This is a question I have been debating for a while. We all hear about the decline in the bookshop and how we should avoid supermarkets and big sites like Amazon, in favour of local independent bookshops. Of course, I am all for this. Bookshops are a place of wonder and magic; a place to spend hours just browsing among other book lovers. There’s also nothing like discovering new books you would never have found on Amazon, without hours of scrolling through pages.
The main problem I find with independent bookshops, as is the main issue with most people, is the price. It is so tempting to simply order them online when there is an abundance of 3 for £10 offers flying about. Consider that in comparison to the average paperback in a bookshop costing around £7.99. Unfortunately for me, my reading habit is too large for me to afford spending that sort of money on each book I read. I am also the sort of person who likes to own a physical, personal copy of a book. I don’t really like borrowing from friends, or lending my own out. Maybe that’s a selfish attitude, but I get very attached, particularly to favourite books.
I have read 17 books so far this year. Had I paid bookshop prices for all of these, I would have spent £135.83. Add to that the possible 15-20 more books I will read this year and the cost is starting to get out of hand for someone in a fairly low paid job.
In actual fact, of those 17 books, five were borrowed from friends, six purchased from Amazon, two received as gifts, one purchased from Waterstones and three won on Goodreads Giveaways. So I’m exaggerating. I only actually spent money on seven of them, although one book in my ‘To-Read’ pile by my bed is from Amazon, with several others being from Waterstones.
One thing I have been trying to do recently is buy all books that aren’t part of the 3 for £10 Amazon offer, from a bookshop. I like to use Waterstones, as there aren’t any independent bookshops near to where I live, which is a shame. Using their ‘buy one get one half price’ offer, books can end up only costing around £6 each, which is still possibly too much for me to spend on every book I buy, but for now it will have to do. Some books are also cheaper in Waterstones; mainly ones that aren’t in the charts or being mass produced. I often see books for £10-£11 for a paperback on Amazon, but only the standard £7.99 from bookshops. It’s always best to check you’re getting it from the cheapest price, especially if you can support a bookshop in the process.
I also love spending time just browsing in bookshops, and always try to purchase something while I’m there (although I often have to talk myself out of it, again for financial reasons). I went into Waterstones recently and ‘accidentally’ managed to buy three books, costing me a total of around £15. One was half price, and the other two were on the ‘buy one get one half price’ offer. I suppose I can’t really complain about £5 per book, and I didn’t think twice about paying for them. One of the reasons I bought the books that I did, was through the recommendation of the lovely shop assistant, who took the time to chat to me about the sort of books I like, and then recommended ones he had read himself with enthusiasm. Now, I know he was only doing his job, and he may have been exaggerating slightly for the sale, but this is just something you don’t get if you buy online. I was happy to have the chance to chat with a fellow book lover. I would honestly love to work in a bookshop, if only it paid better!
It also depends on what kind of books you like to read. I only ever read fiction, but for those who enjoy non-fiction books, it is, more often than not, much cheaper to buy on Amazon. Non-fiction coffee table type books can be over half price when bought online, something hard to ignore when they are often £20+. I faced this issue while at university. I needed to buy lots of books for my assignments, and most likely saved hundreds by buying used copies from Amazon.
Overall, I think I am doing what is best for me. I try my best to buy from bookshops when and where I can, but do often have to succumb to Amazon, where things can be considerably cheaper.
Where do you buy your books?