The Book Buying Dilemma: Go Local or Global?

As you guys know from our previous post, 10 rules for living with a book collecting sci-fi nerd, Mr NW is a pretty avid collector of books. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you guys this hobby can get quite pricey quite quickly. Not as bad as skiing or building miniature railroads but it definitely adds up.

The dilemma is that it would be lovely to support our local independent bookshop, but you know you are going to be spending more. That’s fine for a book or two, but really adds up at the rate Mr NW expands his collection.

And our local bookshop is really difficult to get to. I know that’s not their fault but it doesn’t help.


It’s like minesweeper but with roadworks!

But buying from the global mega corporation Amazon (who own the Book Depository) gives you a lot more bang or books for your buck, with the added bonus of avoiding the never ending road cones.


Artemis by Andy Weir – Paperback

All prices in NZD

Local Independent Bookshops: $33 – 37

National Chain Stores: $29

NZ based online retailer: $27 (shipping extra)

The Book Depository: $24 (free shipping)

For comparison, Amazon ebook: $10.50

I pretty much just order ebooks but Mr NW needs a physical copy so he pretty much always orders from The Book Depository.

If ordering online saves $10/book and Mr NW buys 25 books a year, he saves the equivalent of 10 books. Oh dear, hopefully Mr NW doesn’t read this and use this logic to increase to buying 35 books a year.

Now, the thrifty people out there would say why not just use the library? It is a good point, the library is a great resource. I’ve rented ebooks from the library and it’s great if you are happy to wait for your book of choice to become available. Not so great for new releases because they tend to have a long wait list.

I haven’t mentioned secondhand books here because we haven’t had much luck and secondhand books are surprisingly expensive here. When we stumble across a secondhand book shop Mr NW often searches the (often tiny) science fiction and fantasy section without anything catching his eye. A lot of the secondhand bookshops aren’t open on the weekend so that limits options too.

So yeah, for the most part we just buy from wherever will give us the best deal.

Do you have a philosophy on book purchases? Do you buy from your local bookshop?


27 thoughts on “The Book Buying Dilemma: Go Local or Global?

  1. I am dealing with some frustrating postal issues with a used book order I placed online, so that’s currently souring my opinion of online book buying. Overall, though, I shop locally as much as possible, even if it does cost a little more.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My current issue is that the sender messed up my address on the shipping label, and so the post office just sent it back to them. So it’ll be at least a week and a half before I’ll see them. I could have driven there, picked them up, and driven home with them by now…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Mrs NW, as you may have heard in the news the UK is splitting from the rest of Europe and there is a lot of upheaval and uncertainty. Well that means the price of goods is beginning to creep up and money is tight here, so I like to try and find good reads at my local Charity Shops. I recently got a paperback copy of The Force Awakens which has an R.R.P. of £8.99 for £1.50 and the Star Wars Ultimate Visual Guide, normal price £14.99 for £2! (I understand the Guide isn’t a novel but it’s still a Sci-Fi read)
    If you can build up a good relationship with the staff then they are usually quite helpful and put titles to one side that you may be interested in if you ask. Even if you pay the charity an extra pound the books are still a bargain and you are helping other less fortunate folk out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow those are excellent bargains! Ah good old Brexit. That’s interesting to hear the impact is already starting to be noticed. My mother has a knack of being able to find great deals at charity shops but I don’t seem to have picked it up! She’s forever finding good quality items for a dollar or two. Half the kids’ clothing has come from St Vincent’s or Red Cross. The book sections seem to be 99% romance novels unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe there is just a bigger Geek and Nerd culture here in the Outer Rim of the UK! I mean that in a good way of course, but I think I may be one of the few people that are confident/cheeky enough to ask the shop assistants to keep their eyes open for titles for me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m American, but I mix it up. I have a library down the street (practically) but I have so many books already on my shelf that I can’t justify borrowing more. They’d probably just get lost! 😛 Also, I tend not keep up with new releases so my focus is very different.

    I get the vast majority of my books from friends, thrift stores/second-hand shops, and cast-off piles. Here, books in a thrift store regular go on-sale for $1 or less, regardless of the title so I am very lucky. Granted, most of them are romance novels and out-dated cookbooks, but once in a while I find gold 😉 Like Dune! for 50 cents! :-O I am concerned about the environment and try to limit purchasing new books to stave off the production of new material (it’s not to save the globe from Amazon boxes, I buy enough else from them to negate that).

