From classics to comics, the GUG book team has made articles and reviews covering many types of literature. We are all unashamed bibliophiles. Today, we will answer these questions:
Where do you buy your books?
How have these places impacted your life?
What is your most valuable book resource?
By sharing our stories, we hope to spread the word about great places and companies that fellow bibliophiles will enjoy.
COOPER BARHAM’S ANSWER
To be frank, having a favorite place to buy books strikes me as a loaded question, because I find myself surprisingly short on simple answers. I suppose if we are being technical, my favorite “place” to buy books is Barnes & Noble.
I used to work at a B&N. I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere as a backdrop for wandering the aisles, sitting down to write, or discovering new worlds. It’s so comfortable and organized, it’s basically a love-letter to my heart. Yet, at the same time, B&N isn’t my answer. Too often I walk in that store, look around, and find so many books I know I will never have the time to read. I’ve spent money on books I’ve never read, and that’s depressing. That store is a universe of possibilities, one that is — for me — filled with many windows and few doors.
Because of this, my actual answer to this question is Audible. Because of the symmetries of my current lifestyle, coupled with an abominable reading speed on my part, audiobooks have proven to be more effective in scratching my novel-itch. I can listen to them on commutes, breaks, and even during work sometimes. Sure, I’m not always a fan of the voice acting, which I’ve learned fluctuates wildly in quality. However, the ability to listen at most times of the day and (more importantly) increase the rate of my reading speed has allowed me far more freedom and efficiency in my book consumption. As a writer, I prefer reading hard-copies, as the words build themselves differently in my mind, but as a reader, the audiobook industry is simply easier and more productive.
Since discovering Audible, my number of completed books has over tripled compared to previous years. The only time I refer to physical copies anymore are the instances where I get a book for a gift, or it’s not available as an audiobook and shows no signs of being made into one anytime soon.
ELORA POWELL’S STORY
When I first moved to Moody Bible Institute, right smack in the city of Chicago, I was seventeen and had never lived in a major city before. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about venturing outside the confines of our campus — especially after all the safety talks they gave at orientation.
A bookstore, Open Books, stood right across the street from the central plaza of Moody’s campus. Towards the end of my first month of college, I worked up the courage to cross the street (gasp) by myself (gasp again) and go into the bookstore. After the initial shock over the fact that I hadn’t been mugged or kidnapped on the way, I started to fall in love with the store. I hadn’t experienced many indie used bookstores other than Powell’s Books (which is a little bit of an anomaly, as it spans an entire city block).
Open Books wasn’t like that. It was one cozy little room. The dark floorboards creaked as I wandered through the maze of colorful bookshelves and cozy sitting spaces. A dreamy smell of decaying paper filled the whole place. The science fiction section was decorated with models of pop culture’s most famous spaceships and was well stocked with everything from paperback classics to Star Trek tie-in novels. A good deal of the books I’ve reviewed for Geeks Under Grace have come from Open Books.
Slowly, I became more bold. By the end of the year, I went to Open Books to study and browse at least twice weekly, and was on a first-name basis with some of the employees and volunteers.
I’ve done a lot of growing up in between those colorful shelves. I’ve almost fallen asleep in their cozy chairs trying to make it through sixty chapters of the Bible for an Old Testament report. I started my comic book collection there. I’ve written bits and pieces of novels and short stories. I’ve learned how to talk to people who have the same interests as me and to people who are totally outside the Christian bubble of Moody Bible Institute.
Now, I volunteer at Open Books myself.
You see, the cozy bookstore I’ve grown to love is only the tip of the iceberg. Open Books Ltd. is a non-profit dedicated to promoting literacy throughout the Chicagoland area. Hundreds of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of books pass through the organization each month to help the most under-resourced schools, students, and teachers in Chicago. Open Books hopes to inspire people — particularly young people — to love reading and writing by giving them access to books, instruction, tutoring, and inspiring programs. It fills a gap in a city in which the public education system is in deep need of reform. I never would have expected that crossing the street to check out a bookstore would be one of the main catalysts that got me out into and engaged with the city that I now love so much.
CADI MURPHY’S TIPS
Price matters. If I am buying books for myself, I usually don’t want anything fancy and I don’t want to pay more than I have to. Spending less money on one book means I will have more money to buy MORE BOOKS! Used books don’t bother me; I will take anything in readable condition.
If you feel the same, let me introduce you to ThriftBooks.com. They sell used books for awesome prices, and shipping is free if you spend over ten dollars. That beats Amazon Marketplace and AbeBooks.com almost every time. I signed up for the free ThriftBooks rewards program, so now I save even more.
ThriftBooks is best for finding classics and books that have been out for a while. I have been using it to build my collection of classics; it is growing faster than I can read them! You can find newer books on the site, but those prices are usually comparable to an unused version.
When I need a new book (for myself or for a gift), I love going to Books-A-Million. Great prices — even a whole section of discounted books — has me browsing for hours. On top of all the books, they have loads of fandom merchandise. The atmosphere of the store is decidedly geeky.
If you are a book addict and you need a fix, definitely find out if you have a BAM in your area. Then sign up for ThriftBooks.com. Your bookshelf will be packed in no time!