Thursday, August 7, 2008

Frugal? Or Cheap?

I rarely buy books. And I'm sure it's killing my publishing karma.

I come from good, frugal German stock. Which is another way of saying "cheap" in polite company. I love thrift stores. The only time the toddler gets new clothes is when doting grandmothers buy them for him. And being that my own weight tends to fluctuate so widely, I rarely see the point of buying something expensive if I'm going to gain or lose enough to render it useless by the next season. Plus, I'm a klutz at heart - a problem exacerbated by raising a son - how many tops have been tossed with stains in the last three years? Therefore, I have a cheap disposable wardrobe. (Aside: This drives my hubby nuts. Absolutely nuts. But then, he's been within five pounds of the same weight for about 15 or 20 years now.)

This carries over to books. I have a perfectly good library I support with my taxes - why should I spend money on books when the library has more than I'll ever need? And children's books? Oh, have you seen the barely touched books at yard sales? Given that the toddler invariably destroys them by reading them while playing trucks in the mud (yes, a bookworm in the making, but still a boy), what's the point of plunking down hard-earned money? As Jack Johnson sings, "Reduce, reuse, recycle."

But now, in this new incarnation, I'm at a moral crisis. Why would anyone open their wallets for my books (when they get here, God willing) if I won't do the same? My mother-in-law (lovely woman) will walk into Sam's Club and walk out with three or four books that sounded good to her, just because she was there (yes, the ideal buyer). I had to suck it up to buy Saadia Ali Aschermann's lavish Lines/luscious Lines, even thought I a) love Saadia and b) love her poetry!

So I'm trying to look at this from my hubby's point of view. Buying books is like buying well made clothing. It's an investment - whether you look at it as a karmic investment or from his accounting point of view. If it's something - the next book from Rebecca M. Hale or a really great pair of shoes THAT FITS - that I will read or use over and over, then the cost is amortized (hope I got that right) and it winds up evening out in the long run. (At least, this is how the hubby justifies his extravagances - although he still hasn't talked me into that new TV yet . . . .)

So I'm trying a compromise. I'll probably break down and buy How to Knit a Wild Bikini from Christine Ridgway because I've really enjoyed her chick lit romances (even though everyone who knows me finds that hard to believe). And I'll get Saadia's and Rebecca's next books when they come out (in Sept. and next year, respectively). I like these authors. I like their writing. It's not bad to spend a little money on stuff I like.

For other books - that Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer - I know that I'm never going to read it again. I want to know what happens, but not enough to justify buying all four books. So I requested it at the library. The end result is that an author still sells a book, and potentially builds a bigger reading audience. This works for things I'm just checking out - Blythe Gifford's historicals are on my request list as well. I don't know if I want to own them, but I do want to read them.

And that's all I can ask of other people. Buy it if you like it. Request it at the library if you aren't sure. And tell your friends what you think.


lucylucia said...

Girl, I buy all of my books. I like to look them over and re-read thEM all the time. Here's my compromise though, I can't really afford the new hardbacks or paperbacks, for that matter - so I buy everything used off of amazon. EVERYTHING. That means .99 plus $4 for shipping - and I have ordered $45 hardbacks for $5! The trick is that you have to wait at least a year for them to land in the used books stores, though. Sometimes I hate to wait.

Caley Greene said...

I'm a bona fide bookaholic. I love books! But, I'm also picky about my books, so I almost always buy new. I'll buy used for classics that are hardcover, because they're in the public domain now anyway. I'll borrow books from the library that are on tape (sometimes that is the only way I'll be able to read it for one reason or another) and reference books or cookbooks, because I want to make sure they have the information I need before I buy them. I will check out a book by an author I haven't read before to see if I like it enough to buy. But really, there are more books than just about anything else in my house. Less than 700 square feet to my apartment and probably a 1000 books (I have about 30 movies - I'll rent those before buying - LOL)