The Rest

Feeding my book addiction

April 25, 2006

In reviewing my Quicken spending comparison report last night (I have a Quicken report addiction too) I see that we are making progress in our year to date spending. One category that stood out to me was the “Books and Music” category. We’re down $158 (54%) over the same period last year.

There are two things that help me fight to keep this category managable:

1. Requesting Barnes and Noble or Borders gift cards when my family asks what I want for my birthday/Christmas.

2. Using my public library’s hold feature.

Number 1 is pretty self explanatory. Here’s how I use #2. In the past when I saw a book in the newspaper or on TV that sounded interesting I would head to to check it out and then hit the “add to shopping cart” button if I decided I wanted to read it. Now I still head to Amazon, but instead of buying the book there if I want to read it I head to my local library’s website and do a search. If they have the book or it is on order, I place a hold using my library card number and request that it be sent to my closest branch when it’s available.

Last night’s case in point: I saw the tail end of an interview with Caitlin Flanagan on Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show. Caitlin, a columnist for New Yorker Magazine, has a new book out, To Hell With All That, Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife. It sounded interesting to me so this morning I checked out my library’s website and discovered that the book is on order (it’s brand new) and that I’m number 14 in line for it when it comes in. I can live with that.

A quick check of my previous hold requests tell me that I’m next in line for Confessions of a Slacker Mom, 2nd in line for The Tipping Point, and 22nd in line for Live Your Life for Half the Price. Cool. It sometimes takes a while for books to become available, but while I wait I get emails that other books I previously requested are available for pickup. This system ensures that I almost always have something interesting to read.

Of course if it’s something that I just can’t wait to read or that I’m sure I want to own, I’ll use my gift certificates or order it off Amazon. But that rarely happens anymore. The result is that my spending in this category is down, I have less book clutter at my house, and the books that I do own are ones that I really, really love. Win/win/win.

  1. I used the hold service at the public library all the time when I was just out of college. I don’t use it as much now, mostly because it’s clunkier at our public library here. Also, you can’t order something if the system says it’s available at your local branch, but I often can’t find things in my local branch.

    Yes, even librarians have a hard time tracking things down in libraries.

  2. I have had a library card for at least 50 years. I read every night for at least an hour. Over the years I have checked out books, CDs, DVDs, toys, games, artwork, maagazines; exchanged coupons, plants for plants; attended numerous lectures; participated in arts & crafts lessons; the kids have done summer reading programs, seen a clown put on make-up. We have ‘checked out’ a discount ticket to local aquariums, museums, etc. These were from libraries in towns ranging from a population of 12,000 to 150,000 and even one at a tiny military base in Sicily. Libraries are for us to use – usually some of our tax dollars pay for them. A truly frugal person will never pass up an opportunity to use the library system. I’ve even been able to request & receive books (that for the most part are considered out of print) on living frugally that were written in the 60’s & 70’s. Truly one of the gems of our world.

  3. Have you tried Paperbackswap? You post the books you want to exchange and request books you want. All you pay is the postage. I’ve gotten some GREAT books–mostly older ones, but also some fairly new ones, including a couple that were in my Amazon wish list at the time!

    My library system has started charging for the hold service if the book comes from another branch, so we don’t use it anymore.

  4. I just moved to a new town where they *charge* to place holds! It’s only .25 cents, but I used to keep hundreds of books on hold at once, so to go down to nearly nothing is quite a change for me.

    I still love the library. I spend hours there.

  5. Wow! I didn’t know that there were libraries that charged for holds. I guess I should consider myself very lucky.

    Like bellen, I love all the library services you can take advantage of.

    And thanks for the link, Vintage Reader. I’ll have to check that out.

  6. One other frugal way to get books is through your library’s used book sale — you get some great books very inexpensively and you’re helping to support your library.

  7. I am a fan of the public library’s. I have used the hold feature many times.I buy books at the used book sale’s all the time.
    I have heard about paper back swap, but have not tried it.
    I am a Amazon fan, I have my collection of books on my kindle:)

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