Libraries vs. Bookstores

December 16, 2010

Aside from buying one of those electronic reading devices, one of the greenest things you can do in your reading life is to get a library card. It’s free and one of my most favorite things ever. It might seem odd that I’d be touting the merits of libraries since I work at a bookstore. I can go on and on like the Titanic song about how I much I love public  libraries but I just want to focus on the most basic service they offer: lending books.

Readers are often asked which they like best- libraries or bookstores. And it makes it sound as though the choice should be exclusive. In a reader’s world, there’s room for both and each has their own pros and cons.

Libraries are great places to sample authors and their works without having to fork over some hard-earned cash. It’s not uncommon that you’ll find that book that you absolutely must have. That’s where bookstores come in. Sometimes the pages are just asking to be highlighted or underlined or personalized in a way that you can’t do to a library book- at least, you shouldn’t.

For those new releases and current bestsellers that you either want to read right now or at your own leisurely pace, the bookstore is where you want to be. You don’t even have to necessarily buy the book. Just read it there and then. If you’re willing to wait, libraries often get the same titles the same time but it’s the holds list that may try your patience. On the off chance the library does not have a particular title in their system, there’s usually also the option of suggesting a purchase.

Libraries and bookstores may have different sets of rules but, as long as they provide the books readers need and want, there’s no way I can choose between them.

Do you have a preference over the two? What are some things you love about each one?

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