Discussion: What Makes You Decide to Buy a Book?

Like many readers, I’m an avid collector of books…so much so that I asked y’all for advice when it was time to cull my collection. But sadly, neither the space in my apartment nor the money in my wallet are infinite, and I can’t buy all the books I’m interested in reading. So how do I decide whether to buy a book?

The first thing I always consider is who the author is and/or what they’re writing about. Certain authors and topics will always get my financial support, which means that I’ll do my best to purchase those books as soon as they’re released. Where possible, I always buy physical copies of books by my favourite authors (Seanan McGuire, Kelley Armstrong, Zen Cho, etc.) and books about topics that are important to me (queer SF/F, feminist historical fantasy, and Indigenous Canadian literature) because I want to “vote with my dollar” and generally I can afford to do it.

Another thing to consider is availability of the book I’m interested in. Can I get a copy through the library, or is it unlikely to be purchased? If it’s a hit novel, am I willing to wait weeks or potentially months before a copy becomes available? I’m a pretty patient reader most of the time, and I do have an extensive physical TBR list to wade through, so usually I can wait. But sometimes I’m so excited about an upcoming release that waiting absolutely isn’t an option so I’ll pre-order it…although admittedly I don’t do that often because mail delivery is excruciating where I live and shipping is expensive.

The other thing I usually consider is the price of a the book, whether it’s in print or as an ebook, which will often influence whether I buy a copy for my Kindle library or my print library. With romance novels, I almost always buy the ebook because they’re less expensive, but certain fantasy novels are actually pricier in a digital format than they are in print. And of course, there’s the all-important collection to consider: if I’ve already got the first three books in a series sitting on my shelves, I’m not going to buy the fourth book as an ebook! While I love matching cover art as much as the next person, I’m much more motivated by having consistent bindings (i.e. all hardcovers or all mass market paperbacks for a series) than I am by holding out for matching covers.

So what I want to know is this: how do you decide whether to buy a book, and in what format? Are you more likely to buy a book by a favourite author, or do you prefer to spend your money on books with beautiful cover art and bindings? What do you think of my book buying process?

Let me know your thoughts on buying books and your own book buying habits in the comments below!

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