Book Ownership Preferences

What are you book-owning habits?

I like to hoard my books, like a dragon hoards treasure. If I go into a bookstore, I will walk out with at least two new books (At least two, because if there’s just one book in the bag, it will get lonely). I’ve learned to stay away from Barnes and Nobles when I’m strapped for cash. The knowledge that I need that ten dollar bill in my wallet for lunch tomorrow is secondary to a shiny new trade paperback. As a voracious reader, I should use libraries far more than I do. But I want to books I read to be mine.

I am slowly rebuying all the books I loved in middle school that were yard-saled or traded in to the paper book store.

I’m a rereader. When some people are feeling blue, they turn to comfort foods. I turn to my comfort books. I’ve gone through five copies of Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany for just that reason.

Personally, I cannot stand loaning out books to people. If there is a book I own that I know a friend of mine MUST read, I will go and buy them a copy as a gift. I don’t like the thought of my books being out in the world. I don’t know how they will be treated, or if they will ever come home to me. Against my normally good judgement, I loaned a book to a friend of my sister. Said friend’s car caught on fire… with my book inside! There was absolutely no polite and socially acceptable way to ask for a replacement, so I just had to suffer. Never lend out books!

I lend books all the time. It’s the only way they leave the house after they enter. :slight_smile:

I am more or less able to remember who has them, and work to get them back after some reasonable duration. If they disappear, I get a replacement.

(I don’t measure my book collection by title count. I measure it by yards of shelf space.)

90+% of the books I own I get used. I do tend to hang on to them until I have to clean off my bookshelf for more shelf space, decide I don’t like a book enough to hang onto it, or need it to equalize credit at said used bookstore.

I have what I consider to be a large collection of books. The “comfort” books, I replace every few years. I don’t mind lending them out.

I buy books all the time … I like the idea of libraries but I’m a terrible library patron personally, it just doesn’t work for me.

I also don’t like to lend books, because it’s too much bother to keep track of that, but I love to give them away. It makes room for new books. I have a very small reserve section – signed copies, things out of print, copies that have a sentimental meaning to me – but other than that, I like to pass them along to others. If someone is over at my house and says “oh, was that book good?” the usual response is “YES, TAKE IT WITH YOU.” Despite this, my shelves are still overflowing.

As a former bookseller and buyer I have way, way too many and since I recently moved, they’re all in a zillion boxes. I loan all the time, but usually only borrow from the library.

I get books from my towers of boxes, the library, paperbackswap.com and Bookmans (used book store), in that order.

Unfortunately, my primary book ownership “preference” is for buying way more books than I read. It’s not that I’m not a reader-- it’s just that there is no way humanly possible I could read as many books as I buy. If I see books for a few dollars or less, I cannot leave without buying one. If I see a book I actually want for around or under ten bucks, I must get it. Unfortunately, bargain books are no longer bargain when the total price equals the GDP of Cameroon.

There’s something about the physicality of a good book that I really, really like; it’s almost like holding a book can be more exciting to me than reading it-- though I’m very picky about what appeals to me in a book, physically.

I mostly buy used books, since I couldn’t afford that many new ones, and I’m trying to fill in my collection of sf from the '50s and '60s. I’ve finished indexing my books - just over 2500, and am starting on the magazines - 260, and I finished my Amazings and am up to Jan. 1950 Astounding.

I get non-fiction from the library, which is stupid since I’m thousands of books behind in my own collection. We have another room full of mostly my wife’s books also. We both love books.

I have a dysfunctional relationship with books; like an anorexic and food, or an alcoholic and booze. I used to be a hoarder: yards and yards and yards of books. For me, a book was always a fetishistic object: it somehow embodied for me the experience of reading it. And this is such a personal experience, that it bothered me to think of another person appropriating it, or sharing it by holding the fetishistic object. So I had to buy every book I wanted to read: I had to own it.

Now, I wasn’t consciously aware of any of this until I got over it. When I moved from Chicago to Seattle, I had to leave all those books behind: I chose one single box of books, and left the rest with friends. Since then, I’m a library fanatic. Pretty much any book I want to read, I can find at the library. And I discovered that a library book has just as much emotional resonance, only of a different kind. When I’m reading a library book, I’m imagining all the other people who’ve experienced this same book, and I feel to an odd extent like part of a private little community.

Of course, there are books that I want to own, or can’t find at the library and have to search out online. But I’m not longer driven to own everything I read.

I don’t like to lend them, though I’ll make a reluctant exception for my family (which is really just my sister). I don’t use libraries, either, because I dislike deadlines for returning stuff. So I buy. Usually new, but sometimes used.

I’m sure I still own more books than the average American, but I used to own a lot more. In the last few years, though, I’ve cut my collection in half.

These days, the books I buy a) are books I can’t get from the library, or b) I plan to sell again when I’m done with them, or c) are reference books or other books I think I’ll consult frequently over an extended period of time.

For most books that I own, their value is purely a function of what they contain. I don’t care if I read the same copy of The Phantom Tollbooth next time I reread it (though my original copy is one of those books I still own and won’t get rid of anytime soon).

I don’t mind loaning them out, though I’ll want them back eventually.

I buy books everytime I go to the book store. And sometimes if I’m bored, I’ll go book shopping just for the hell of it. I don’t know why. I never reread books. I think I’ve reread one in my entire life.

