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The Great Book-Buying Ban

Monday, 3 September 2012

I was set a seemingly simple challenge in August.  Give up a vice for a couple of weeks and see how much I saved.  Well that sounds easy enough, doesn't it?  I'm fairly strong willed: I can give things up.  Picking the vice in the first place was the difficult part.  I am quite the goody two shoes.  I don't smoke, hardly ever have big nights out, don't fritter money on magazines or Starbucks.  I don't even shop that much.  I've never really been wasteful with my money but the last few years have seen me thinking a lot more about paying off debts, saving for the future and even joining a pension scheme (I know, I know, I should have done it years ago.  Better late than never).

I do still have one downfall.

This has to be the most evil, enabling thing in the whole of the internet.

To clarify, it's not just Kindle purchases - I mean buying books in general.  But I've been trying not to buy piles and piles of stuff (books included) from charity shops just because they happen to be cheap, so more of my recent book purchases have been from Amazon.  I seem to ponder the purchase of a paperback more than I do a Kindle book.  Things are cannily priced in the Kindle store - if something is 77p or 99p then I quite often think "oh I'll give that a try" and before you know it I've bought four or five of them without realising.

The rules I set myself were simple.  For three weeks, no money was to be spent on books, in any format, from any shop.  Free Kindle books were allowed but there were two conditions. 1) Read a review of it from a trusted source first and 2) use the sample feature.

Giving something up for a short period is all well and good but you only change your habits longterm by, well, changing your habits.  Glomming on free books is no better than glomming on cheap ones.  Don't get me wrong, there are some good free books available but they're massively outweighed by badly written, poorly edited rubbish.  Life is too short to read terrible books and so I really need to make myself start reading the sample chapters in order to filter out the crap.

Did I manage it?

Yes!  *pats self on back Trevor and Simon style*  I picked a terrible time to do it - there were at least 4 books released at the end of August that I was desperate to read and I'm not known for my patience - but I summoned all my willpower and didn't buy any books at all.

How much did I save?

Well... I'm going to estimate my monthly spending in supermarkets/charity shops/second hand bookshops at £10-20.  It can and does vary depending on how much I'm in the shops and what bargains I see. I can work out my Amazon spends more precisely - it's an average of £19.06 a month (and that was with me already being very restrained on my spending).  So that's about a tenner a week: not exactly wildly extravagant but a certain amount of it is definitely wasteful.  Three weeks of buying nothing and I've saved myself £30, plus I've hopefully started to train myself into not wasting my time and money on rubbish books.  Nowhere near as much as if I'd given up smoking, but then I'd have had to have been a smoker in the first place.  I'm pleased with my success.

Note: I was asked to take part in this challenge but didn't receive payment for it.  Now Pensions are making a donation to a charity of my choice instead.


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  2. Typical, got me tabs mixed up. I do like challenging myself but this sounds like a really tough one for you Alex - being such a bookworm. Glad you managed it and have found it a good learning curve.
    Buying online makes things a bit too easy these days. click, click, oops.

  3. Very well done! You saved a good deal! Buying online is SUCH a dangerous endeavour- I swear I've spent hundreds of pounds a year more than I used to!

  4. I'm definitely with you on the amazon purchases - it's way too easy, with both books for the kindle and music, to just click a few cheap little things in and fill a basket.

  5. well done :D I just ban myself from Amazon as I just cannot resist browsing from book link to book link, and it's so easy when they already have your details >_<
    PS: what is wrong with Richard III ? I've never read the play mind you.. x

  6. Well done Alex, for such a bookworm that can't of been easy xxxx

  7. I am terrible for 2nd hand books. Now I've replaced chazza shop book spending with library book borrowing. I still get the read but for free... unless I forget about one under the bed and it accrues a late fine haha!

  8. Great achievement for a book lover like you! I've started using my library again over the past month or so, which is so unlike me. Normally I have this mind set that I have to actually OWN the book, but I've realised I don't have the space or the money to do this anymore, so the library has come in very useful for me xxx

  9. Haha! I've officially entered by 9th month of not buying any books. I'm a WINNER.

  10. I've gone a bit crazy on charity shop book buying recently! I have limited Internet and a new place, so they're keeping me sane!

  11. Congratulations! I have done this before as a New Year's resolution thing, so I know how difficult it is.

  12. Well done! It is so easy to pick up a few in a charity shop, especially when they're only 40p or 50p each - but I sometimes check myself and tell myself I can borrow them from the library. They're then free and don't take up precious space. I know that Norfolk library do kindle downloads, so might be worth investigating up there.

  13. My vice is spending on unnecessary food items. I'll buy fruit even though I have apples wilting away in the fridge so I've challenged myself to NOT buy anything except milk and eggs this week. It's going well so far! Not joined a pension scheme yet either...I keep saying I will when I have a permanent contract, that's my excuse haha.

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