Books: Buying vs. library

I know many people who read blogs also tend to be pretty heavy “book” readers as well, so I’m curious:

Where do you get the majority of the books you read?

Are you Team Library? Team “Purchase the Hardcover”? Team Kindle/E-Reader? Team Audiobook?

I personally am usually a combination of library + purchase, heavy slanted toward the library side (actual book, not audio- though I do go through phases where I love audiobooks too). My absolute preference though would probably be purchasing a new copy, if money were no object and I didn’t feel like it is wasteful. There is something about owning my very own copy of a beautiful book that I really enjoy. Plus, I like the luxury of knowing I can take as long as I want to read it and can potentially re-read it if I should so desire.

The reason I’m asking this is because I have two ongoing “book related” dilemmas.

1. Library Holds

Currently, our library is not allowing walk-in customers, so all books need to be placed on electronic holds with a scheduled pick up time. I used to be pretty big on just walking in and browsing the “Buzz books” section to find new books to read, especially for fiction choices. While the holds system is awesome overall, sometimes it tends to frustrate me.

Case in point: I recently placed 3 books on hold. They all had relatively long hold lists. Well, on Friday I received notice that all 3 were ready for pick up, simultaneously! (I couldn’t schedule a pick up until Monday night. Boo. I wanted one for this weekend!!)

In case you are curious, the titles I’m waiting on are:

The Girl in the Tower (book #2 from The Winternight Trilogy. I read the 1st one this summer and loved it so much that I just ordered the whole trilogy for my sister’s birthday gift and sent them to her!)

Still Life, book #1 of 16 in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny (mystery author highly recommended by Kelsey! Based on the # of copies the library owns and the # of holds on them, I can tell these are wildly popular!)

You’re Not Listening, a non-fiction about how poorly most of us really listen to others and what to do about it! Recommended by Lisa. 🙂

It is highly unlikely that I will be able to finish all 3 of these books in the next month. I just don’t read enough…sadly, I usually only average 1-2 books per month, currently. 3 would be a stretch, unless I’m on vacation and have more free time! (I suppose with renewals I might be okay, but I’d really rather they not all show up at the same time.)

With a purchase, obviously you can buy the book and read it whenever you want. If I see a book that I’m just dying to read, but the library holds list is 150 people deep, I am more likely to just give in and buy it! The waiting game at the library can annoy me sometimes.

People that read many new/popular titles: do you just wait it out on the holds list??? Or is there some other secret I’m missing?

2. Book Storage

The library is also awesome for reducing clutter in your home, of course. Books take up space.

This is an ongoing problem at our house, since the boys love to read, too…over the years we have collected dozens and dozens (probably hundreds) of books! They absolutely love getting books for birthdays and Christmas. One year, between several series that Ethan got from different people, we counted up 22 new books for Christmas that he received!! He was overjoyed, but where the heck do you put them all?!

We do regularly comb through them all and either donate or take some to half priced books, but I really struggle getting rid of some of them! I love books! Plus, the boys are often hesitant to get rid of some of the series they love. I wish I had a wall (or room) in my house like this:

Photo by Radu Marcusu on Unsplash

Fellow readers….any tips?? I am especially curious to hear from Lisa, because she is an absolutely voracious reader and breezes through >10 books per MONTH.

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for indoor plumbing! Always, but especially as the weather turns cold. 🙂

16 thoughts on “Books: Buying vs. library”

  1. I read lots of books as well. For awhile I bought real physical books then I started running out of space or not picking them up to actually read. So then I started buying kindle books to read on my phone but that got out of hand price wise. Our libraries are not yet open so currently I’m borrowing e books from the library but there isn’t always quality selection. I’m still reading on my phone and wondering if I should get some sort of e-reader. I’ll probably keep buying e books because they are easy to store and convenient especially since I go through books so fast.


