There are few things in this life that give me more joy than cracking open a new book. I love the look, the feel and the smell of new books. While I never liked buying new textbooks in college, I love purchasing new books for recreational reading. However, as I contemplate the dwindling shelf space, and the effort involved in transporting the books if we move, and as I consider the cost of buying books new, I am rethinking my position. Perhaps buying new books isn’t the way to go.

Do You Even Need New Books?

There are so many like-new and gently-used books on the market that it seems almost silly to buy new books. You can buy used books for a fraction of the cost of new books, and your decision to buy used books, rather than new, means fewer trees cut down (a plus for those who are environmentally minded). There are a number of these books in circulation, and the Internet means that you have access to used books from all over the country — and the world. However, there might be times when buying new books is warranted:

  • You want to support a specific author.
  • You want to support a specific cause, and buying a book new will help.
  • You might need the latest edition of a textbook for your class.
  • There might be a steep discount offered on some of the books.
  • You want to use a gift card you received to a specific bookstore.
  • You are buying the book as a gift to someone else.
As I think about my buying habits, I actually realize that it may not even be necessary to buy books at all anymore.

We Don’t Even Need Physical Books Anymore

I’m working myself into buying a Kindle, recognizing that physical books aren’t even necessary anymore. We can get electronic books — even though I am ambivalent about what the experience might be like with a Kindle since I enjoy the whole book reading experience so much. However, it isn’t a necessity. My husband, who began teaching college this fall, has directed the bookstore to make electronic versions of his chosen textbooks available to students who want them. This could very well be the wave of the future. If this is the case, it really isn’t necessary to buy physical books — much less buy them brand new.
Of course, even if you aren’t quite ready to ditch the experience of the physical book, you can save money by not buying books. You can take advantage of your local library, as well as consider book swaps. There are online book swaps, like BookMooch and PaperbackSwap, that allow you to send in your books, and in return get access to other books — no need to exchange money.
With all of these resources available to us, and with the advancement of technology, it is not really necessary to buy new. You can find used books, and even buy electronic books. These books can cost less than buying new physical books, and it can even be helpful in other ways.
What do you think about buying new books?



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.