December 2016
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TSS: Becoming a Consumer (of Books)

With books and with plenty of other things, I often feel like I’m still a poor student. But as I’m nearing the finish of my first year of working (and marking it by attending my very first marketing event AND giving my first presentation on SEO with my boss), I’m very quickly realizing that I’m not, and that my money has power because I can decide what I do with it.

I’m in a relatively good position; my husband and I are both employed and we make enough money together to pay all of our bills, all the time, as well as eat and drive a car, and then we even manage to have some left over for both savings and leisure money. I know we’re not particularly rich, and a hefty bill still has the power to push us over the edge, but we’re both enjoying not having to stretch any pennies in any directions they don’t want to go and working on never having to do that again.

As evidence of our affluence, we’ve even managed to save up for a shiny new desktop computer, and I am now buying books on a regular basis. Rather than going for limiting the TBR or number of books purchased, I’ve just given myself a certain amount of money for books every month, so I’m relatively free to get whatever I want, even if it’s stupidly expensive.

This brings up, naturally, questions of just where to spend that money. How can I make it work hardest for the things I believe in? And this is where the biggest change has come in for me. I used to frequent charity shops and used bookstores all the time, hoping to acquire some wishlist books as well as those that just look interesting. I don’t do this any more, simply because if I’m buying books I want that money to go where it’s most valuable. I can go to the library for random finds, which I want to do to support them as well anyway. I donate to charities of my own free will, without depleting their book collections (and in fact bring them my discards).

For the most part, I buy new books, and I love feeling able to make that decision. It’s probably the one thing that has really signaled to me that I’m an adult now (that, and the fact that I can buy clothes from any section of the store I want, just because I like them – I never expected to enjoy that so much!) Books are my one hobby that costs money, so I take care to spend that money wisely. I do buy books online – I can buy more that way, and I want a LOT of books that my only local bricks and mortar bookstore, a puny W.H. Smith, doesn’t carry. There are no independents around that sell new books, so I’m limited in that respect, but I do try to buy from the actual bookstore especially now, even if the staff seems mainly employed to ask me if I want to buy chocolate with my books. To be fair, the local used bookstore isn’t any better – I’ve never seen the two employees even speak to a customer who isn’t actively buying something, but that isn’t really the point.

Anyway, the process by which I’m becoming a consumer, rather than someone who pinches every penny, has been quite fascinating to me. I love the privilege of deciding what I support and where I want my money to go. We never know what the future will bring, especially those of us who intend to return to academia at some point, so I’m going to enjoy making these decisions while I have the ability to do so – and I think considering where our money goes, especially on something we treasure as much as books, is a thought that everyone who is in a similar position should have.

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