Sometimes when I go into a bookstore, I'm looking for a particular book. When I decided I had to read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, I went to the store, bought it, and didn't look twice at anything else. The same goes for going to an author event or book release that I'm really excited for. I save up for the books I want signed and buy them new at the event.
But most of the time, I buy books by browsing. I walk up and down my favorite aisles (young adult, classics, and bargain books) looking for something that stands out to me. Like 90% of people in the world, I do not have the money to support my book-buying habit to the extent that I wish I could, so I find most of my books on the clearance shelves or in used bookstores. But two $4 books would equal one new YA paperback, so when I want so many books, how do I choose?
I started thinking about this on a recent visit to Nashville. Like most times when I'm in Music City, I gave in to my bookish habit by visiting the large used bookstore there (McKay's). Because I can't spend whatever I want, I always go in with the same plan: Put all the books I would like to buy in the cart and then whittle the stack down to a reasonable amount that I can afford.
But this time, on the drive home, I started contemplating my whittling method. Why did I choose to buy certain books and not others? I put them in my cart because I wanted them, so how and why did some books get bought and the others put back?
The following list if from that recent trip and are all the YA novels I originally placed in my cart. Prices are estimated due to my potentially faulty memory. The format initials are PB for paperback and HC for hardcover, and the titles link to Goodreads.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets/J.K. Rowling/PB/$2.50Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban/J.K. Rowling/PB/$4.50Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince/J.K. Rowling/PB/$5.00Quicksilver/R.J. Anderson/HC/$8.00Rebel Angels/Libba Bray/PB/$2.50The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality/Elizabeth Eulberg/HC/$6.00This is Not a Test/Courtney Summers/PB/$5.00Golden/Jessi Kirby/HC/$6.00The Originals/Cat Patrick/HC/$10When Lightening Strikes/Meg Cabot/PB/$1.50Code Name Cassandra/Meg Cabot/PB/$1.50The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle/Avi/HC/$2.00Big Fat Manifesto/Susan Vaught/HC/$5.00Counting Backwards/Laura Lascarso/HC/$5.00Secrets of My Hollywood Life/Jen Calonita/PB/$0.10On Location/Jen Calonita/PB/$0.10
This list is the result of scouring the YA shelves and deciding what I should consider to buy. There were several other books that I would have liked to put in my cart, but decided, in much the same way I decided what books to buy, that they should be excluded from the beginning.
So how and why did I pick my purchases?
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (HP #2) - PB/$2.50
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (HP #3) - PB/$4.50
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP #6) - PB/$5.00
I own books 1, 5, and 7 in the Harry Potter series. I have read them all and love them all, but on this particular day my budget was fairly tight, so I decided that these books, due to popularity and supply, would be readily available in the future.
Quicksilver (Ultraviolet #2) - HC/$8.00
I adored Ultraviolet, so when I saw the shiny sequel, I wanted it badly. However, I haven't read it, and considering the condition it was in (good but not as good as I like), the price wasn't worth it that day.
Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) - PB/$2.50
I love the Gemma Doyle series and this book was in really good condition. I am also going to be seeing Libba Bray in November, so I needed/wanted this book to be able to get it signed. So for that price, I couldn't pass it up.
The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality - HC/$6.00
I own two other books by Eulberg, but I haven't read any of them yet. This book was hyped a lot before it came out, but after reading a little bit at the store, I decided that while I still wanted to read the book, I could wait for a better budget or lower price.
This is Not a Test - PB/$5.00
I finished this book last month and enjoyed it, and the condition of this copy was good.. However, it wasn't a book I fell in love with, meaning I didn't feel the overwhelming need to own it.
Golden - HC/$6.00
This was another hyped book I really want to read, but like the Eulberg book, I decided I could wait.
The Originals - HC/$10
I knew when I put this book in my cart, despite loving the author, that I probably wouldn't buy it. Had I had more money to spend or were interested in fewer books this trip, I might have still gotten it, but it just didn't work out this time.
When Lightening Strikes (1-800-Where-R-You #1) - PB/$1.50
Code Name Cassandra (1-800-Where-R-You #2) - PB/$1.50
I picked these books up because they are by Meg Cabot. The price and condition were good, but not knowing much about the books and having so many others to decide on, I passed.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - HC/$2.00
I loved, loved this book when I was in middle school. There were cheaper paperback copies available at the store, but this particular hardcover didn't have a dust jacket because the cover was printed right on the cardboard. It was in decent condition and the price was good, especially for this particular format.
Big Fat Manifesto - HC/$5.00
I've seen several good things about this book, and when I read a little bit of it, the narrative hooked me right away. That plus the good condition and price made it a keeper.
Counting Backwards - HC/$5.00
I read this book through an ARC tour and loved it and I'd been wanting a copy for ages. I found this pristine edition for five bucks and could not pass it up.
Secrets of My Hollywood Life (Secrets of My Hollywood Life #1) - PB/$0.10
On Location (Secrets of My Hollywood Life #2) - PB/$0.10
I loved Jen Calonita's Belles series and I'd been looking for this series for a while and never could find the first book. I came across these two for a crazy-low price and in decent condition, so I knew I'd be getting them no matter what.
Based on this rundown, I've come to realize I follow some personal guidelines when buying books. First, condition is important to me. I'm picky and prefer good or better, and the price needs to reflect the condition if the condition is less than ideal. Second, books that have some emotional/intellectual value to me are more likely to be purchased over books I've not read. And last, my budget and the amount of books I'm interested in can play a big role in which books I buy.
How and why do you buy the books you buy?
Do you have a plan when walking into a bookstore or are you more of a browser?
Do you have personal guidelines you follow?
Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!