To read or not to read? That is the question many people are puzzled with for 2 reasons: one a concern about whether it’s worth the effort and time, and the other concern is about whether it’s worth the money.
So, is spending your money on books worth it or not?
Spending money on books is worth it and is considered a good investment when it’s need to your job, you buy the right number of books, you actually read and use them, when it’s cheaper than courses, and when you gift them. It’s not worth spending money on books when you have Abibliophobia, dusty book syndrome, and when you’re not using books right.
Content Covered Today:
When spending money on books is worth it
There are 5 situations in which spending money on books is worth it and considered normal
1- When books are needed for your job
When your job requires many books and frequent reading to do, then it’s wise to spend on books because it’ll payback in your career promotion and skills sharpening.
Examples to this would be if your job is reviewing books for your audience. In that case, buying books to review them is needed to do your job well.
Another example could include being a physician and needing to update yourself with the latest discoveries through journals and updated books versions. Also, buying these books is needed to advance your career.
2- When books are actually used
If you’re using the books you’re buying, then your money spent is being put into good use. According to our rules of reading, this means that if your goal is to have more information or joy then more reading is required, while if your goal is self-development centered, then less reading is needed and more practice is required.
3- When the right number of books is bought
Using the same rules of reading above, when buying self-help books, then fewer books are needed, and ideally I coach people to practice a book for 1-3 months before moving to the next one, so this means around 4 self-help books a year is more than enough.
The story is different however when it comes to journals and novels, cause more reading is required in this case, so more tools and factors need to be included in determining the right number of magazines/journals and novels per year.
4- When it’s the better investment (dollar for dollar)
Another situation when spending money on books is worth it, is when you think of it as an investment to the money, time, and effort put into reading that.
As of publishing this article, the book “mindset: new psychology of success” by Carol Dweck costs around $9 paperback. While if you searched for courses about same topic “Mindset” in Udemy for example, you’ll find them cost over $200.
This means that if you want to learn about “Mindset”, buying a book is the best investment dollar to dollar.
So, what if you can’t find courses for a certain book to measure its value, I’d say that paying up to $20 on books is worth the investment if you’re interested in the topic.
The way I see it is that best case scenario, it’ll upgrade your skills and knowledge, worst case scenario is that you’ll learn nothing from it, and you would have lost only $20, and in most cases, you’ll learn a thing or two from it, so your money isn’t totally wasted.
5- When giving books as gifts
Books are one of the greatest and cheap gifts you can give to someone, provided that this is what the other person is really into.
Otherwise, if you’re sending your non reader wife a book titled “how to listen, how to speak”, she’ll translate that into “Honey, you don’t know how to listen nor how to speak and this is how you can improve”, next thing you know, you have a pan for a head.
When spending on books is unwise
Now let’s talk about situations where spending money on books is not worth it at all. There are 3 situations where you need to avoid spending money on books and instead save it or invest it
1- Books’ addiction
Being a book addict is one of the situations where spending on books should be controlled. This is when you constantly buy books whenever you have the chance, for fear of running out of something to read which is also known as Abibliophobia.
If you identify yourself in this category, then spending more money isn’t advised and alternatively it’s better to save it or invest it.
2- Dusty books syndrome
Millions of books are being generated each year with thousands in each genre and this is making it easy for many of us to buy more than we can actually read.
This is what I call the dusty book syndrome, which is having more books than you can read, either because you have Abibliophobia, or because you’re a relatively slow reader so you always end up buying more books published faster than you finish the old ones.
3- Not using them right (Mainly Self-help books)
Referencing to the rules of reading highlighted above, if you’re reading for self-development purposes, then less reading is required which translates to less books. Buying more books in that case is money wasted that could’ve been saved or invested.
You can find more details about why self-help books sometimes don’t work for you as you expect
How to spend wisely on books and still save money
Reading books are one of the most common hobbies people adopt around the world and it has some spending attached to it as discussed above. That’s why it’s mandatory to keep the spending on this hobby under control. Below are 7 tips you can use to spend money on books that matter while still being able to save part or all of its cost.
1- Use them right: rules of reading
As agreed above, depending on your purpose for reading, less books might be the optimum way to go about it like when reading for self-development purposes. If you understood that, then you’ll be saving the money for the extra books.
