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21 Ways I Get My Hands on Books

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Rebecca Hussey

Staff Writer

Rebecca holds a PhD in English and is a professor at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. She teaches courses in composition, literature, and the arts. When she’s not reading or grading papers, she’s hanging out with her husband and son and/or riding her bike and/or buying books. She can't get enough of reading and writing about books, so she writes the bookish newsletter "Reading Indie," focusing on small press books and translations. Newsletter: Reading Indie Twitter: @ofbooksandbikes

While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Monday, July 11th.

This post originally ran March 23, 2016.

When I think about the ways my reading life now differs from what it used to be, my mind boggles at the variety of venues for book acquisition. When I was a kid I used to get books from my parents’ shelves, as gifts, and from the library. As I got older, I started to buy books now and then — always print because ebooks didn’t exist  — usually from mall stores like Walden Books. Then I bought books from my college bookstore and now and then from used bookstores. But that was about it.

Ah, how things have changed. We are living in a golden age for book acquisition, and I’m enjoying every moment of it. So I thought it might be interesting to make a list of the many ways I acquire books as an adult, now that I’m a book blogger, the internet is a thing, and audiobooks are available on formats other than cassette tapes. So here goes:

1. Print books from independent bookstores: this is my favorite way to get books. I’m lucky to have two stores in my town that sell new books. (Recently bought: Nina MacLaughlin’s Hammerhead.)

2. From chain bookstores: For many, this is the best way to buy print books in person. My local chain store isn’t very good and I don’t go there much. But sometimes when I travel, I visit the local Barnes and Noble. (Recently bought: Mia Alvar’s In the Country.)

3. From used bookshops: Again, I’m lucky to have multiple used book shops in my area. They are a great way to build up a library cheaply. (Recently bought: John Keene’s Counternarratives.)

4. From online stores: I use Amazon and Powells mainly, but have used The Book Depository as well. (Recently bought: Joan Wickersham’s The Suicide Index.)

5. From the library: I check books out all the time, usually way more than I actually read. I get books from other libraries through inter-library loan as well. (Recently borrowed: Valerie Boyd’s Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston.)

6. As gifts: My family and friends do a great job at a very difficult task: selecting books I’m excited to read. I also help them out by keeping updated wishlists. (Recently received: Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence.)

7. Borrowed from friends: I don’t do this often, but occasionally I’ll borrow a book from a friend (and I’m always careful to give it back!). (Recently borrowed: Meghan Daum’s anthology Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids.)

8. From library book sales: I love me a library book sale, where I can head home with a towering stack of books for $20. (Recently bought: Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys.)

9. Bought from book events (readings, talks, panels): I love getting to meet my favorite authors in person, whenever I can make it happen. You can bet I’ll be at Book Riot Live this year, ready to buy some books and get them signed. (Recently bought: Heidi Julavits’s The Folded Clock.)

10. From Bookmooch: I’m not an active Bookmooch member anymore, but I used to acquire and also give away dozens of books through their site. (Not so recently mooched: Victor Lavalle’s The Ecstatic.)

11. Advanced reading copies (ARCs) directly from publishers: As a book reviewer and blogger, I sometimes ask for and usually receive either ARCs or finished books so I can write about them. (Recently received: Mark de Silva’s Square Wave.)

12. ARCs from LibraryThing and Goodreads: Both websites have programs where you can request books and win them. I’m an occasional requester of Goodreads giveaways and a regular requester with the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. (Recently received: Cynthia Bond’s Ruby.)

13. Ebooks from online stores: I don’t buy many full-price ebooks, but occasionally I’ll want something badly enough and want it within seconds, and ebook buying is the way to make that happen. (Recently bought: Nick Flynn’s Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.)

14. Ebooks found through “daily deals” or similar: I subscribe to all the regular emails promoting ebooks on sale. This includes Book Riot’s own Deal of the Day, as well as emails from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Book Bub, and Book Perk. (Recently bought: Malinda Lo’s Ash.)

15. Ebooks from the library: I don’t check ebooks out of the library as much as I used to because of item #14 above and #16 below, but it’s still a great resource I’m glad is there. (Recently borrowed: Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.)

16. Ebooks from Scribd: I’m a Scribd subscriber: $8.99 a month for ebooks and audiobooks seems like a good deal to me, especially since I’m happy reading only a few per month this way, so their recently-imposed limits don’t cramp my style. (Recently read: Elisa Albert’s After Birth — which I loved so much I bought myself a print copy.)

17. Egalleys from Netgalley and Edelweiss: These are websites where reviewers, bloggers, and other readerly, bookish types can get ebook versions of books soon to be published. (Recently read: Alain Mabanckou’s The Lights of Pointe-Noire.)

18. Ebooks from Emily Books: I’m a proud Emily Books subscriber. They publish one ebook a month and focus on books by women, especially books with experimental and feminist leanings. (Recently received: Emma Jane Unsworth’s Animals.)

19. Audiobooks from library, digital: As with item #15 above, I don’t do get audiobooks from the library as often as I used to, but I’m still glad I can. (Recently listened to: Elissa Schappell’s Blueprints for Building Better Girls.)

20. Audiobooks from library, on CD: It’s been ages since I’ve listened to an audiobook on CD, but I used to listen them all the time before digital versions became easily accessible. (Not so recently listened to: all of Jane Austen’s novels.)

21. Audiobooks from Scribd: This is my main source of audiobooks these days. (Recently listened to: Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night.)

As you have probably guessed by now, my house is full of books. Funny how that happens! How about you — does this list look familiar? Any ways you get your hands on books that I don’t have listed here?