Thursday, September 21, 2006

No more stockpiling?

I've been trying a new mental strategy on myself this week. I've told myself that I can buy any book I want, but the catch is, I can't buy it until I'm prepared to read it. No more stockpiling, no more bumping library books to the front of the queue since an owned book means a book I can ignore until I run out of material with due dates. No, if I buy a book now I should intend to read it immediately.

(I'm still a bit foggy on whether books I obtain with coupons need apply to this rule. Used books don't, obviously, since I can't control when I might stumble across an interesting title at a price I want to pay, but I'm probably in the used book store about ten times a year and I'm on Amazon probably that many times each day. I've never gone longer than 24 hours before using a coupon, either; perhaps I should leave a small window open for impulse shopping.)

Right now I think this is a brilliant piece of reverse psychology. I truly want to read more classics, more books I already own, over the next several months, but how can I get to them if I'm always placing holds for new books I've only just heard of. Telling myself I can buy a book when I'm ready for it instead of the library telling me when I can have it and when I have to have it back for the next person on the list--well, it feels kind of liberating. I think I'll save money in the long run, too. If I decide on my own schedule that it's time to read a book, and there's no waiting list for it at that point, I may well check it out instead of buying it since I know I'll be able to renew it.

Has anyone ever tried this strategy? Does it work? I'm really curious as to how long I can go without feeling that urge to stockpile. I pre-ordered the new Atkinson a few week back, but I expect I'll get to it as soon as I finish the R.I.P. and Slaves of Golconda books. I'm going to try to resist the urge to place any more holds at the library--I don't have the willpower to cancel the outstanding ones, but maybe I can be consistently reading more books that I own by December.


  1. The strategy works for me, but then I've only just realized that my book-buying "problem" is pretty small relative to the habits I hear about in bookblog circles. My urge to buy is huge, but I rarely succumb.

    For the rest of the year I'm allowing myself to buy only one book, for my birthday (oh, maybe one for Christmas too). In addition, I have a very short list of titles I'm allowed to buy if and only if I find them discounted/remaindered at under $x. And I have PLENTY on hand to read in the meantime.

    I don't know about your coupons though. That sounds like cheating. ;)

  2. I always promise myself that I will do just this, but then I walk into a book store and come out with a bulging bag. I know that the new books will be just part of the enormous and ever growing TBR pile in my bedroom, living room, study, spare bedrooms, etc. Since I know I can't be trusted to keep to this scheme, I will be very glad to hear how well someone else doew with it.

    I let myself off the hook when I read Nick Hornby's Polysyllabic Spree. I felt much more normal seeing that it's not just my habit.

  3. Is it cheating not to want my coupons to stockpile? :)

    I think I will consider this experiment a short-term success if I do no more for the rest of the year except use a coupon to buy the new Charles Frazier (which I intend to read very slowly to make up for rushing through Cold Mtn) and one other (possibly the new Slaves selection) between now and the end of the year. But I'm really hoping it will turn out to be something I can manage for the long term.

  4. Good luck! I would never be able to stick to such a promise.

  5. That's the way I used to be before I began blogging. When I needed a new book, I'd head off to the bookstore, find something, come home, and begin reading it. But now ... best of luck!

  6. My problem is the library part. I've got books on the shelf that I've never read - but if I'd gotten those same books from the library, I would have finished them years ago!

  7. Good luck with that! I only scoff because I have made this sort of promise to myself before too only to fail miserably in the execution of it. Stockpiling books, in my opinion, is one of the better vices to have.

  8. It seems a noble aim but I'm dubious about whether I'd be able to stick with such a plan. I confess to being a bit paranoid about the availability even of brand new books. Who knows how quickly they might go out of print? I know, I know, that's my rationalizing voice not my rational voice!

  9. Anonymous11:33 AM

    I've made this promise to self so often. And I break it.




    It -- my addiction to acquiring books, an addiction even more powerful than my addiction to actually reading the books -- has gotten to the point where (for example) I have already prepared the list of books I will purchase with my affiliate payment. They pay about thirty days after the close of the quarter. The quarter closes September 30. So that's about, what, fifty days and nights into the future? And I already have my list of books good to go.

    Hello?! Melissa?! I'm guessing there's something more productive you could be doing, like, oh, I don't know. Hey, wait! I've got it! Read something you already own!


    I'll offer you a sincere, "Good luck, Susan." But I'm thinking this isn't going to go as well as you think.

    (*wry grin*)

    Enjoy an awesome weekend.


  10. No, this probably won't work. I'll do my favorite bit rationalizing--the first edition hardback will surely go up in value (yeah, right, it'll be on the remainder table in no time flat)--and I'll be right back to stockpiling. But I haven't bought a book in more than a week so I feel all virtuous at this point!

    And I do the affiliate payment books list way ahead of time as well, same as with the lists for books to acquire with credit card "pay backs," although I'm likely to order something I'd never planned on at the last minute.

    I hope you have a great weekend, too, Melissa!

  11. Anonymous4:43 PM

    I say go for it. Use the book coupons for when you feel weak....of course I said I wouldn't buy anything until after the holidays (expcepting book club books), and I have cheated no less than four times so far....Still I know what you mean about reading what you already OWN. Those library books throw me off every time, since you feel like you HAVE to read them. I am trying not to put books on hold, too. Now I need to stop starting so many books and finish what is already on the reading pile!! Good luck. Now the bad thing about publicly posting this is that your readers will call you on it when you slip up! :) (So just lie and don't tell us....LOL)

  12. Anonymous8:48 AM

    I wish I could be more positive than all the other people who are saying they've tried this and it doesn't work, but it hasn't worked for me either. My problem is that I walk past my very friendly local library every day on my way to work, whereas I only get to visit bookshops once a month or so. The temptation to just slip in and order something else is just too much. And then, of course, they have to go back and so whatever has been bought slips further down the pile. In addition, there are all the books I buy for the College library and I can't really recommend them to the students without reading them first, can I?
    I really hope this does work for you though, because then you can write and tell us all where we are going wrong.

  13. I started to write a comment, and it went on and on, so I decided to turn it into an entry, here:

    In short, that doesn't work for me either. The only cure for stockpiling is not to shop, and the only cure for library queue jumping over stockpiled books is to restrain myself. Coupons and other incentives are sirens. I'd love to get to the point where I have no stockpiled books, and am able to buy or borrow my next book just because it's the thing I most want to read. Isn't it pretty to think so?


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