On Consumerism in the Book Community & My 2019 Buying Ban | Discussion

Hi readers! Over the years in the book community, I’ve seen a few discussions around consumerism in the book community, thoughts on book hauls and how some people feel pressured to buy/own a lot of books. This blog post will be all about my own experiences with these things & why this has influenced me to put a restriction on my book buying in 2019.


My Book Buying Habits

I have been a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. When I was in primary school I used to borrow books from my school library every couple of weeks. As far as I remember I never borrowed more than I would actually read. Once I hit high school and was in year 7 and 8, I was still reading a large amount of books from my school library and also some YA off my mum’s shelves at home. It was in the last year or so of primary school and my first couple years of high school where I began to start my own book collection. Sometimes at school I would read the first book in a series and they wouldn’t have the rest of the series available, so my mum sometimes went and bought the series for me to binge read. We used to go to scholastic book fairs and fill up a box with books that mostly went unread in the following months. Since having my own collection of books, ever since I was 12ish, I’ve always owned more books than I’ve been able to read.

Fast forward to the age of 15 where I got my first job. Almost immediately after I started to make my own money, I would spend that money on books. I hadn’t really discovered online book shopping, so I would buy my books from Kmart, Dymocks or my local indie. I went for familiar authors or genres I was currently obsessed with. At the end of 2014, when I was 16, I decided to make my first ever bookstagram account. I had never been exposed to blogging or book twitter or booktube, but I had followed some book accounts on instagram and decided to make my own.

I fell into a rabbit hole when I joined bookstagram. My eyes were opened to so many books and authors I’d never heard of because my local bookstores didn’t stock them. I discovered ordering books online. For the most part, when I first joined bookstagram, I only ordered books online if they weren’t available at my local store or couldn’t be ordered in (due to release dates, since US/UK/Aus release dates may vary). I wanted to own all the books I saw everyone talking about because I wanted to join in the community, make some friends. I thought the best way to do that was to buy and read all the books everyone else was reading. My book collection grew tremendously between 2015-2017, so much so that I was known by my real life friends as a mini library. I still haven’t read half of the books I owned back then, and have no interest in reading them anymore. I started unhauling books at the end of 2016/start of 2017, and it’s something I would like to regularly do in the coming years. I see no point in a book taking up space on my bookshelves if I’m no longer interested in reading it.

I still have a ridiculous book buying addiction now. My family and friends are always tagging me in funny reading memes on Facebook, making jokes about reading the books I already own before buying new ones. At some point, I want to get to a stage where I have 0 unread books on my shelves and I go and buy books when I’ve finished the ones I own. I know that will definitely not be anytime soon. I saw a tweet yesterday where somebody said they calculated how much money they’d spend on books so far this year, and it was double what they anticipated they’d spent. I calculated my own book buying, and whilst I had spent less than what I thought I had, it was still a ridiculously high amount of money. My physical TBR is over 100 books now, which is more than I read in a year. If I continue the way I’ve been spending this year, I’ll never finish all of my books. Hence why I’ve decided to restrict my book buying.


What Influence Does the Book Community Have on Book Buying Habits?

Honestly, I think the influence the book community has on book buying habits depends on the person. As I mentioned, even before I joined the book community, I owned more books that I hadn’t read than books I had. That just compounded when I joined the book community, because I discovered so many new books and authors that I wanted to read. However, I can understand why people feel pressured to buy a lot of books or have a big collection. I’m going to focus my discussion of this on bookstagram since that’s my OG platform in the community.

The idea of bookstagram is actually very shallow. I’m sorry if that offends anybody, but at the end of the day, we follow people on bookstagram not just to hear their opinions on books (we’d follow reviews if that were the case), but to see pretty photos of books. That’s it. When most of the popular YA bookstagrammers (20k+ followers) are financially secure, middle-aged white women who post huge hauls every month and feature almost exclusively hardcover books in their photos, it creates the sort of baseline for what is expected if you want to gain lots of followers. And if you want to make connections in the community, you have to gain followers. Now, I’m not trying to say that middle-aged white women are out here forcing people to buy lots of books or whatever, but when people see that those who buy more books than they read & only really feature hardcover books are the ones getting lots of followers and opportunities to work with publishers, I can see why people feel pressured.

