t have much new stuff coming in, plus they now charge me if I want to reserve anything or request a new title ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I think the digital selection of books is probably better but I don’t read many ebooks at the moment due to my eyes not tolerating looking at text on a phone/computer for long periods and I don’t have a working ereader at the moment that doesn’t hurt my eyes.
    I hadn’t thought about buying cheap used copies of books online, I suppose it depends on delivery costs but that’s definitely something I think I’ll look into, plus there’s some books I treasured reading when I was young and I’m desperate to find copies no matter what condition they are in. This was a great post, you’ve given me more ideas of where to get books from ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. He loves books ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I agree some authors are not pleased that people buy discounted books or even that people borrow from the library – I don’t know if you have heard of Terry Deary the children’s author, anyway he annoyed the librarians very much by saying that kids don’t need libraries! https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/13/libraries-horrible-histories-terry-deary
      I think it’s standard now that libraries charge for reserving books. I suppose it’s a small way for them to get an income.
      If you look on a website such as Amazon Marketplace, you can get some very cheap used copies (sometimes just a few pence, which with postage added might work out to one or two pounds).
      Thanks for your comment, glad you liked my post!

      1. Wow, what an idiot that author is, and to think I like Horrible Histories ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„. Libraries are the reason I got to read do many books, it’s no different to people buying a book and then that book being shared freely to lots of other people. Plus libraries are often responsible for me later buying a book…what planet is he on๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜‚. I’ll definitely check out Amazon marketplace more, thanks for the tip๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

        1. It was a very stupid thing for him to say, especially as his books are so popular in libraries?!
          Yes I have instances too when I borrowed a library book and liked it so much that I later bought it!

    1. My library used to have RB Digital (for magazines) but the service was cut when they had to make savings. Along with a free MP3 service and various other online subscriptions.
      I like Borrowbox a lot, it’s responsible for most of my library book reads in the past couple of years.

  5. I loved reading this, I’m always interested to hear about how people get their hands on the books they read. I buy too many books at full price so I need to implement some of your options, it would certainly save me some pennies!

    1. You’re welcome โ˜บ ideally I suppose I should buy full price books to support the industry but I read so many that it would be ยฃ30 a week just on books!

      1. I think that buying at full price is what stops me buying so often. I would much rather buy cheaper and more often though because you can never have too many books!

  6. I love browsing through second-hand bookstores and library book sales. A person can find so many unique titles.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s always interesting to see where people find their books. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I like browsing used books and finding those gems! And I read every book I buy so it’s never a wasted effort.

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