Changes in Book Buying

As I drift (slowly) toward independent publishing, I’ve been following several discussion loops and reading articles about the rapid changes in the publishing industry. I haven’t given as much thought to the changes in book selling in the last few years, although I did muse about the rapid decline in the number of local bookshops in my area (Where Have All the Bookstores Gone?)—over three years ago (January 28, 2012—goodness, I’ve been sounding off here for while now!)

The other day, though, I made a decision that brought home my own changing book buying habits. I have belonged to three of the Doubleday Book Club divisions for many years. When I joined the Mystery Guild and the Science Fiction Book Club in the early 1970s, I was living in New Iberia, Louisiana, and the nearest bookstore was in Lafayette, about twenty miles to the north. We didn’t have much money, and books were expensive. But the well-made hardbacks from the Doubleday mail order clubs were very reasonable, and I ordered a lot of them. (A good many are still with me.)

I kept right on ordering from them (eventually adding the Rhapsody club for romances) as we moved from Louisiana to Texas (where I had access to more bookstores, but not much more money), and as the book clubs moved from mail order to the Internet. One in a while the opt-out method would fail me, and I’d get a book or two I didn’t order, but that was rare.

Then, over the years, Amazon happened. Ebooks happened. Over the last year, the Doubleday clubs responded with changes. Now, instead of opting out on specific books, one opts out on “member credits,” automatic charges to one’s credit card (no more checks, no more mail orders), good for one book each, with free shipping on orders of two or more. The standard book price has also risen to $13.99 (how old am I? I remember the Doubleday Dollar Book Club, where I was introduced to the novels of Phyllis A. Whitney).

I soon got tired of opting out of those charges (and the idea of supporting their cash flow in advance of ordering books annoyed me). Maybe it was time to abandon my old friends. I looked at my Quicken file and discovered it has been years since I ordered regularly from any of the clubs. Yes, time to cut that cord.

I belong to Amazon Prime, so I never think about shipping charges, and I’ve gotten used to pre-ordering books and having them show up in my mail box on release day (would that I had time to read them that quickly). Amazon and Goodreads are very clever about letting me know when an author I enjoy has a new book out. I buy a lot of ebooks, too, for my Kindle (Doubleday has added ebooks recently, but only through some Android app). And maybe my tastes have changed, and my favorite authors just aren’t showing up in the clubs these days.

So last week I emailed my membership cancellation to Doubleday. Amazon meets my needs, for the most part. And there’s the Book Depository for British editions, and Alibris for out-of-print books (got one from them just last week). But I still felt a bit of a twinge at parting ways with such old friends.

Meanwhile, I still have all those recently culled books sitting in my storage room (it will be a library again some day, I swear, just as soon as I get all those boxes out of there), waiting for a trip to Half Price Books, and I still hit the local Barnes & Noble once a month or so.

Where are you buying books these days?

books

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lark Brennan
    Aug 16, 2015 @ 09:49:10

    Most of my books come from Amazon–prime shipping on print is great and Kindle downloads are instant gratification. Also Murder by the Book which has great signings. Luckily I picked up some terrific books at RWA for free! Just wish I had more space!

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    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 16, 2015 @ 09:57:00

      Lark, I hesitate to go into Murder By the Book (a great Houston independent) for fear of coming out with 27 books when I’m already years behind. I finally cleared out books from RWA that I still hadn’t read–free books are way too tempting. I’ve got the space–I wish I had more time!

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  2. Cheryl Bolen
    Aug 17, 2015 @ 22:49:43

    Raising my hand here. I remember the Dollar Book Club. And I was in the Doubleday book club also for many years. For fiction I now prefer reading either on my Kindle or Nook; I still buy non-fiction in print. But most of my non-fiction I tend to get from Alibris or Abe because I gravitate to out-of-print print books, especially journals or books of letter of dead Englishmen.

    And I confess to being over the moon for Amazon Prime. I’ve become a one-click shopper for everything from special vitamins to ink cartridges.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 19, 2015 @ 10:47:01

      I have trouble reading non-fiction on my KIndle, too, Cheryl, although the Kindle app on my computer works well for flipping through pages. I still read more paper books than ebooks.

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  3. Julie Glover
    Aug 19, 2015 @ 12:21:15

    I still love the feel of an actual book in my hands, but I admit to buying more and more ebooks for my Nook. I’m also an avid library visitor. Love hearing the evolution of your book buying; it’s interesting how we change through the years as the book industry changes.

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    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 19, 2015 @ 12:32:00

      I think my mother took me along to the library when I was still in a stroller, Julie, and I pretty much grew up in them. Pretty much read my way through the library in New Iberia when I lived there. Spent many years doing research in libraries (like the wonderful Rosenberg Library in Galveston), too, but now that I can find anything on Google and order old books on line, I’m afraid I’ve drifted away from library use.

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  4. JF Owen
    Aug 30, 2015 @ 20:46:29

    I feel like something of a traitor, but I’ve switched to ebooks for nearly all of my reading material. I still buy an occasional hardback book by my favorite authors and those I usually get from Amazon or B&N. Times change.

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