    1. I am always intrigued by the idea of keeping a Kindle book going in the app on my phone. I don’t currently do this, but I wonder if I had one book that I “only” read on my phone, it would encourage more reading and less mindless scrolling around on my phone when I have random downtime. I know what you mean too about the e book selection when borrowing. I ran into that a lot when I tried to borrow lots of audiobooks from the library in the past. Sometimes I would get lucky, but without a hold placed I often felt limited to a sort of mediocre selection to choose from.


  2. I am definitely book buyer type. I don’t feel bad spending money in them as they bring so much joy to me. For environmental reasons I try to buy used when possible.
    Storage? I always find somewhere to store them! Will check out your holding list!


  3. I love books too and really struggle with this same dilemma! All things being equal I prefer to use the library or a secondhand book store over buying a new book, but it doesn’t always work due to limited selection in our rural area.
    It’s actually pretty easy to buy used books online, and that’s my go-to option these days. I find the books I get are usually in great condition and only a fraction of the price (and carbon footprint). I also have a Kindle, which I use a lot for reading late at night when turning the pages would be distracting for my husband, but I rarely buy new Kindle books. Once a book is in the public domain (i.e. more than 70 years after the author’s death), it seems to turn up for free on Kindle. That adds up to a lot of books, and at the rate I read (very slowly) I will never run out of choices!

    PS really looking forward to digging into that Winternight trilogy – will be great for the long dark winter nights. Thanks again 🙂


  4. Most libraries have a way to pause your holds. I put books I want to read on hold and pause them. Once I am ready for them, I take them off pause. That way I don’t get them all at once. I pretty much always have the max number of holds on my card. Pausing lets you keep your place in line.

    I very rarely buy books for myself, but I buy books for my boys all the time. I think they like seeing their books on the shelf, even if they don’t re-read. Plus, I have 4 close in age boys, so the books usually get read more than once between them.


    1. I am so glad you mentioned this. I have noticed the “pause hold” option on there but honestly have never tried it! I wasn’t even really sure how it worked. I will definitely be trying this!! I really like the idea of just adding any books that I want to read on there as soon as I hear of them so that I’m all set to go! 🙂 I think the main reason I get turned off to the holds thing is that I usually end up having to wait a pretty long (unknown…) amount of time- so this pausing idea would probably really help with that.


  5. I’m on Team Library! My wife does the digital downloads to her Kindle from the LA Library app. So easy and simple!

    As for books that have massive hold times, if I really want them I’ll just buy them used on Amazon.


    1. I have never tried getting e-books from the library, only audiobooks! I don’t know why I haven’t done this! I would really like to start keeping one e-book on my phone in addition to the paper book I’m reading, so that I have a book available at all times.


  6. Thanks for the shout-outs! So I used to be a major book buyer. I had 6 book cases!! But my husband is a major minimalist and did not have room for all those bookshelves when I moved in with him back in 2016. So I really thought about the books I owned and why I was holding onto them. So few reflected my current reading tastes, so I ended up donating hundreds of books to a non-profit called “Books for Africa” – they send them to various literary centers in Africa. So I felt good about where those books all went. I am probably down to owning maybe 30 books? I am not even sure how many there are as I own so few. Now I only buy books that I want to reference in the future, so that tends to be books on parenting or antiracism resources (that’s been a focus for me this year given all that is going on in our country).

    So most of my books come from the library. As soon as I hear about a book I want to read, I put it a hold on it and will pause the hold. Pausing is definitely the way to go, as Jessica mentioned above. I pretty much pause every single book on hold and then unpause it when I am ready to read it. You can also pause digital books which is a new enhancement – up until recently you couldn’t pause a digital hold. This approach requires me to be more patient, though, but there are usually so many books available for me to read that it’s ok for me to hold off for a really buzzy book. Our library switched to ‘grab and go’ – so we can make quick trips to the library to check out books but the idea is that your visit will be extremely short and you are in and out in a matter of 5-10 minutes. But before that, I had to call and tell them I wanted to pick up holds and they would put them out for us. I am glad grab and go is an option for us now, though. Having to schedule a pick up just makes it a little bit harder to get books!

