In recent years, most readers have developed personal preferences regarding borrowing books from the library versus purchasing them from the bookstore or on an ereader. Whether it’s the smell of old books or new books, there’s bound to be a favorite for every reader!
For the avid reader who manages to plow through 20 books a week, libraries are extremely convenient. Most notably, they allow members to rent books free of charge (assuming you actually plan on returning them), and have a staff of librarians and volunteers who are more than willing to assist you in finding your next favorite read. The sheer number of books at libraries virtually guarantees that you’ll never read all of them, so there will always be a new one waiting for you on the shelf.
Libraries also have a few downsides, however, particularly in the sense that they often don’t have the newest releases. And when they do have them, you’re the 67th person with a hold on that particular book. Therefore, the more popular works can be a bit challenging to get ahold of, especially for those, like myself, with minimal patience. Similarly, when you rent a book, you have a finite period of time to read and return the book, usually ranging from one to three weeks. If you don’t return the book on time, you can wrack up a rather large bill. Lastly, library books have the potential to be in poor condition, whether their covers are falling off or a child has taken the liberty of scribbling on every page with an orange crayon.
When purchasing books from a bookstore, you’re obviously forking over your hard-earned money in exchange for some of the newer, more popular publications. While bookstores generally stock recent releases, they tend to be more expensive than their older contemporaries. Additionally, if you don’t enjoy a book that you’ve already purchased, you likely won’t be able to get a refund and will be stuck with a less than stellar novel on your hands (unless you decide to gift it to a friend). And lastly, while at the bookstore, you also have a significant say in the physical condition of your books (at least if you’re OCD about it like I am).
Personally, I’ve had a few negative experiences with libraries in the past, the most recent of which being a book that was missing approximately 30-40 pages. Therefore, I’ve become more of a bookstore junkie, preferring to buy my books and read them at a pleasurable pace. I also like to see all of my favorites lined up on my bookshelves, and I have the freedom to reread them at the drop of a hat.
That being said, I still have a small glimmer of hope for the library – a friend of mine (Kathy over at The Novelty of Life) recently showed me how to rent ebooks and audiobooks from our local library. Completely oblivious to the fact that this existed, I was blown away and became a little overzealous when borrowing ebooks (I’m currently at the maximum limit of 8 books). So I may eventually be converted to a library-aholic!
What are your thoughts – do you prefer going to the library to borrow books or purchasing them from a store?