    When I do buy new, I try to keep it to books I already love because I’m not willing to drop >$20 on a book that will go on the bottom of my to-read pile. I try to buy new within normal price ranges to support my local store, but sometimes only Amazon has what I am looking for. I also buy few books new so the price is less of a concern for me.

    Well-timed question, though! Black Friday here has become associated with the “shop local” movement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mixing it up is definitely a great way to go. I think we will try to have that approach.

      I didn’t even catch on to the the Black Friday thing 😂 – though I did notice two shops here trying to have a Black Friday sale which makes no sense. Next thing we’ll be having 4th of July sales.

      Second-hand shops that don’t specialise in books (like a Red Cross Shop) are your best bet here for a cheap buy (usually a couple of dollars) but you have to be pretty lucky to spot something good. Why is it that the people who have good taste never donate their books? Haha. Actual second hand book shops often try to sell them for close to the normal retail price.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Almost all my books I got at this one store franchise thing, buy 3 for R100 (South African Rand, roughly worked back to Euro €10). I know my fianceé gets certain books on ereader and if she likes it, she will get a physical copy of it later.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mostly online, as Belgian bookshops don’t carry lots of English SFF titles, and neither do our libraries. But there is a great used store in Antwerp with lots of English SFF titles, so that’s my second most important source.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting. I hadn’t even thought of having to deal with language issues. That must be a problem for lots of people. I’ve noticed we don’t get much of a SFF selection here, just the really popular titles. Is it the same where you are?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, some bigger bookshops have English SFF but that’s mainly Terry Pratchet, Robin Hobb, Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Asimov, Dune, PKD, Peter Hamilton, Neuromancer, some Kim Stanley Robinson maybe if we are lucky, and obviously The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc. In short, the established classics and the recent books of popular authors.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. After my last foray into buying local and the absolutely abysmal attitude of the staff, I pretty much buy through amazon. We do havea Barnes&Noble about 1/2hr away, so we’ll occasionally go to that. But they have to pay for that monstrous building they use and their prices reflect it.

    I only buy hardcovers, except for manga, and our bookroom is getting close to full. So buying a book now has the prerequisite that I KNOW one of us will read it again. We actually usually wait until the second read to confirm and then we buy it.

    When I was first glancing through your post, I saw the “minesweeper” pix and really thought you had posted some local version of it. Aye carumba!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, the road works are slowly improving. The population of cones has reduced from 50,000 to 10,000.

      When Borders arrived here they had massive stores, didn’t take long for them to go bust. I only buy a fairly limited range of books and I do tend to re-read them.

      Book room? I think that’s known as a library 😂. Mr NW is the same, loves the hard copy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We call it our book room and not a library because library, to both of us, has the connotation of just being books. The book room is the 2nd room in our condo and it’s pretty much the catch all for everything 🙂

        Messy as all get out!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. There aren’t very many local bookshops where I am unfortunately. I don’t tend to buy very many physical books so may be willing to buy from them if there was good service and I could find them.

    A lot of the time I find supermarkets have the best prices (even better than online occasionally) but the selection is limited.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The local library is my first source for all books, whether hard copy or ebooks. I have such a long list of books to read that I never mind waiting. If I decide I think I’ll reread the book repeatedly, I’ll buy the hard copy, usually a paperback version. Our “local” book shop is 15-20 min away and has very early hours, so I typically end up ordering from Amazon for ease (and price). Most of the ebooks I buy are from independent authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My list is starting to get pretty long too. Luckily I can borrow most of mine from Mr NW’s collection. I’m slightly embarrassed to go back to the library. Just yesterday I had to drop back a book that one of the children had torn to shreds. The librarian was lovely about it and said not to worry, these things happen with kids’ books but I still felt pretty bad.


  9. It depends. I think independent bookstores and chains can both serve their purposes. That said, I prefer to support independent bookstores. The used bookstore near me is where I buy much of my fantasy and science fiction literature, and other books in general. However, if I am looking for an obscure book I might go onto a chain store such as Amazon. If I am looking for a super obscure book I use Ebay or see if Powell’s (an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon) carries it. I’m just glad that we have so many options.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yeah I think to be honest, if you have a big appetite for books, then I think it’s best to just go for the cheapest option. Like you said, you can see the huge difference it saves when you buy a book online as opposed to from an independent place. It’s a shame there’s not such a good market for secondhand books over there though, cos that’s how I get the majority of my books.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I shop local when possible, with books I need to study from. Im picky when it comes to that. I have to have a physical book if im learning from it. If its a quick read, an ebook is the way to go. It’s just too convenient.

    Liked by 1 person

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