Friday, 13 June 2014

Our Changing Book Buying Habits

By Narelle Atkins

Do you have book shelves that look like this? Bulging and buckling shelves, books squeezed in wherever they can fit, and too many books for your available shelf space. I’ve always been a voracious reader and book collector who found it easier to resist buying chocolate and ice cream than books.



This snapshot from my book case reveals a few things about my book buying habits. Most of the books on the shelves are older titles. The way I buy and read books has changed, especially in the last five years. 

I own a Kindle and a tablet. In the last twelve months I’ve bought two to three times more ebooks than print books. Ebooks are an invisible purchase that’s only seen on your device and credit card statement. There’s no conversation needed with other members in your household about where to store your new print books. Or worse, the conversation about how it’s time to ship out your older beloved print books to make space for your new books.

Five years ago I was buying print books, borrowing print books from the library, and searching for back list out of print titles by favourite authors in second hand book shops. I purchased print books that I couldn’t find in book stores from online retailers.

I’ve always read category romance, and the print books only have a shelf life of one month. I have subscribed to the Harlequin Reader Service and received a shipment of Love Inspired books each month. I used to try and beat the rush into Big W, Target or Kmart to find the titles I wanted, but you need to know the monthly restocking cycle to find the books by the popular authors. I found it easier to buy the books direct from Mills and Boon Australia.

It used to be frustrating when you discovered a new author, especially mid-series, but couldn’t locate print copies of their back list. The exceptions were the bestselling authors. For example, I discovered Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series when the fifth book was released, and I promptly purchased the first four print books in the series from my local Dymocks book store.

In 2014, the Love Inspired Heartsong Presents books I write will stay in print for longer than one month. The physical stock will run out, but the ebooks will be available. Our choices and options for buying books is now much broader. We’re no longer limited to the stock of primarily new releases in retail stores. The size of a physical print run doesn’t determine a book’s availability. Readers can choose to read print books, or ebooks, or both.

Have your book buying habits changed in the last five years? Do you now have a preference for either print or electronic, or do you read both? Do you now spend more or less money on books? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin's Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line in a 6-book contract. Her debut book, Falling for the Farmer, was a February 2014 release, followed by The Nurse's Perfect Match in May 2014, The Doctor's Return in August 2014, and Her Tycoon Hero in November 2014. 

Narelle blogs regularly with International Christian Fiction Writers and Inspy Romance. http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com/ 
http://www.inspyromance.com/

She is also a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA). http://acrba.blogspot.com/

Website: http://www.narelleatkins.com
Blog: http://narelleatkins.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NarelleAtkinsAuthor 
Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins

17 comments:

  1. Hi Narelle,
    Yes, my book buying habits have changed dramatically too. I used to drive down from the Hills to the city especially to visit Koorong every month or so, but since having my kindle, I rarely go down ever. My husband is very pleased and keeps telling people to get e-readers for that reason. We've saved lots of money too, and we've had none to spare for years. There is no way I could have afforded to read all the books I've read in the last few years without my kindle. I still love print books, but there are so many benefits in going with the times.
    My bookshelves still look the same as your photo, however, from all the favourites I've owned in the past and the occasional trips to second hand shops.

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    1. Hi Paula, I can understand your preference for buying ebooks. You're saving money on fuel as well, and it's less time consuming to download a book than drive to the city. The convenience of ebooks is hard to ignore.

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  2. Hah! Our bookshelves are filled with all my husband's theology and biography tomes, Narelle. So except for a few treasures and books on writing craft, I circulate mine among friends which is much appreciated by them.( And they rarely return.)
    And yes, I love my Kindle. I used to take a slug of books to Thailand to read in between travelling etc which weighed heavily. So my husband is also pleased with this, Paula.

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    1. Hi Rita, A big downside of ebooks is we only own a license for the book and we can't share it with our friends and family. This is a factor I consider when deciding if I want to buy the ebook or print book.

