There ought to be a word for it: the morbid need to buy more books

buytbrIn the past twelve months, I’ve read a little more than eighty books.

In the same time period, I’ve bought more than 200 books.

This gives me a TBR (To Be Read) pile of 120+ books.

With an average consumption of seven books a month, I have a seventeen month supply of books. Which should mean that I won’t be buying another one until October 2016.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

I buy books every month. They call to me and I have to have them.

The logical part of me says that, even if I only buy one book a month (reducing my current purchase rate by more than 90%) I wouldn’t run out of reading material (now there’s a frightening thought) until the middle of February 2017.

The emotional part of me says that such a Draconian regime would be intolerable.

Which leads me to the conclusion that I have a morbid need to BUY books – there really ought to be a word for that.

The need to BUY is not directly related to my need to READ books. The compulsion seems to be about OWNING the book.

This seems to place me in the same relationship to books that a miser is to money. That is not a pleasant image.

I love books. Always have. Always will. So I can’t just want to hoard them in a dark place, running my hands over them from time to time, murmuring “Precioussssss”. Can I? TBRSo what is it that drives me to purchase so many books?

I think it’s partly a failure to adjust to changing circumstances.

At one time it would have been impossible for me to own more books that I could read: I read ALL the time, I had limited access to bookshops, no access to on-line bookshops and a very limited amount of money to spend. In those circumstances, being in a bookshop with money or, more likely, book tokens in my hand would have triggered a feeding frenzy that only stopped when the money ran out.

These days, I have 24/7 access to almost any book, my income has risen dramatically and the price of books has tumbled: by taking an annual membership with an undiscounted book cost my £4.58 ($6.85).

Another limiting factor used to be bookshelf space. Now, most of my TBR pile is not physical. I carry 80+ books with me on my little iPod with no physical reminder of just how high those books would stack.

It seems the only constraint on buying books now is my will-power.

So why don’t I have any?

Because there are so MANY good books and so little time.

Because so many of the good books are NEW and need to be read (or at least bought) right now.

Because I just HAVE to have every book in every good series in the right order.

Because I OUGHT to have enough time to read everything if life wouldn’t keep getting in the way.

Because, deep down, I’m afraid of missing something.

But mostly, I think this behaviour is the equivalent of comfort eating. Having a tough day? Buy a book and make it better. If buying a book had the same impact as eating something bad for me, I would have Type II diabetes by now.

So what am I going to do about it? Probably less than I hope but more than I have before.

  • I will increase the number of books I read.
  • I be more rigorous about adding books to my CNF (Could Not Finish) pile because each book I’m not enjoying is costing me time with one that I might love.
  • I will decrease my rate of purchase by adding to my Wish List rather than my Shopping Cart and deleting anything that’s been on the Wish List for nine months or more.

If that doesn’t work than I need to find or found a branch of Book-Buyers Anonymous.


2 thoughts on “There ought to be a word for it: the morbid need to buy more books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s