How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

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How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Nathan Bransford » June 5th, 2011, 10:35 pm

I'm curious about how much price factors into your decision when buying a book. Is it something you consider first, second, third, only if it's exorbitant? Do you favor cheaper books over more expensive ones? Does this affect your e-book purchases?

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by charlotte49ers » June 5th, 2011, 10:40 pm

If it's a book I'm purposefully seeking out I price shop, but the only reason I wouldn't buy it would be if the price was insane.

A book I'm wishy-washy about, I try not to spend over $10 - $15 for.

I rarely buy books on a whim, so if I were to be attracted to one I didn't know anything about, it would be hard for me to pay full price for it.

And I don't have an e-reader, so I don't really have an opinion on that.

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Collectonian » June 6th, 2011, 12:58 am

It depends :-) As I was thinking about your question, I realized it really is very situational for me. Manga, for example, is my first love when it comes to books, comprising over half my library. I'll plop down the full cover price of $9-11 each for one, minus my B&N discount or the usual Amazon discount if it is a series I'm really loving. However, I also remember when one company started up releasing stuff and their volumes were $13 each. I wouldn't buy them at full price at all, no matter how much the story appealed to me. There was also one manga series I love, D.N.Angel that I have continued to avoid buying the most recently released volume of. The price was the same, but the volume was so thin compared to the rest, that I couldn't justify the price. I'm the same with light novels, happily paying $12 a pop for them.

When regular novels, though, I seem to swing the total opposite! I rarely, if ever, pay full cover price for a novel, non-fiction work, or any other non-manga/non-light novel. The bulk I get at Half Price books for half price (da dum dum), or I'll pick up in auctions, at Wal-mart, or at some heavy discount bookstore. Unless, it is something I've long been seeking or really really really want to read. Albert Payson Terhune dog books, for example, I'll pay up to $50 a pop for in eBay auctions for early editions, versus paying the maybe $8 for a modern reprint. Paid $30 for a rare copy of the Fox and the Hound (finding the author's signature in it made it a bonus - you may hate me! ***mwua ha ha***). Looking at some of my recent purchases....I wanted to try Allison Brennan's new Seven Deadly Sins series. Half Price had the second book, so I paid full price for the first one at Barnes and Noble, then got the second half price. If Half Price didn't have it, I probably would have grabbed it at B&N as well. So its not so much that I think most regular novels aren't worth the paperback cover price, but being, uh, thrifty. :-D

As for eBooks, I honestly won't pay for them at all. I don't have an eBook reader, just the Kindle for PC and I will only read the freebie ones or ones I borrow from other folks. I don't read most "real" books there, though. Almost all are eBook only releases. If it is available in print, I'll try to get it from the library if I want to read before buying. If I can't get it there, I'll try to borrow on eBook, or just go without. I think I have only ever actually deliberately bought one "eBook", which I bought before they actually became big. It was for a game guide that was out of print but offered by the company as a downloadable eBook. I think its stuck somewhere on my desktop that has been out of commission for two years now...paid $10 for it, but wouldn't do it again.

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by HillaryJ » June 6th, 2011, 2:24 am

Quality is the first driver for me in book purchasing (quality meaning it's well-written, well-edited and aligns with my taste). A combination of hook/cover/voice comes second, for authors or series I don't know. Pricing comes third. I won't buy something just because it's cheap. There are a lot of good books out there. No need to bog down my library with something I probably won't ever read. I also won't download an electronic book that's free if I know I probably won't read it.

I will pay full hardcover price (usually $20+) for only a few authors that I adore and trust. I will pay that for paper books or e-books, though I will grumble more about the e-book purchase. This list is very short, maybe four authors.

I will pay up to $10 for paper books from authors that I enjoy or have heard very good things about from more than one person whom I trust, and that I've sampled enough to know I will probably like them. I will pay up to $7.99 for the same electronically.

I do watch for special pricing on electronic books, and subscribe to the newsletters of a few publishers that consistently work with authors that I like. They often have monthly specials or discounts, especially just before the author has a new release coming out. I also watch twitter for heads-ups (that sounds bizarre), and find a lot of special electronic prices that way.

I think the least I've ever paid for an electronic book was $2.99. I've paid as little as $.99 for short stories (looking at you, Margo :) ), but I'm frankly suspicious of the quality of novels under $2.99 unless that is an established publisher's promotional price.

