Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Bookstore or Library

I am a Frequent Flyer of the literary miles category. I inter-library loan, grab stuff off the FREE shelf, donate back, check out DVDs, CDs, books, audios, magazines–if it has a bar code I find a way to get it checked out and get it home. I have yet to check out their seed catalog *make note*. I even joined the Library Board of Trustees for a year and a half. That could be a blog post in the making.

image: Libraries. Sigh. Wait, shouldn’t that “l” be an “L”? Aren’t libraries proper nouns, words of significant importance?

Now–with all my Book Boostering, you would think I would buy more books. My bookshelf at home is actually rather anemic. Somewhere in the post collection I have photos and details. Here’s the deal: I don’t buy them because the library has already done that. Plus, books need dusting, and bookshelves take up a LOT of space. Teeny house. Hate dusting.


I don’t go to bookstores. I just don’t. I don’t want to spend the money. I just want to read the book. Occasionally I will buy a book as a gift. I usually review books because they are free and then I give them away. I prefer the word “frugal”, thankyouverymuch.

Yesterday I broke the pattern. I actually stepped into a bookstore and actually bought a book. Ours is a smallish town and box stores consist of the ubiquitious Wal-Mart, a half-hearted Penney’s, one Hallmark, the usual fast food five, and a handful of motels that are in everywhere anytown. No Barnes ever so Noble, only three private bookstores. One smells like the dusty, mildew-ish haunts I avoid, one is bright and serves up new books (and I’m glad they offer discounts to teachers), and the other is an anomaly. This is the one I popped in to visit.

It smelled of new books, was brightly lit up, organized well, had reasonable prices, and an eclectic assortment of titles, plus it had the quirky owner esconced behind the counter. After my purchase of a gift book (no spoilers), I learned the no-funky smell is due to the painstaking care of each book being sanitized and being given a new cello cover. Lovely.

I still prefer libraries, but should I ever develop that urge to squander my occasional windfall on books instead of the usual dinner out or garden plants or gifties on the progeny, I now know a place where I can meander and come away with a treasure.


Bookstore or Library: preference?

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20 thoughts on “Bookstore or Library

  1. I’m trying to use the library more, but I still end up buying books. It’s not that I mind spending money on them–they’re far cheaper than a movie when you consider the hours of entertainment you get from them–but it’s that my shelves are getting too packed. Must downsize!

    But in terms of how much I love them, they both equally have my heart.

  2. I can’t resist either and am running out of space for all the books I buy!

  3. I feel no guilt whatsoever in buying books I know I will enjoy (generally by an author I already like). For trying new books, I stick to the library.

    I greatly enjoy the atmosphere of either–as long as I’m surrounded by books, I’m happy!

  4. I think this is my favourite post of yours ever. Wonderful.
    Well you know that I’m a book buyer – I have two massive IKEA shelves filled up and books in piles all over the floor in front. My husband loves it (not). But I’m trying to be more like you and use the library more often. I have about 6 library books out right now. I like that there’s no pressure to like a book, or even to finish it really. When you buy a book, it’s so much worse if you don’t like it. That said, I LOVE bookstores and will go to all of them. Especially when I travel! Often bookstores are on the travel itinerary.

  5. I am a bookstore fellow though and though.

    I love reading, of course, but I also love to acquire. Nothing please me more than to trot to my overstuffed bookshelves to pull out one of my faves for a quote or an esoteric factoid. I know that in the internet age this makes me a bit of a dinosaur, but, as Popeye says, “I yam what I yam.” (And, yes, I own a book about Popeye, too. As I said, I like my factoids esoteric.)

  6. I frequent no fewer than five independent bookstores in San Francisco on a regular basis. I also sell books back to one of them, GreenApple Books, and use the credit to buy more books. And having just packed 40+ boxes of books—solid like 3D puzzles—in preparation for a move in a couple of weeks, I will let you guess what my preference is. But I still visit the library weekly, checking out books like a fiend. I love interlibrary loans for academic or nonfiction research.

  7. You’re lucky to have three bookstores in your town. We don’t even have one anymore but there is a great used one in the town next to ours. If a book is inexpensive and I know I will reread it, then I will buy it. If not, I love our local library too. “Barnes ever so Noble” – hee hee

  8. I looooooove bookstores and I do prefer to buy books. I’ve never been a huge fan of libraries, mostly because I dread to think where the hands of readers before me have been. But I’ve recently been getting over that issue and have begun frequenting my local library.

  9. Make Something Mondays on said:

    Very interesting! Do you have an e-reader? Depending on your location, you can rent free kindle books from your local library for 2 weeks. I do it all the time. I haven’t been to a library in a long time but I also prefer them over bookstores. So glad you found a bookstore you could frequent if you wanted to.

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