A friend asked me a question not too long ago…
“How do you afford all the books you read?”
The short answer is: I prioritize them in my budget.
Meaning: I buy the books I want to buy regardless of their price.
And I don’t feel bad about that. Here is why:
(Caveat: this post applies to me. I am not saying everyone should spend all the money they have on books or trying to lecture anyone on book-buying habits; I’m simply explaining my own.)
1. I work hard and live below my means I am not a starving artist. I’ve toyed with the idea of quitting my day job to focus on writing, but there are advantages and disadvantages to that (which I’ll get into in a separate post). But right now, I work hard, put in long hours, and I make some decent money at that. I’ve also always lived below my means in terms of rent and lifestyle, so I have disposable income. So if I want to spend that income on things that make me happy (and sane!), I don’t feel guilty for doing so.
2. I want to support publishing The publishing industry is tough, or so I’ve heard. With e-books and the influx of self-publishing, it’s harder than ever for writers to get their work out there and make money off of it. When I buy new hardcover books, instead of waiting for the paperback or for it to hit the library (both of which are valid options if that’s what works for you!) I don’t feel like I’m “wasting my money”, as some (ahem, Mom) have hinted I’m doing.
3. I like physical books Am I the last person on earth not to have an e-reader? Maybe. But I love physical books. I love carrying them around, I love displaying them on my shelves, I love holding them in my hands. I spend all day in front of a computer or phone; my book time is hold-thing-in-hands-non-screen time. I don’t mind spending more on those books, and I don’t mind the space they take up in my apartment. (I only keep the books I liked or learned something from; the rest are donated to my building’s little lending library.)
4. I don’t have the time (or patience) for the library My local library is about a fifteen minute walk from my apartment. Which isn’t that far, but to get and return books, that’s a half hour out of my day, which during the week I rarely have, and on the weekends, could be spent doing other things (writing, cleaning, exercising). It is faster and easier for me to go online and order the books I want. (Though I will sometimes patronize my aforementioned building lending library; that’s where I found this book, actually.) Also, when I really want to read something, I want to read it now, not wait for months for it.
5. I don’t spend money on a lot of other things for myself I buy new clothes only when I need them. I rarely buy new shoes or bags. I don’t spend a lot on my hair, I don’t pay for a gym, we don’t have cable. Books are actually pretty cheap when compared with all of those things–even a $20 hardcover debut.
If you go to the library, if you buy e-books–that is all fine! (Except if you download them illegally–that is not fine!) Let me know what works for you!
Image of my own apartment (just kidding!) Image actually from here