Huh. I don't think I've ever really analyzed my buying habits before. Interesting.
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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Sommer Leigh » June 6th, 2011, 8:50 am

I am a publisher's favorite book buyer - price isn't a concern when I want a book. However, Amazon has sort of ruined me on buying new hardbacks in store. I have a hard time paying $17 when I could as easily pay $12. I also have Amazon prime so I get free 2 day shipping and life is nice. However if I forget to preorder a book, I always end up in the book store ready to pay full price on a book I intend to read immediately and waiting two days is absolutely out of the question.

When it comes to ebooks, I don't even look at the price. I just buy it because I need to read it right now. However, I don't tend to buy very many books just to buy them. I buy them because I intend to read them and soon. That I can send samples to my Kindle has made this easy for me. I fill my kindle with samples, read them until I find a book I want to read right now, then click "buy."
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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Watcher55 » June 6th, 2011, 8:56 am

Price is usually my last consideration. I have two reasons for going to a bookstore (grouchy oldschooler - I don't like buying books online - no ebooks); either I need a particular book, or I'm in the neighborhood and it would be wrong to just walk past. I look at the cover, the blurbs, the author's bio, table of contents (History, Science or other non-fiction) and a few random pages. Unless my available cash is tight, I don't usually even look at the price.

Of course this strategy failed me just last week. I needed a CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE so I went to an offcampus bookstore that serves Tiger High (U of Memphis). Well, they didn't have the CMS so I chose a pocket manual and the LITTLE BROWN HANDBOOK. I'd forgotten that textbooks are a giant money-mill, and when I got to the counter I discovered they wanted $65 for a USED Little Brown :evil: That was the first time in my memory that I didn't buy a book once I got to the cash register.

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Margo » June 6th, 2011, 1:19 pm

I've been surprised at how price conscious I've become since buying a Kindle. I'm suddenly very aware that the paperback I'm buying is probably cheaper on Amazon or in a second-hand store. I'm suddenly adverse to buying an ebook for $10.99 that is otherwise only available as a $24.99 hardback. I certainly don't need all books to be $2.99 or $0.99, but my idea of a good price has adjusted downward while I wasn't looking. I find myself reluctant to spend more than about $5-6 on a novel.

(That said, I'll usually pay more for a good non-fiction research book.)
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Post by Doug Pardee » June 6th, 2011, 1:55 pm

For fiction, I've been reading only e-books for over a year. I still have a couple of printed novels from 2009 that are waiting to be read, and who knows if I'll ever get to them.

Here's the bad news: I've found so many interesting free e-books that I now have a backlog of about 300 free titles waiting to be read, and I add new ones faster than I finish the older ones. I simply don't bother spending even 99 cents on an e-book any more. Rich Adin recently wrote about having the same situation.

Here's the good news: I'm not at all a typical fiction reader, because I have no interest in series. I'll gladly read the first book in a series and, even if I thought it was great (Billy Boyle comes to mind), I don't feel any need to buy and read the next one. Similarly, I don't develop an affinity for particular authors — I prefer variety rather than familiarity. I do try to make it a point to write reviews of the free e-books that I've read, and I hope that the reviews on the better ones will eventually lead to sales to other readers. I try to think of myself as a sort of talent scout.

Yes, there are a lot of lousy free e-books out there. But the same is true of non-free e-books and of printed books. I cherry-pick the freebies that sound interesting, that got reviews that make me think I'd like them, and that don't send me running away after reading the first few pages in a preview. Even so, I stop reading a significant percentage of free e-books, either at page 30 or at about the 1/3 point — since I didn't pay anything for the e-book, I have no reason to force myself to read something that isn't working for me, especially since I have so many more freebies waiting for me. And after all of that filtering, I do find quite a few very good, sometimes even excellent, e-books that I got for free.

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Leonidas » June 6th, 2011, 2:05 pm

Price is definitely a deciding factor when I go to the bookstore to buy books. I'm seventeen and without a job, so most of the time I go to the bookstore with a giftcard, ready to spend it all. I don't have an ereader, but I noticed when I looked at some books on my Mom's iPad that it was actually cheaper to buy the physical book than buy the ebook from the Apple store. I don't know if that's just because Apple likes gouging people, but I found it interesting.