    One area that I spend with not much regard, though, is books for our son. But we re-read the books soooo many times that it feels like money well-spent and I want him to be surrounded by books. So I have no issues spending money on books for him, especially at this stage of life. I think we’ll try to get him to be a library user when he’s older and isn’t re-reading books, but I’ll always be willing to spend money on books for kids. That’s actually what I get for my nieces and nephews for every birthday. I’ve never bought toys for my nieces and nephews because I’ve seen their houses and how much they get for Christmas so I know they really don’t need more toys! But books take up very little space! My siblings are all very happy that I’ve gone that route! 🙂


    1. Definitely going to try the holding and pausing idea! So when you “un-pause” it, in theory you should get the book pretty quickly, right? If you are already at the top of the list, for example?


  7. Can I be on both teams? I LOVE my library and am so grateful they are doing curbside pickup now. I use it both to request physical books as well as ebooks. I generally prefer the library to save money and space in our home, but I do try to buy books from our local bookstore too, but I tend to buy books for my classroom library or my daughter than my personal use. It brings me joy to buy books that I know lots of other people will use 🙂


  8. Yes, our library system shows where you are at in the hold list, so it will say what your hold # is in comparison to the total number of books. So for example 1 of 86 copies, or 34 of 86 copies, so if your hold number is less than the total number of books, you know you’ll get the book once a book is returned, or sooner if they have one in stock. It can take a little longer in covid times because books get quarantined when they get returned so the wait might be a little bit longer…


  9. I am team e-reader all the way now. I still read physical books – trade them with a friend, and buy mine from the half-price bookstore – but I love my Apple Books. (I just could not get used to the Kindle…) It’s a one-time investment, yes, but given the inconsistency in my reading time, I know that I’d have a hard time actually finishing any library books. Plus, I have not had any luck with the library system. The “lines” for the books I want to read are insanely long! I’m patient, but not that patient. The other thing I love about the e-books is finding new authors and titles through the “readers also liked…” or suggested options. I go down the rabbit hole of thinking “Oh, this looks good! So does this! So does this!” (Thank goodness for the weekly “specials” they have… $5 and under for select new-ish and older books. 🙂

    The storage issue is what prompted me to switch to e-books… I just don’t have the space anymore. Favorites and ones I want to keep forever and underline / dog ear are purchased in print; the rest – if print – go back to the HPB.


  10. So on Apple Books you purchase them, right? Like on the Kindle app? I’ve never tried Apple books. I just have the Kindle app on my phone, so any “e-reading” I do I tend to do on my phone (although as I said, I haven’t been doing much e-reading in general.) I do have an old Kindle fire, so I could try that route again…although I’m pretty comfortable reading stuff on my phone if it’s just now and then. What device do you use for an e-reader? I agree with you too about the recommendations/ suggestions! I like to track my books on Goodreads and it does the same thing there, too. I’ve found some good books that way! I should probably reconsider the e-book idea, since it seems we agree- storage is a real problem!! A couple other commenters had some good tips about how to navigate the library holds system- apparently you can put things on hold and then just “pause” them. See Jessica and Lisa’s comments above. I’m going to try to start doing that and see how it goes!


  11. You do purchase them in app – either the Kindle one or the Apple Books app. I use the Apple one more, to be honest, because it’s just easier to keep them all in one place. I don’t know what the Kindle fire can do but it sounds similar? I also have the library app on there which is good, and other apps (of course) for weather, etc.

    I use an iPad mini -not sure if they make them anymore? But it’s about 5×7 – perfect size, in my opinion! I have used Goodreads and TOTALLY fell off the wagon this year. Need to get back on because I do love the recommendations! They’re usually spot on.

    Thanks for the tip on the pause feature – I will have to look into that!


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