How I Use the Library to Buy Smarter

In the last 12 months I have become a much more regular library user than I have been in the past. It’s been some combination of getting really into this book blog, reading more, and *finally* running out of unread books on my bookshelf.

I find a lot of book bloggers (and especially bookstagrammers) are surprised when they find out that I get most of my books from the library these days. Library books look a lot less gorgeous on your bookstagram (stupid plastic covers…), and they offer very little re-read value. Not to mention I can’t snap any more pictures of them in a themed post for my bookstagram after I give them back.

Mostly, I think, people are surprised because book bloggers buy A LOT of books. Hardly a week goes by where I don’t hear about somebody who accidentally cheated on their book buying ban.

But guys, here’s the thing. I do still buy plenty of books! I’m just using the library to help me buy smarter.

Let me explain.

Instead of going out and buying all of the new books on my tbr that I’m anxious to read, I order them from the library. This takes a little pre-planning on my part since my home town library is pretty small, so I have to do an inter-library loan on most of the books I read. I’ve taken to planning my tbr 5-10 books in advance, so the book has plenty of time to make it’s way to me. Then, if I like the book, I add it to my buy list. I hand out my wish list around my birthday and the holidays, and I also buy myself a book or two every month that I read and loved.

The thing I love most about this strategy is it means I’m only buying books I love. I don’t have to sell things back to Half-Price when I’m done, find space on my shelf for a book I’m only so-so about (or worse, didn’t like, *gasp*), or try pawn it off on someone else who I do think will like it.

I’ve also saved a lot of money. There have been several books that I was sooooo anxious to read, but didn’t work out for me as well as I’d hoped. I just saved myself $28.99!

Don’t get me wrong, I do pre-order books I’m really excited about still. Children of Virtue and Vengeance? CHECK! The Starless Sea? Well… I tried, but I gotta wait a couple more months, lol. My most recent B&N visit I purchased The Kingdom of Copper and Carry On because I’m pretty sure I’m going to love them, and they’re so preetttyyy. So never you worry, I’m still out there supporting my favorite authors and making sure they get to keep writing.

But The Gilded Wolves fell flat for me, and I’m glad I don’t have it taking up space on my very crowded YA shelf. When You Read This was great and all, but I didn’t love it. I’m never going to re-read it, so I don’t need a copy.

I can hear the bookstagrammers now. “But like, doesn’t looking at the books you read give you such happy memories? Don’t you want them for keepsakes and memories?” Nah, not really. I took pictures of them, so most of them are on my Instagram feed, and I look at that embarrassingly frequently to remind myself what I’ve read in the past few years.

Instead when I look at my bookshelf, every. single. book. makes me think “Wow, I loved that book, it was so amazing!” And to me, that’s worth more than having all the books in the world. (Which, incidentally, I have THAT too. At the library. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?”

36 thoughts on “How I Use the Library to Buy Smarter

  1. I’ve recently started using the library more (because like you, I ran out of books!) and I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it! There’s an aspect to reading it then putting it back that I find so rewarding, knowing that several other people have read that copy and enjoyed those words! Now and again, I will buy because there is some books that I want to own (starless sea, I am waiting for you😂) but overall I’m pretty satisfied with reading books from the library, it’s free, it’s helping the planet, and it’s a nice place to go and get out!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a great point about it helping the planet! Less book trash when we get old and die, and our kids decide they don’t want our book hoard, lol. Though with how frequently I’m having books shipped around the metroplex I’m not sure how small my PERSONAL carbon footprint has been, hahaha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good plan!! I use the library shamefully little, but I really should do more: it’s such a good resource, and I definitely agree that the disappointment of buying a book you actually end up not liking can be huge!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m similar to you in my buying habits because of how I use the library. I’ve become a lot smarter about buying books, and I’ve become so picky about what I read now too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know that book blogging has made me more picky, but I DO think I’ve gotten better at recognizing which books I’m going to like and which I won’t. Though my record so far for 2019 would indicate otherwise…


  4. I’m the same way! Going to the library has been a staple of my adolescence. I only ever buy books I’ve already read and love, are part of a series I have, or I’m very confident I’ll enjoy. I’ve only started buying books I’ve never ever read in the past year, and thankfully I’ve enjoyed them all. I’ll never understand where people get money to buy so many books! XD

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I use a combination of book blogs and the library to decide what books to read and buy. If a book doesn’t get at least 4 stars from reviewers I trust, I won’t even touch it. If it looks interesting, I’ll get the book from my library. If I like it, I might eventually buy it for someone as a gift. If I love it, I might even buy it for myself! This method works really well for me and ensures that I don’t waste limited time, money, and space reading, buying, and storing books that aren’t my favorites. Good on you for using the library! Hopefully your example will inspire other bloggers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also use fellow bloggers to decide what to read. I’m not so strict with a particular rating, often other bloggers don’t like things that I do. But I’ve started reading stuff because others have encouraged me to do so, and they’re often so, so right.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m the same way! I hate that feeling of paying for books and not enjoying them as much as I thought I would. I also don’t have room in my budget to pay for books right now. I did splurge a little bit for Kindle Unlimited so I could support Indie authors and try new ones with out the huge monetary amount. It also helps with my mood reading since I can pick out what ever I want from the ku library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did a free trial of Kindle Unlimited once and was so disappointed that literally NONE of the books on my tbr were available. I know there’s a lot, but I’ve got enough on my tbr already without adding more, lol.


  7. This is a great post! I wish I could rely on my library for things like this! My local library is very badly-equipped (it relies on donations so it hardly has recent books and they can’t attend to every request) and my college library mostly has academic books (and even so, it lacks a lot on the assigned literature department). ):

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet you would be surprised by how much literature is at your college library (I sure was!) but if you’re mainly reading YA then, yeah. And I feel you, my local library is pretty tiny. One of the things I discovered nearly on accident was that I was able to use my library card at a nearby city library with a much bigger selection. Possibly your university ID would give you access to a Public Library in your college town.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. my college library is probably the biggest in my city and has thousands of books, but yeah, it’s definitely lacking on the ya department. unfortunately, i have to create different cards for different libraries. that’s not exactly a problem, but libraries in portugal, generally, lack a lot on recent books …

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I used to use the library a lot, but the frequency of visits has decreased greatly in the past few years. Part of that is honestly because I have applied and interviewed for jobs there a dozen times and been told no each time. It’s stupid and petty, I know that, but it bothers me. This is the library I grew up using, that I volunteered at for several years, and they keep hiring people without library degrees from outside the community, when I am of the community and have a library science degree. I think supporting libraries is great, and more people should do it, but I’m still just a bit frustrated with my library.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I need to get back in the habit in all honesty. I was spoiled where I used to live- they pretty much had anything including new releases. I got frustrated when I moved with the much smaller library (and generally unfriendly staff) but that was a while ago and you are right- it’s such a better system than just buying everything!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is harder with a smaller library. I’m very lucky that even though MY library is small, they have teamed up with a lot of other local libraries, including one that is, dare I say, LARGE.


  10. Hi, I totally agree with you about the wisdom of using the library. I check out lots of books and the ones I can’t part with are the ones I buy. Saves lots of money. I also work in a library so can’t help but love it for the atmosphere, the camaraderie of all the book lovers comparing notes, and as you mentioned, the ILL program. Great service that.

    Liked by 1 person

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