When I started reading more diversely and started posting more photos of library books, my engagement plummeted. Even though I was taking my photos in the exact same style as when I used to read what everyone else was reading, people weren’t liking/commenting as much because they didn’t know the books and library books aren’t as  “aesthetically pleasing.” It’s not a conscious thing. I don’t think people say to themselves “oh, I’m not going to like this pic because it has a library book in it” but we’ve been conditioned to think that pristine, new hardcover books= the ultimate aesthetic. So whilst I don’t think there’s a conscious effort to exclude people who post pics of their ereaders or library books or lesser known books, there is an unconscious bias against all of those things.

I can’t talk about this topic without bringing up privilege. In my first couple years on bookstagram, there was very little acknowledgement of the privilege surrounding book buying. There’s been more discussion around it now, but it still isn’t talked about a whole lot. At the end of the day, you are privileged if you have the disposable income to be able to buy lots of books every month, to be able to buy pristine hardcovers all the time. This is not meant to offend anyone, it’s just a fact. I know that people who are not privileged in this sense sometimes feel unwelcome or uncomfortable on bookstagram because there is so much of an obsession with book hauls and hardcovers. I’m not saying that if we have the means, we shouldn’t buy lots of books or do what makes us happy, but it’s important for us to be conscious about all of this, especially as adults with a lot of young/teen followers. 


My 2019 Book Buying Restriction

As I mentioned, my physical TBR is now officially over 100 books. I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on books in the last 9 months, and so I’ve decided to restrict my book buying in 2019. I’m going to try out a few different methods to see what works best for me in terms of book buying/restricting myself, and I’ll probably do up a post a few months into 2019 to talk about how it’s going! My ideas are:

  • Read 5, Buy 1: this is pretty self explanatory (lmao). I’ve tried this before and it hasn’t worked too well, but I also need to work on my self control. So.
  • Financial restriction: I haven’t tried this before, but I might try to put $15-20 away each week to buy books only on the first of every month with whatever money I had put away the month before
  • Only buy books I’ve read/loved: this one will rely heavily on my local library. If I want to read a book I do not already own, I have to borrow it from the library. I can only buy physical copies of books that I loved and want on my shelves. (Can buy ebooks if unavailable from library).

I think I’ll try one of each of these for the first three months of 2019 and see which works best. I’m really hoping I can stick to this, and I’m expecting to save a bit of money during this ban.


Discussion

This post ended up a lot lengthier than I was expecting, so if you’ve stuck around to read this post in its entirety, I thank you! This is a really interesting topic, in my opinion, and I’ve found that consumerism and pressure in the book community impacts each individual person in different ways. So, if you’d like to discuss all of this, feel free to leave a comment & answer some of these discussion questions:

  • How do you access most of your books?
  • What has been your experience with consumerism and pressure in the book community?
  • What are your thoughts on book buying bans/restrictions? Have you ever tried one? Do they work for you?
  • Is there anything you feel I’ve missed in my blog post, or haven’t discussed thoroughly?

Thank you all so much for reading and I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion!

– Taryn xxx

15 thoughts on “On Consumerism in the Book Community & My 2019 Buying Ban | Discussion

  1. I love this post!! I’m on an extended book-buying ban myself, and it’s been a curse and a blessing. On one hand it’s hard to find the latest books to read for a while after they come out, but on the other hand, it’s forced me to discover the wonder that is my local library. Being a bookstagrammer/reviewer is a challenge when you simply don’t have the money to buy a lot of books, but it’s definitely still possible!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a thought-provoking post! I myself have always been raised with minimum amount of consumerism – and though owning a book blog and watching loads of book tube really pushed me to buy more books, I still don’t buy that many books. I rarely ever have hauls cause I only buy like one per month or so. Still I have a lot of unread books in my bookshelf, but I think I’m pretty good at it compared to other people 🙂

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  3. This post was really great to read! I felt like you made me realize how much I am glad that I put myself on a buying restriction earlier this year. I get 99% of my books from the library. Lol. I like to try out books before buying and I also feel like there are a lot of books of mainstream and older books are at the library.