When I go to buy books, I generally don't have more than one or two set books in mind. I always buy as many paperbacks as I can, so I can buy more books. If I'm torn between two books, I'm more likely to pick the cheaper of the two. However, that isn't really because I'm thinking of the price or amount of money that I'll save as actual money -- I think of it as more money I can put toward another book. I hardly ever buy full priced hard cover books. I wait for even my favorite books to be in paperback or on the discount shelf before I pick them up in hardcover.

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Chantelle.S. » June 6th, 2011, 4:24 pm

It depends on the value of the book.
If I'm having a BBQ and I have to make a couple of salads, I'll go find the cheapest Salad recipes book on the shelves.
If it's a book for the kids, naturally I'd pay that little bit more for the educational ones than I would for, say, colouring books.
If it's a book that's been recommended to me, depending on how good the first page is, I might pay the full price for it. Else I'll wait for my library/community to have another massive booksale and see if I can find an el-cheapo second hand copy there.
BUT. If it's a book written by one of my favourite authors, I don't even look at the price. If you know an author delivers again and again...well, the really good books are priceless and I'd pay whatever I have to for it.
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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by sierramcconnell » June 7th, 2011, 11:25 am

I shop around, definitely. Because I know that I can get it cheaper online with my BN discount. :3

I have such a small 'must have now\following' list anyway, so if I see something I want to buy in the store, I can usually find it cheaper either online or from a reseller. Recycled books are much more fun.
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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by longknife » June 7th, 2011, 11:32 am

I usually buy new books at the AFB Exchange store and ignore the prices. I look for favorite authors or titles with blurb that catch my interest. An example is Marine One by a guy named Huston - never heard of him but liked the book so much, I'll look for more.

If it's a hard copy I want to add to my reference collection - it's off to or someplace to find a used book in decent condition. I've bought some nice books that way.

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by dios4vida » June 7th, 2011, 2:57 pm

If I'm just trying it out, I'll go for cheap. I know a lot of the cashiers at my local used bookstore by name and they know me (and give me discounts :D) because I buy so much from them. If it's an author I know I like, then I do my best to preorder their new books on Amazon. Saving $10 on a new hardcover gets me all excited. I'll also stock up on their old ones through a combination of used and new. I try to buy at least a few new so that they get royalties.

For the most part I like the $10-$15ish range. I'll have to think about anything over $20. There are times I'll go for exorbitant - I did pay $90 for the Icewind Dale Trilogy collector's edition signed by R.A. Salvatore and Terry Brooks (it's one of my treasures) and $30 for a signed copy of Changes by Jim Butcher (another treasure, though not really exorbitant. Just a little.) but those times are far and few between. I also knew I loved those books before I bought them.

So overall, price isn't the first thing I look at. I go for quality writing, exciting storytelling, and if it looks like it has that then as long as it isn't crazy expensive I'll probably go for it.
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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by sheribomb » June 11th, 2011, 12:45 pm

For me, it depends on the book. If it's a book I'm not sure about, I definitely pay attention to the price. This mostly applies to non-fiction and high-brow, "literary" fiction. I'll often try to get those from the library or used online because I am not sure whether I'll want to finish them.

But with books I'm reading solely for entertainment value (which, for me, tends to be plot-driven "genre" fiction), I will pay whatever it takes to finish the book. I generally read these on my Kindle or iPhone and I almost always download the sample chapters first. If they grab me, I will buy the rest of the book for whatever it costs. Generally, the books range from $5 to $12, so it's within my book budget (I usually allow myself a few books a month). Anything over $14 hits my radar and I think, "Maybe I should find this somewhere else." But then, my urge to read more of the book usually wins out and I buy it anyway. I can be a very compulsive reader and buy a lot of my books late at night when I can't get to sleep and am looking for something to occupy my mind. The instant gratification of ebooks is so awesome. I love that I can get sample chapters -- they are almost always an indicator for me of whether or not I will want to read the book. If the sample chapters are good, I will almost always buy the book.

I hardly ever buy paper books anymore but, when I do, I prefer the paperback versions. Paying $20+ for a hardcover definitely hurts a little. :)

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Re: How Price-Conscious Are You When Buying Books?

Post by Mira » June 11th, 2011, 7:31 pm


I seem to have unconscious high marks that I won't go past. I've noticed this as I've been browsing Kindle for books.

If I don't know the author at all, I won't buy it for more than seven bucks, even if the reviews are stellar.

If it's an author that's been recommended by someone I trust, I'll go as high as 12 bucks.

If it's someone I know and love, up to 25 bucks is fine.

If it's J.K. Rowling, I'd cash in my 401K.

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