Pressures of Consumerism on the Book Community

How many books do you own?

I’m sure a variety of numbers and “ifs” came to mind immediately. Maybe it’s 100, maybe it’s 1,000s BUT they’re E-books. But did you know the average person owns only 10 books?

Now how did that make you feel? Surprised? Horrified? confused as to how someone can own so few, yet children tend to have stack upon stacks?

Because me too. It’s something I’ve been looking at recently. Prior to me finding out about the book community in 2014, everything I read was either a random book my dad found in the store, a library book, or an ebook. In total physical books I probably owned about 15. And 7 of those were Harry Potter that my family collectively owned, and 4 were Twilight. Sometimes I’d convince my dad to buy me a book if the library didn’t have it. But that was an exception.

Then 2014 happened. Suddenly I found people showing off HUNDREDS of books. Telling ME about places where I can get 5 books for the price of 1. So obviously I did. I figured I’d read them all eventually, but I couldn’t stop the instant gratification that came with a purchase. Consumerism got the best of me, but as I kept buying, so did the rest of the online book community.

Book hauls because the best performing content pieces, people showing off books they’ll probably never read, publishers sending books to them unsolicited in hopes it’ll get shown off and they’ll get more purchases trickling in from followers. The publishing industry was thriving. Or do it seemed.

Come 2018. There’s more book related things than ever. There’s subscription boxes, merch, special editions, and book hails are still rampant. But something else is brewing. Book influencers started to make “unahuls” where they’re getting rid of books they’ll never read or didn’t like. Now those sales made from books that looked promising, lead no where. In marketing it would be like spending thousands of dollar on ads and seeing no ROI.

So the book industry did what consumerism has taught them to do. Make new programs, make prettier more pleasing products, find ways to make it feel exclusive to buyers. So they feel special and want to show it off. All for just the price of the book. Book hauls are still some of the best performing book content there is on the internet, because people LOVE them and want that instant gratification.

It goes so far some new people trying to break into the book community feel like they can’t join simply because they can’t afford to buy all the books they read. Or because they don’t have a wall of books, or because they read a book a month. This is chorused by others singing about buying more they’ll never read because it helps the authors. They’re giving them a living. Without ever stopping to think how much does it actually help to not read it? Returning customers count for so much, and if you don’t read their content why would you repeat purchase their content?

In addition, there’s a sense of gate keeping consumerism has created. It’s no longer enough to have a wall of books. They have to be hard cover, special editions, signed, etc.

But at the end of the day, we’re all here for the same reason. To read. So ignore the consumerism temptations. Read how you want.

I stopped buying every book I wanted to read in about March of 2020, and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I got rid of 150+ books in 2020 alone as well, and it felt freeing.

No more books staring at me that didn’t suit my taste, but I kept because I spent money on it, no more I wish I loved you more to the pages of disappointing books. No more keeping a book that I rated low because it’s pretty. Now I buy what I know I’ll like if it’s a series, or sometimes if I can’t get it from the library I’ll buy it. But everything else comes from there.

And I don’t feel any less a part of the book community for it. I participate here on the blog, watch all the booktubers I want, and interact on TikTok. And I have a great time! Sure I still get caught by consumerism, but it not longer has me in its clutches as hard as it once did.

6 thoughts on “Pressures of Consumerism on the Book Community

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  1. So glad you’ve found a system that works for you! It can be way too easy to get caught up in the hype and consumerism of the book community. I try to use my library as much as possible to keep my book numbers down but it’s also really good to reflect and consider what are good patterns for yourself, not for random people on the internet, not for views, but for what you actually want to read and surround yourself with. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This whole post was a preeeeach haha. I actually remember dreaming of owning like a huge library in my home but then after purchasing a ton of books through the books and have experienced hauling books during annual sales and even more so during the Pandemic last year. I did began to hesitate on actually “hording” so many books versus, owning books of stories that I didn’t even enjoyed after I read them. Since I began to slowly reduce my physically TBR, I have started to sell books that I personally couldn’t imagine myself rereading in the future. At the same time, I stopped buying books that are overly hyped or I didn’t feel like I should read it for the sake that other people tell me it’s good even though it’s still a 50/50 chance that I will love or hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! Lol. I feel this. I’ve honestly stopped reading hyped books in general for the most part because i don’t want to deal with fighting to get it from the library and not liking it. I wanted the room full of books but now i look at what i have And I’m just like hmm. Do i want any of you?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I live with a voracious reader and a nearly non-reader, so I’m only mildly surprised at the 10 books figure. I do wonder if they were only counting physical books, though, because I think there’s a lot more ebook readership these days.

    Liked by 1 person

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