Why do we buy books?

An intriguing comment on Slashdot:

Why would I pay 8.00 for a paperback I know I'll probably only read once and then stick on a shelf or on a pile, when I can probably borrow the book for free from the Library? Psychology is fascinating...

Schopenhauer said it well: buying books would be great if we could also buy the time to read them. So, since we already know that we will never have that time then, maybe, we buy books to satisfy a certain sense of property. In other words, we get some sort of artificial brain sweetener. When I buy a book - I potentially know more.


Comments (13)

  1. Robert says:

    If we’re talking technical books, the ones I want to read are never available at the library. I’m not gonna pick up "Programming in Lisp" of "Office 95 for Dummies".

  2. Mike says:

    Even worse, why are there so few ebooks. Damn, we’re IT guys.

  3. David Smith says:

    Um. I love the books I have. They’re wonderful reference, and often go MUCH farther in depth on specific topics. As a college student, it’s well worth my money and time to invest in a good book.


    Inside C# 2


    Software Project Survival Guide

    Somebody who doesn’t find value in books is using the wrong books.

  4. SBC says:

    One of the reasons to buy books is to solve problems. In our technical IT field, if a book provides a programming or other technical solution then more than likely it pays for itself.

  5. I continue to buy books even if I seldom have the time to read them, mainly for one reason: I expect to use these books as references when I’ll need a specific information.

    Usually, after buying a book, I browse through its content whenever I have a few minutes (and, practically, that means mostly when I’m at, err, you know… THAT place where men sit and usually have deep thoughts about life, Universe and everything). Like most of us, I don’t really have time to read a book from cover to cover, but I can get a "general feeling" about its content just by reading a few chapters (or paragraphs).

    For some reason I have an excellent memory when it comes to remember WHERE I saw an information (even if I’ve forgotten the information itself).

    PS: Wi-Fi is nice for reading posts from that very same place I mentionned above…

  6. matt says:

    We have a local store called MicroCenter (they have a handful of computer stores around the country). I used to make the drive to see them at least once a month because they had the best computer book department in the world. We’re talking about rows and rows of books on every topic imaginable. Even engineering, math, and science books!

    I just found out that they are drastically reducing their book department. It will probably end up being about the size of what you see at Walmart. I guess they just don’t get enough business in book sales anymore. And I guess they won’t get as much business from me. 🙁

  7. The Phantom Knows.... says:

    Speaking not as a member of the modern American society but as an aboriginal, a lot of the books I buy are merely amulets of job security. The books are made by mighty witch doctors and contain great powers. If I keep enough of these in my bookshelves, and tend to them, they will bring me great prosperity.

  8. Dean Harding says:

    Well, if we’re talking about regular old paper-back fiction, I buy them because having bookshelves full of them makes me look more well-read than I actually am 🙂

    If we’re talking about computer books, then I don’t usually "buy" them, unless the company pays for them, because I always find it’s just as easy to google for answers as it is to look up some obscure reference I remember reading in a book 2 years ago…

  9. Adi Oltean says:

    I also don’t read too much technical books anymore (at least in my area). I thing the main reason was that the online documentation (MSDN, etc) is pretty good these days, at least compared with the one five years ago. And, frankly, I trust now MSDN more than a "must read" book like Essential COM or Inside Windows.

  10. "Asa cum fiecare dintre noi obisnuieste sa se spele, asa cum trupul nostru cere din cand in cand o igiena anume, ne putem intreba daca in ordinea spiritului nu cumva e nevoie de niste detergenti speciali, de sapunuri si parfumuri speciale cu care sa iti speli mintea… Cu alte cuvinte, nu numai trupul poate fi neingrijit, ci si spiritul are nevoie de o dieta. Dieta asta este, s-ar parea, cartea"

    Gabriel Liiceanu


  11. Ovidiu says:

    I don’t exactly recall where I’ve seen this, but a while ago there was some guy on a forum asking why he should buy books if he can easily find answers to all his questions by searching the web.

    Someone else replied that books help you find answers to questions that you never knew might exist.

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