Lately, I’ve seen a few tweets and comments from others criticising booktubers and bookstagrammers for being too consumerist and buying way too many books and bookish merchandise. Large book hauls and the towering TBR are not new concepts in the book community – however, many within the book community may feel the pressure to constantly buy new releases and to buy all the latest bookish merch simply to “fit in with the crowd” or feel like they’re qualified to be a relevant youtuber or instagrammer.
While I can totally understand feeling that pressure, here’s my response to some of the comments I’ve received about book hoarding:
1. “Wow, you have so many books!”
Yes, I do have a lot of books – after all, it comes with being a passionate bookworm for most of my life! I’ve definitely bought a lot more after becoming a book blogger, mainly because I see so many amazing book recommendations from everyone and I want to buy the latest releases – not only to support my favourite authors, but also so I can help promote the latest releases that other readers can find at their bookstore right now.
2. “Do you read all of them?”
Are you kidding me? I have over 1000 books on my shelves, so unless time stops, someone does all my chores and babysitting for me and I get paid to sit around and read all day, of course I haven’t read all of them.
2. “Why do you buy more books when you haven’t read the ones on your shelves?”
As someone who is a massive mood reader, sometimes I just don’t feel like picking up some of the books on my shelves, or I want to buy a sequel to a series that has just come out. This is like people who buy new clothes when they haven’t worn all of the ones in their closet. It’s for variety, and because you simply don’t feel like reading the ones that you bought at that time. Also as a book blogger, I also get enjoyment out of books that I haven’t read already by talking about them, photographing them, and decorating my shelves, so they serve a multiple purpose.
3. “Why do you buy multiple editions of books that you have already?”
This is because I like collecting multiple editions of my favourite books. If I receive an ARC from a publisher (pre-printed early release edition that isn’t the final copy), and I enjoy the book, I will purchase the book to support the author. With the Six of Crows or Illuminae series which is my favourite, I also collect the hardback and paperback editions because they look different – one to keep pristine on my shelves, and the other to read and thrash about so it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. I’m a book collector. It’s a thing.
4. “How do you afford to buy so many books?”
I actually don’t buy every single book on my shelf – I receive a lot of free books and ARCs from publishers for review and promotion. I would probably have a lot less books if I didn’t receive them from publishers – which is very much appreciated (and a great perk for all the free promotion and reviews that I provide as a book blogger)!
5. “Why would you spend so much on books?”
I actually go some months without spending any money on books at all, because 1) I already have so many books to read, and 2) I get so many for free from publishers. Also “so much on books” is subjective, everyone has a different income and way of spending their money. This question kind of implies that there are other “free” methods of obtaining books that you read and that authors don’t deserve to be paid for their work – in an already underpaid profession.
Why you shouldn’t judge others for buying books
In an already difficult year due to COVID19 and people having to isolate, having a new parcel that you’ve ordered online is sometimes the only thing to look forward to. You’re also supporting small businesses and someone else’s passion – I would much rather have my money go to an independent designer or local business whose livelihood depends on it than a large mass market company that wouldn’t know the difference.
If I have the disposable income and the means to purchase books or whatever makes me happy, then why not? Some people spend their money on designer goods, rare plants and fancy dog collars. I spend my money on books, I don’t see the difference.
After all, it isn’t really harming anyone and that money goes to supporting authors in writing more books, and the publishing industry as a whole.
If I lose interest in books on my shelves and they no longer give me joy – I either donate them to a local school, library or charity shop, gift them to friends, do giveaways, or sell them secondhand (check out the #LoveOzYA Buy Swap Sell Group for Aussies – that I run on Facebook)
When you shouldn’t buy books
Consumerism is only problematic if you’re literally foregoing your basic needs and racking up lots of debt in order to keep up with the latest releases. And I’m sorry to break it to you – whether it’s books, book merchandise, or something else – there’s always going to be something to fill that void, if that’s the way you spend your money.
Please don’t forego buying food, essentials, groceries, paying bills, or taking your pet to the vet to buy books instead.
How do I keep up with this community if I don’t have a lot of money to spend on books?
As for ways that you can be part of the book community without money to spend – there are a variety of ways that you can obtain books to read – whether it’s borrowing from the library (if there are libraries in your country – also some libraries do eBooks only), purchasing eBooks which are normally cheaper, borrowing from your friends, going to a local charity/second hand shop where there are books, entering giveaways, applying for ARCs through Netgalley, Edelweiss etc. And those are only some suggestions off the top of my head.
No one is going to judge you for where and how you read those books – and if they are, then they’re not worth listening to (sorry mum) – because the book blogging community is about connecting with other readers. If it becomes more about how many books you get and a race to get the latest releases, then I think we’ve lost sight of what the community really is for – sharing your love of reading and books, no matter when, how and what you read. After all, if we all purchased the same books, had the same thoughts on them, and didn’t have different opinions, preferences and reading habits – that would make for a very boring community.
Read what you love – whatever, however and whenever you do it. And let’s focus more on recommending books rather than judging others for what they do.
Have you been judged about your book buying habits? Do you feel the pressure to constantly purchase new books?
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