Discussion: Library vs. Bookstore


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?

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I am a senior in high school and an avid reader/reviewer, horseback rider, and graphic designer.  Since a young age, I have fostered a love of reading, beginning with my forays into the Nancy Drew series.  I’ve branched out significantly in my reading tastes since then, and my favorite genres include young adult, romance, mystery, and thriller.  I’m constantly trying to expand my horizons, however, so I do dabble in other genres.  While I’m not reading, I volunteer at a hippotherapy center and a veterinary clinic, practice agility with my dogs, play piano, and sketch.
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11 thoughts on “Discussion: Library vs. Bookstore

  1. Well I am a library volunteer (only for SRC and IT Buddying) so I’m a little biased but if there’s a book raging in the book community and I still haven’t gotten around to buying/reading it, then I’ll borrow it from the library. But if I enjoyed it, then I’ll more likely buy it. It’s good to save you money on books you don’t like 😛


  2. I love our local library. I recently started putting in purchase requests for books I’d like to read and they have actually got a few of them (The Kiss of Deception and These Broken Stars most recently). At my library, if you put in the purchase request you are automatically the first person on the hold list when the book comes it. It has been rather exciting!
    I also tend to buy the books I know I’m going to love because I love having them for rereading and perusing pleasure.
    Thanks for sharing!


    • You’re very lucky that you have the availability of purchase requests – my local library doesn’t offer it, unfortunately. I have a feeling I would be all over that if my library did have it, though!


  3. I LOVE libraries and I go to them all the time, but I also love owning my own copies of books! To prevent from breaking the bank, I’ve developed an addition to used bookstores and cheap booksales (I just went to one today where books were 3 for $1!). Libraries are a nice way of getting books free and reading them, but you don’t get to keep them.


  4. This post hits every important library vs. bookstore point. For the reasons you listed, I’m much more of a library person – I unfortunately don’t have an infinite amount of money to spend on books, and I would hate to spend $18 on a new hardcover, only to find out it wasn’t the novel for me. Plus, I work at my local library, so I’m there multiple times per week and can pick up all my holds then. The only downside is having to wait for the library to order and process new releases – and having to compete with others for spots in the hold hierarchy, although that’s pretty much become a competitive sport for me at this point.


    • Yes, money is definitely a huge concern, especially when you’re buying hardback books that can be anywhere from $18 to $25. And I’m very jealous that you’re at the library so often! That would probably convert me into a library fanatic.


  5. I know what you mean, it can definitely be a trade-off. I lucky enough to have a truly awesome library (or live in a town where no one reads) because my library almost has every new release, and with a maximum of ten holds on something. So I usually will get books from there unless I really am interested in a book then I will buy it. Great post!


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