Borrow From The Library Or Buy? How Do You Decide?

Earlier today we made another trip to the library to browse around and perhaps pick up a few books.  I didn’t come away with anything today; however someone else did.  It got me to thinking about how people, or in particular myself, goes about choosing which books to borrow from the library or purchase for my collection.

This topic also comes up because we are thinking about going through our bookcase again this spring to donate books to the library that we may not be interested in reading again.  Of course, I’m not willing to part with my trusted companions, but I suppose something can be said about not holding onto books that you’re not going to read again.  That brought up the discussion again about e-readers, in particular Amazon’s Kindle.  You can read my post about Kindles here.

I managed to find, during my trip to the library Superfreaknomics, and another book on my 2011 Goals list, Atlas Shrugged.  After taking a brief look at Atlas Shrugged, and seeing how long it was, I pretty much decided that’s probably one I should purchase for my collection.  Why do you say?  Because of the length of time that it most likely would take me to read it.  That’s exactly the approach I’ve taken with other books that I have, such as Marx’s Capital, I own all three volumes because it would take me much longer to read them than the normal borrowing period at the library.  Other books that I’ve bought because of the time commitment required, Shelby Foote’s A Civil War Narrative, and William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Another criteria I use in deciding whether to borrow or buy is if I think I might read the book again.  Perfect examples of books that would fall into this category are political books, such as President Bush’s Decision Points, and President Obama’s The Audacity of Hope.  Other examples would be Tom Clancy books, and some selected other authors, such as Patrick O’Brian, and Clive Cussler.  These authors aren’t necessarily books I would read again and would take up valuable space on my bookshelf.

Once we get Kindles in our family, I foresee some of my cons disappearing since we won’t have as many space considerations.  That’s the final criteria about deciding whether to borrow or buy.  Even though we’ve been our home for almost a year now, and have more space, we don’t have rooms that we can devote to storing books, sometimes, much to my chagrin.

Essentially, I should try to borrow more books from the library, but I do enjoy have a large library at home, and that will be one habit that will take a long time to break me out of.  Our eventual purchases of Kindles will probably alleviate some of those issues.  How do you go about choosing to borrow books from the library or to purchase them?


About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

8 Responses to “Borrow From The Library Or Buy? How Do You Decide?”

  1. I would recommend purchasing Atlas Shrugged. You can probably find very reasonably priced versions in hardback or paperback. I actually own 2 copies–one in each format. After reading the paperback version I decided it was a book I wanted to own in hardback.

    Tossing It Out

    • I haven’t quite made the final decision yet. I most likely will purchase it. I made that same mistake when I read The Fountainhead and a part of me wishes I had it in my collection so I can easily read it again. I didn’t think I’d enjoy reading Ayn Rand, and am expecting another great story in Atlas Shrugged.

  2. I like to buy books because I write in them (like a journal.)

    Space? 😆

    • There are times where I enjoy writing in my books too. I’ve done that with David Harvey’s A Companion to Marx’s Capital.

      Yeah, I know, that silly thing called space. For me it’s not as much of a concern as it is for someone else in my house. 😀

  3. One word: Money.

    Or maybe three words: Lack of money.

    Which is why I borrow from the library a lot (plus I work there and it’s good to support the place you work 🙂 ).

    That said, I also do read books already owned on our bookshelves. For example, right now, I’m reading the Harry Potter series, which my wife bought as soon as each of them came out.

    • Yeah, money can definitely be an issue. I have noticed that our family’s book reading habit has increased in cost in the last couple of years. We try to budget for it, but sometimes it’s difficult. 🙂

      You make a very valid point to support the place you work. Another reason to support our library, especially here in Fairfax County, VA, is that our tax dollars go to it, and they keep on decreasing the operating hours. Now, you can only get to the library after work on Tuesdays. Every other day of the week they close either at 5 or 6, well past the time my wife and I get home from work. Maybe if there were more foot traffic, the longer they would stay open? 😀

      Harry Potter is definitely a good set of books to own. My wife also re-reads a lot of books that are already on our bookshelf.

  4. I buy. Reading is my primary form of entertainment. I don’t watch a lot of tv (2 shows). I rarely go out for movies or dinner, so books is my one luxury.

    • I can definitely understand that. My wife and I don’t go out too much for movies or dinner, and save a lot of that discretionary income for other forms of entertainment, such as parks and such. Books are definitely a wonderful pleasure to go on a spending spree on. 🙂

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