I’m a collector; it’s deeply ingrained into my soul. So I collect books and at the moment most of my purchases are specifically for that collection. While they take up more space I now feel a need to spend a little extra and get hard cover editions; they just feel more permanent to me. I have lent out books before but at this point I’d be hard pressed to things out since too many rare things have walked out of my collections in past.

I am greatly appreciating Amazon’s used book marketplace. Even though with shipping the prices come out to be a little higher than finding a book in a used book store the fact that I can find the books I’m specifically searching for instead of just taking what I stumble across is a huge benefit.

i think anyone who buys a book he has already read and knows he will not read it again is mentally ill. i too was a book hoarder but after moving 5 or 6 times i finally got to the point where i preferred selling books to carrying them and once you have done so it becomes easier and easier. i really think the hoarding thing is some sort of obsessive/compulsive disorder (of course i am not a doctor etc.)

really, why are we hoarding books we know we willl never again read? why not take all of them to your local VA, or senior citizen’s center, library, hospital or prison. there are thousands upon thousands who would appreciate those books gathering dust that are serving no other purpose than to gratify your ego.

ok, let me have it.

Taking that argument to it’s logical extreme, why do anything with your time other than charitable acts? Why collect anything when you could give it to Goodwill? People do things because they get enjoyment from them; there’s no need for further justification than that when we’re talking about collecting books.

As a more direct answer I can tell you that if I were to donate my collection like you suggest all I would be doing is essentially sending my books out to be burned. I doubt you’ll find many people outside of English majors who would touch my “Great Works of Literature” collection (the Straight Dope is not a representative sample of the general population, BTW), they couldn’t really do anything with my antique books, and my science fiction collection contains a lot of former library books which invariably depressed me when I received them and saw that it had been checked out twice fifteen years apart (I’ve got a first edition or Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama that apparently sat on a library shelf for twenty years completely ignored). Anyone I would donate these to would take in by books, cull perhaps 1% out of them (and with my collection I’m being very generous with that 1% number), try to sell them (assuming the organization had sales) and then dispose of them.

As much as you might believe otherwise there isn’t a huge population in the VA, hospitals, or prisons who are waiting for the works of William Shakespeare, obscure Joseph Conrad novels that have been out of print for 80 years, or rare science fiction novels from the sixties. The masses want what’s popular now and people assembling libraries like that are looking for those books; while I can’t speak for every single people on the Dope I strongly suspect that the bulk of the collections represented here would be just another pile of rubbish books to anyone but another collector.

For many authors, I buy my books hardback or trade paperback - it’s not very often that I’ll wait until the mass market ppb comes out. I’ll buy the MM ppb only for new authors or those I don’t really care to shell out $25 to read. I buy them new, too.

I also commonly get rid of books - I only have so much shelf space and I don’t like clutter, so a culling is needed about 3-4 times a year. There are about 50 titles that are “must keep” (my 11-volume Durant Story of Civilization, the original Dune books, reference books, some titles published by people I know). I have no problem saying stuff like “Tom Clancy? I’ll likely never read him again” or realizing that the last book on cosmology I had read was 6 years ago - and getting rid of the books.

I take them to a local used-book store and give the credit/cash to my wife.

I love my books. I get paperbacks for fantsy and fiction since it’s the story that’s important to me, not the cover. But non-fiction and pseudo-scholarly books I generally get in hardcover since that’s about the only way they come. I have a good size backlog of titles to go. I lend to certain people but not often.

I even made a list of all my books. It’s hardly a catalog since I just put them down in the order I found them.

Does anybody else have to resist the urge to buy a pretty copy of a book you already own? If I’m in the used bookstore and I find a cheap, beautiful hardback edition of a book that I already own, it’s all I can do to leave it on the shelf. It’s a sickness.

I’ve stopped going to the library, because I don’t like giving up the books. I do re-read a lot, even if it’s only to skim over my favorite bits, but even if I don’t intend to re-read a book, I still feel compelled to keep it. I just like knowing it’s in the house, and that I could go and get it if I wanted it.

I love to lend out books, but I pine for them until I get them back.

I long ago realized that I don’t have the money or space for all the books I want to read, so I’m a big library user. Now I keep only books that have a lot of meaning to me. I also buy books as gifts (always ones I have previously read and enjoyed).

I “shop” my library’s online catalog daily, and go once a week to pick up and drop off. Me, my kids, and the library staff all know each other by name. We work those people hard all year, so we bring them cards and treats at Christmas.

I’m really lucky there’s such a great library here. They get new releases right away, and I rarely have to do an inter-library loan even for the older stuff I want.

I check out the vast majority of the books I read from the library; otherwise, we’d be living in a house made out of books and starving, I think. I love libraries! And there’s some thrill in hunting down an obscure book and getting it through ILL. :stuck_out_tongue:

I try to only buy a book when I really think it’s something I want to own for a long time. If it’s hard to find, or I will want to re-read it many times, or I think it will be important somehow. I still buy an awful lot of books, but it’s possible for me to walk out of a bookstore with only a list of titles to look up at the library. My las purchase was a few weeks ago from a homeschooling supplier: an Usborne book of world and space (for 2nd grade science), and a collection of poetry alluded to in Anne of Green Gables. Gotta have that!

I wind up with a lot of free or almost-free books, because of the donation table at the library–either I see something good or my mom does, and she brings it home for me. The most those ever cost is a dollar, though I did pay $50 for a good Britannica set. I think the majority of my acquisitions come from there; this week it was Learn New Testament Greek.