      Kindles and tablets are brilliant for travelling, although I prefer to read print books on planes. I can happily read during take off and landing, and not have to stop reading because I'm using an electronic device. Those announcements always happen when you're reading an exciting section of the story, lol.

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    2. You're now allowed to keep using your Kindle on flights to and from the US. They've decided as long as an ereader is in airplane mode (no wifi or 3G enabled), they are safe to use. Yay!

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  3. I'm still one of those readers who prefers the print version. Like you Narelle, I like to see the spines of well loved books years after they came into my world. But the ease with which I can download and start reading an e-book is hard to ignore. 'Buy with one click' has certainly delivered more books into my ipad lately (especially the free books) and once we're used to the ease, it's harder to wait for the paper copy.

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    1. Hi Dotti, It's definitely hard to wait for the print copy when we know we are potentially only seconds away from downloading the electronic version. We can choose to wait for the print book, or choose to have instant gratification with the ebook. It's great that we now have both options available.

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  4. The only reason my book buying habits changed is because I don't earn as much money as I did 5 years ago. I still don't buy e-books and don't have a kindle or tablet. I well know the frustration of not being able to find the print books I want or having to pay exorbitant shipping fees because I can only get them from overseas (like being able to get a book on Amazon for 1 cent but having to pay $16 shipping). I think if I travelled more I might consider going the e-book route, but then I object to having to buy books again so that I have them in electronic form.

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    1. Hi Beth, I love the tactile sensation of holding a print book, and the smell of print books. For me, the sensory experience is more pleasant with a print book. I spend a lot of time staring at a screen, and it's wonderful to relax and curl up with a physical book.

      The cost of overseas shipping was a big reason why I purchased an early model Kindle from Amazon in the US. $16 shipping for a 1 cent book is crazy. I can also understand your reluctance to buy the print and ebook version. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  5. My shelves look like yours Narelle - and have extended to the floor, the desk and other available spaces. While I am buying titles on the kindle and appreciate the access, lower cost (usually) and ease of storage, I still find myself reading print books before e-books. I often loan my books to my sister and other friends but this is more difficult to do with e-books. Still I I bought my sister a kindle for Christmas - partly so she could download one of my manuscripts to read :)

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  6. Hi Jeanette. I suspect a large number of readers can relate to our sagging shelf issues. I'm sure many of us have found creative ways to store our beloved books. It's very convenient to read mss on a Kindle, although I haven't taken the time to work out how to use the comment feature. I still use track changes in Word for critiquing.

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  7. I prefer the print version (a new book smells so good!) but using my Kindle app is oh! so easy. Too easy, for someone who collects books like some buy shoes ...

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    1. Hi Andrea, yes, it's very easy to collect a large volume of ebooks on our devices in a very short space of time.

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  8. Love this post, Narelle. Many of us share this struggle to resist the temptation of continually adding to our bookshelves, whether physical or virtual. I do sometimes wonder if it is a form of hoarding especially as I just can't keep up with my buying habits. So I "fast" from time to time and commit to not buy a book for a month or more.

    Like you I now supplement my physical stocks with the ebook but still very much prefer the paper copy to read. Except there are some real advantages with the ipad's good lighting when I'm trying not to disturb Fiona in bed at night.

    I have a thing for hardbacks and will often opt for those but they're not produced as often these days for obvious reasons.

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    1. Hi Ian, yes, in some circumstances it could be considered a form of hoarding. Are we adding books to our collections that we have the time and energy to read? A good question to ponder. Fasting from book buying is something I've done a number of times. I'm also very selective in my choice of the free books I download, only picking books that I have a genuine interest in reading. I have been known to read print books by torchlight, an old habit from my childhood :)

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  9. No, mine haven't changed at all, Narelle. I still don't own a kindle or read E books. Guess I'm just plain old fashioned . LOL

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  10. Dale, thanks for adding your perspective :) The book buying stats show there are a large number of people who continue to buy print books. I can't see that changing anytime soon.

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