The ideal number I coach is about 4 self-help books a year, 1 book each quarter. You read it in a week or so and take the remaining time applying what you’ve learnt from it.
2- Buy used books
Another way is to buy used books and refrain from buying new books, specially if you’re reading to a new author or about a topic that you’re not sure you’ll like.
3- Buy books using savings from spare change
Instead of buying books with money you have, you can buy them from the money you saved in advance. Let me translate that. If you normally buy books from money you deduct from your salary, instead, aim to save money from your spare change and when you have saved enough, go and buy your book and it’s better to be the used version like in the above tip
4- Use library
Libraries can be an amazing choice to gain the knowledge that you’re looking for while saving money at the same time. The downside here could be not having all the newly published books and not in every genre, but at least you’ll be covered with 95% of books.
5- Borrow books
Borrowing books from friends or family can be of huge benefit of learning or enjoying yourself while saving time at the same time.
6- Exchange books
If you’re reluctant to the borrowing idea above or feel shy to ask for books with giving nothing on return, then you can apply the exchange tip.
Here you can ask for books to borrow and offer some books you already have in exchange for those books. Now it’s a win-win for both you and the other party in terms of learning or having good time and saving money.
7- Watch talks or listen to podcasts
Watching talks or listening to podcasts talking about the topic you’re looking to read about is another great way to learn while saving money spent on books.
It works specially if you’re not certain that the topic you’re buying books about worth knowing or not. I use this method when looking for a book that has a talk about it, specially Google talks.
Last time I did that was when I was hesitant to have the book “why we sleep” and I found a talk by the author at Google, so I listened to it first to make up my mind.
How much money to spend on books before it’s too much
In my classification to reading I have 3 purposes for reading and therefore 3 categories one can read in:
Informational reading when you’re looking for more information to pass a test or a grade like with schoolbooks, magazines, journals, etc.
Joyful reading when you’re looking for having good times like with novels or stories.
Self-development reading when you’re looking to transform yourself in a specific area like with reading self-help books.
According to Lakin C.S from theselfpublisher.com, paperbacks books, on average, run between $9.99 and $19.99 depending on the genre and whether it’s nonfiction or fiction. I’ll use the $20 as the maximum for the below calculations.
For self-help books as explained above, I always coach to read around 4 books a year and if the maximum book costs around $20 then you’re looking at $80 a year for self-development books.
When it comes joyful reading however, I always coach to have an average of 1 book/novel per month, provided that it’s saved for in advance. This makes it around $250 a year for science fictions and novels.
For informational reading, I always coach to have as many as you need to upgrade your level or career because buying for books is cheaper compared to taking courses. Also, generally speaking, you’ll only need to buy a handful of books. That’s why we can give it around $100 per year for this type of reading.
- Books are worth investing in and like any investment, it has to be done in the right circumstances. This means spending on the right number of books according to your purpose of reading, the right type of books according to your needs, and using the cheapest way possible that yields higher returns on investments
- Average spending on self-help books per year is around $80
- Average spending on novels per year is around $250
- Average spending on informational reading is around $100 per year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of reading books?
- Learning new information at ease and being able to incorporate it into your own life. I call this “informational reading” and books used for this are usually magazines, journals, and newspapers.
- Entertainment or what I call “joyful reading” and books used for this are novels, and biographies.
- Improving yourself buy learning how to transform yourself in a particular area from another person who experienced that himself. I call this “self-developmental reading” and books use
What are the benefits of buying physical books?
There are 7 benefits of buying physical books compared to the digital copy:
- You can engage with the book by writing, highlighting, or taking notes on it.
- You can access the book whenever and wherever you want to if you’re carrying it with you.
- You can finish reading the book at your own pace.
- Reading through physical books is a healthy practice to disconnect from screens.
- You can read or use the book as many times as you want to.
- You can share the book with someone else to spread the knowledge.
- You can gift the book to someone.
What are the benefits of buying books on Kindle or buying e-books?
There are 4 benefits of buying e-books or Kindle books compared to buying physical books:
- It’s more convenient to buy online than physically walking or driving to the nearest bookstore.
- It’s cheaper than paperback or hardcover books
- For some people it’s easier this way to access the book through devices like phones, tablets, laptops, or Kindle than carrying the actual book with them.
- Ability to engage with the book using editing options in the digital programs.