    I did feel pressure to buy a lot of books when I was considering booktube last year but then realized that majority of the books that I want to read are at the library anyways. When I see books on bookstagram I have a folder where I will slowly go through the books. I am not good with TBRs because I am an emotional reader which is why I can’t buy books but prefer to check them out from the library.

    If they aren’t at the library I always wait for a sale to buy the books and I put myself on a buying limit. I think book bans are really amazing because you start to reflect on your reading style, don’t over spend and train yourself to only buy what you really are going to read.

    I remember talking to people about how most of us (including myself as of earlier this year but then I sold most of my books to HPB) have a bookshelf full of books that we haven’t even read or might have outgrown. It’s great to review your bookshelf and your spending. I know all of us readers love being surrounded by books but a book restriction can help a lot. Sorry for a long response lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t apologise for a long comment! Agree with everything— especially the last bit. I pretty regularly purge my shelves and definitely have mostly books I don’t own/have outgrown! Also 100% about bans making you reflect on your reading style. I think I’ve been buying so much because I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone but I realise I should’ve been borrowing from the library to get a sense of my reading taste rather than wasting money 😂

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  4. I read most of my books from the library, this year I read 90+ of my 100+ books read thanks to the library! I did set myself a challenge to read as many library books as possible but the bulk of my reading usually comes from their anyway.

    I feel a little pressure but not a whole lot but I think that’s more a personal thing than anything, I just don’t have the funds to buy more books and when i do that’s for myself not really because i feel like I HAVE to. I’m also someone who has never really fallen into peer pressure, I do things if I want to and thats really the only thought that goes into my decisions.

    I mostly adhere to the only buying books I’ve read and loved rule for myself because;
    1. I don’t have much money to spend on books in the first place.
    2. I hate wasting money on a book I don’t love and/or wont read again.
    I make exceptions for books In a series I’ve read the first to and really enjoyed or for my autobuy authors which I dont actually have a whole lot of.
    Usually its not really the rule that keeps me from buying books but more that I just dont have the money to. I have a backlist of fave books I’m still yet to buy for this reason!

    I do still have a lot of books that I own and haven’t read but I think that’s mostly because I still bought books when I could afford to even and then would usually read library books instead because borrowing library books is the one place I have zero self control because they’re all free to read as long as I return them on time and then I have a stack of library books nearly as tall as nephew and of course I HAVE to read them before I return them because what if I can’t get a hold of them again???

    I think this is a very great discussion and I definitely agree with you that bookstagram is a very superficial platform and is one of the reasons why I won’t be investing as much time in it next year (also I just have too many things on my plate and its stressing me out). I’m glad you decided to share your thoughts and I’m wishing you loads of luck with your book buying ban!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The book community I go to is goodreads. I have not tried the others you have mentioned. Like you, I also developed the problem of buying books faster than I was reading them. This happened when I got my first ‘real’ job and I had some disposable income. Like you, I reached the point where I owned books that I was no longer interested in reading. When I changed jobs to a nicer job (but with lower income) and then my hours at work were reduced, I realised I would have to curb my spending on books.

    At first I tried to restrict myself to only buying one book per month but this didn’t work for me. It was probably too ambitious. Now I am tracking the days when I buy a book on the HabitBull app. The aim is too go for as many days as possible without buying a book. (I bought a book on day three! Yikes!)

    If I want to read a book, I have to look for it in my local library’s catalogue first, which I can do easily on my phone while I am in the bookshop. If the book is in the catalogue, then I put a hold on it. Once I have it on hold, I check my position in the queue. If there are only a few people ahead of me in the queue, then I wait for it to be delivered to me at the library. If it is a popular book and I am far, far back in the queue, then I buy the book.

    If the book is not available at the library, then I buy it on my Kindle if it doesn’t have pictures but if the pictures are an important component of the book (such as in a book about gardens), then I buy a physical copy.

    But before I commit to actually buying the book, I ask myself some questions: Will I still want to own this book after I have read it? Do I really want to read it, or is this a book I feel I ‘should’ read but will not, deep down inside, actually enjoy? Is this a book I want to share with other people? (If yes, then I am more likely to buy it.)

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