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Jul 7, 2010

Justify Your Purchasing Habits

the fish swim to me
my basket is always full
a river of books

(Or: Why I shop for books on Amazon.)

I read on about this on Kristin Nelson's blog. A publishing house is asking writers who submit without an agent to show a receipt of a book they've recently purchased from a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Writers who cannot afford to buy a book or cannot get to an actual bookstore are encouraged to explain why in haiku or one sentence (100 words or fewer). Tin House Books and Tin House magazine will consider the purchase of e-books as a substitute only if the writer explains: why he or she cannot go to his or her neighborhood bookstore, why he or she prefers digital reads, what device, and why. Writers are invited to videotape, film, paint, photograph, animate, twitter, or memorialize in any way (that is logical and/or decipherable) the process of stepping into a bookstore and buying a book to send along for our possible amusement and/or use on our Web site."

I buy 99% of my books online. Usually, I still order a tree book; sometimes, I'll order an e-book. (I have a Kindle.) Publishers should be glad. I buy less books when I go into a book store, because I have to carry them. The weight is an uncomfortable reminder about how much money I'm spending. When I shop online, it's oh-so-dangerously easy to keep clicking away... I have about 400 items in my "Save For Later" Basket. It's embarrassing to admit how much I spend on books. Let's just say it's actually more than I can afford. If "Confessions of a Shopoholic" had been about a book-buying addition, that would have described me.

I also occasionally order books directly from the publisher, especially academic books.

Honestly, if I could make enough money to pay for all the books by other authors I purchase, I would be satisfied. Unfortunately, most advances aren't that high.

The picture is by the artist Mary McShane. Visit her gallery.

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