I bought HOW many books this year?

The other day a link in an email sent me to a survey entitled “How Do You Buy Books?”  It was aimed at finding out how social media and other cybertech activities influence marketing and book buying, and I’ll be interested in seeing the results on that.  Twitter and Facebook certainly don’t influence my bookbuying habits, since I don’t (at least not yet) participate in either one.  I rarely look at book trailers.  I do check out books mentioned on blogs now and then, and I certainly talk about books here.

I have a mental list of favorite authors whose books I watch for and buy.  I have a lot of published friends, through my RWA chapters and online contacts, whose books I buy.  I find new authors through the three Doubleday Book Clubs I belong to (Science Fiction, Mystery, and Rhapsody) and through recommendations from friends.  And from Amazon, which has gotten to know my tastes pretty well over the years.  And I still browse the shelves at the local bookstores, where covers have a chance to catch my eye.

The survey questions that gave me pause, though, were “how many books have you read in 2011?” “how many print books have you bought in 2011?” and “how many ebooks have you bought in 2011?”

I’m a fairly diligent record-keeper (that’s probably how I ended up working at a bookkeeping service), so I could answer the first question easily enough:  37, including the two I’m reading currently.  In spite of all my Kindle downloads, only ten of these were ebooks.

Books read was easy, books bought not so much.  I don’t keep a list of those, but I do keep all my expenses on the computer in Quicken (you didn’t really think I kept my receipts in a shoe box, did you?).  So I ran a report of everything charged to “books” this year, and estimated as best I could from the memo lines.  I figure I’ve bought at least seventy-five paper books since the first of the year (including all those books from three trips through my local Borders before it closed), and there are about forty on my Kindle, although quite a few of those were free, so they might not qualify as “bought.”  (Quite a few of those free downloads, though, were from authors I have not read, which is precisely what the publishers had in mind.)

So I’m buying books about three times faster than I’m reading them, an estimate born out by the rows and piles of unread books in my bedroom.   I mean to read them all, sooner or later.  Money well spent, every dollar.  She who dies with the most books wins.

I’ve been good this week.  I only downloaded one of Amazon’s daily specials (Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses–I’ve read and enjoyed his The Victorian Internet, about the history of the telegraph network, and I have his An Edible History of Humanity on–you guessed it–the To Be Read stack, from the Borders close-out), and added one ebook from a friend to my Kindle. 

I bought no books at all today, on my weekly shopping day.  But that might just be because I only went to the bank, the grocery store, and Schlotzsky’s for an Angus pastrami and Swiss on rye. 

When the results of that survey are available, I’ll post the link (and here it is).  I hope I’m not the only one who buys three times as many books as she has time to read.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. apronheadlilly
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 00:20:44

    Amazon is my best friend (I especially like used vendors.). I was searching for a book once a few years back, and I used this service that would charge $5 per month till they located it. Now it finally dawnwd on me that they probably had it by the phone, but it was to their advantage to wait as long as possible before appearing successful! Cancel! I eventually found it on Amazon.

    My policy is that when I hear of a book that interests me, whether I have time or not, I get it because sometime I will read it. And since my third son got married, I now have a wonderful library to store my finds in. I told him his marriage better work out because he’s not getting his room back.

    So bottom line: I’m well on my way to being the winner!

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  2. Kay Hudson
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 00:26:57

    There was a great used bookstore in Houston, Colleen’s, owned by the late Colleen Urbanek, a wonderfully acerbic woman who posted hand-written signs all over the store. One read, “the only books you regret are the ones you don’t buy.” So true.

    And if you can’t find something at Amazon, try Alibris.com. If it’s available anywhere, they can find it.

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  3. RandomizeME
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 07:28:55

    Re: “I hope I’m not the only one who buys three times as many books as she has time to read.”

    Oh, you’re definitely not alone! There’s even a helpful “Ebook Buying Addicts’ Support Thread” in a forum (Mobile Read) I frequent 🙂

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  4. Pat O'Dea Rosen
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 17:53:33

    “She who dies with the most books wins.” Great quote, Kay.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 19:01:32

      For quilters, it’s “she who dies with the most fabric,” and I’ve got a closet full to show for my efforts. I haven’t had time for quilting in years, though, and I don’t do much sewing any more, either. Not enough days in the week.

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  5. Cheryl Bolen
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 18:02:52

    We must be alike! I calculate I buy three times more books than I read, too. I really, really would read them all if I didn’t have to work (writing), clean house, cook, and work out 60 minutes a day (even though I’m still fat). And let’s not even mention email and internet…

    You did not say one of your book-buying influences. High-brow commuters like you tend to get sucked up into buying books mentioned on NPR.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 19:04:44

      Absolutely–when KUHF went to 24/7 news and information a few months ago, I was doomed. Those author interviews make the strangest subjects (the history of Prohibiton? the last days of the Comanche?) sound fascinating. I have all sorts of NPR buys on the shelf now, several from the Borders close-out, a few from Half Price Books. And sooner or later I’ll read them.

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  6. apronheadlilly
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 23:52:07

    Like Van Gogh I’ve had various artistic periods–my crochet and kniting period, my quilt period, my cross stitch and needlepoint period, my ceramic period. But books are forever! When the Fahrenheit 451 guys come, I’ll be burying them in the back yard in Ziplocs!

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