4 Monetary Tips to Reducing Your To Be Read Pile

Chances are you have one, and your friend, and your other friend, and of course I have one. They sneak up on you. When you first start reading, there might be one to three books in the pile and you read them and go out and get new books. Somewhere along the way they developed a mind of their own and have overtaken a whole place in your house: a table, a chair, the floor, a shelf, your car’s backseat, on top of your toilet, etc. Will they ever go away or are we doomed to keep them forever? Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for reducing your TBR pile while also reducing your new book strain on your wallet. Read on and be sure to tell me what you think!


1.    Book Budget –

With a book budget set in place and coincidentally in stone, you’re limited to the amount of new books you can purchase. Make sure you put less toward it than you think you need (this is the reduction part!)

Here’s a good equation for set up:

Take the low end price per book ($6 for mass paperback, $14 for trade paperback, $25 for hardback) and times it by (the average number of books you read in a month – 2 books).

How do you book budget? Share your tips with readers, leave a comment!

2.   Library –

Like PBS new books are usually on a waitlist. Put your name on it and read your TBR pile while waiting for the library to call you. When they call, go check it out and read it. The idea of forced waiting will help you reduce your pile and by not seeing the book physically sitting there begging to be read, you’re not thinking about it. Additionally, nobody can add it to your pile count either and that includes you!

3. Paperback Swap –

Paperback Swap is trading website for used books. Get new-to-you books while helping with your TBR pile by setting up an account. You get 2 free books by listing 10 of your own for trade. See, I’m nice, this isn’t so painful; I’m letting you get two books!

Now to reduce your pile only “purchase” books when you get credits from sending out your old books. This will drastically reduce your new books, unless you cheat and become a mega-swapper with 50+ novels on your trade bookshelf.

Also many of the new releases are on waitlist and by waiting for them to come to you instead of buying them right away you can enjoy them without feeling TBR pile guilt.

4.    TBR Buddy-

Get a TBR pile buddy. Between the two of you select books you want to purchase using tip #1. With two of you buying only half of your list (and later swapping books between you as you finish them) you can enjoy your whole list with less financial strain or guilt tripping. As I said before, your pile can’t guilt trip you if the books aren’t there. It’s a twist on that age old adage of if you can’t see it, it can’t see you.

Photo Credits: kencf0618

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  1. Susan

    I’m 1 of those readers that can’t part with their books & I don’t take them anywhere near the bathroom(Oh the horror)
    I have a pattern-of sorts:
    1. Buy a new print release from bookseller
    2. Buy a few romances from library usually 5 for $1
    Mind you some of these were released a few months ago so they’re relatively new(I found an awesome 1 this week) Muaw-ha-ha!!
    3. Instead of print books—I also buy e-books for my kindle

    Thus I’m saving trees with e-books, saving moving with the library & I’m happy in the process:)

  2. Susan

    Sorry..meant saving money–Not moving(Oooops)

    • Haha! I go to the library and scan newish books too. My library has a tiny shelf and cart with donated books that they don’t need. Lots of romance for 50 cents and series romance for 25 cents. Been collecting a ton of HQN Historical line that way. I think I’m up to 12? lol

  3. As a librarian, I highly recommend the library. 🙂 But I also recommend suggesting books for purchase. If you know you kind of like an author and they have something new out, suggest the library buy it. If the series or author is popular enough, it’s a good purchase for them. However, most libraries won’t by Harlequin or Silhouette because they’re hard to process and impossible to get as backlist.

    My TBR list is maintained by e-books, which are cheaper and easily transfered from desktop to laptop, and audiobooks. I love listening to books (depending on the reader) and find it’s a great way to ‘read’ something when traveling or walking.

  4. Now, this is something I don’t understand. Isabel, I know you said they’re hard to maintain and get backlist, but my library receives a lot of category book donations, how come most of them end up on the buy shelf instead of the book shelf?

  5. For those who really want to know what goes on in a library, continue reading. For those with the short answer: time, money, space. If a library doesn’t have all 3, category books printed monthly are hard to make arguments for to keep.

    Now for the log aswer:

    There are a lot of reasons, Keira. The largest is monetary. Just because the library isn’t buying the book doesn’t mean it’s free. Yes, we save on the cost of the book (or DVD or whatever) itself, which is great and I in no way mean to lessen the wonderfulness of donations, but it’s not 100% free.

    A kept donation takes staff time and supplies to add it to the collection. We have to search for the MARC (catalog) record and if no other connected library has it, we pay for it. OCLC charges about $1 per record which doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize we have to pay for records of books we buy as well. A year this could cost upwards of $25,000 depending.

    Then it has to be added with a barcode, a card pocket, the proper stickers for where in the collection it’s housed, and anything else it needs.

    Also it’s demand. In my library those books aren’t very popular. I did an experiment one year and kept a bunch and they rarely went out. I saw some being read in library but when I did inventory, they were either gone (stolen) or had never been checked out. Can’t make an argument for things not being used! (Our VHS on the other hand are still being checked out. Go figure!)

    Last, it really is ordering. Monthly books like category are nearly impossible to find after about 6 weeks. If it’s stolen, damaged, or whatever and needs replacing, it’s hard to buy it again. Sure, it might’ve gone out a dozen times, but replacing it is much, much harder. And if it’s part of a series, a lot of people aren’t going to read the rest of the series without that missing one.

    Circle like here’s what happens: Demand slackens; the author’s books aren’t checked out; they get weeded and placed in the book sale; when a new book comes out and the author checked in the catalog we either have nothing or her books haven’t circulated well. So then we don’t buy them.

    So remember: If your favorite author isn’t a NYT bestseller or some other well known writer, make sure you check out their books. Reading them in-library is great, but doesn’t tell staff what’s being used and what isn’t!

  6. Sherry Thomas wrote about this issue at Dear Author too. That’s really too bad about the category books. What about regular full length romance and ebook romance? Do they have the same problems — well ebooks yes, and potentially more b/c well they’re not in print format.

    I have 2 books on hold at the library here’s hoping they call me in the next few days!

  7. Regular full-length books are fine. Again, they have the same issues as all books, really. If they don’t go out new releases aren’t necessarily purchased unless someone puts in a suggestion for it.

    Ebooks are impossible. Unfortunately! They can’t be regulated or ‘checked-out’ therefore there’s no way we can purchase them. We do have an audiobook company (there are 2, we had the first, decided to go with the second because we shared costs). You can download the audiobook to your computer or iPod or MP3 player and listen on your own. Unfortunately with this new company, on most books onl 1 person can check it out at a time. Like a book with only 1 copy in the library.

    I hear they’re talking about doing this for ebooks, but with so many companies, licensing agreements will be a pain and I can’t imagine anyone brave enough to take that on.

    We don’t have the Kindle, either, because Amazon isn’t pro-library and they’re afraid they’ll lose money. Sony, I haven’t heard if they feel the same way, but cost of the eReader (and Kindle) is prohibitive to lending it out.

    I hope this clears some of it up at least!

    Ohh, which 2 books?

  8. Really? I so want my library to do that with audio. Most of our audio are books I would never check out or are really old novels. I’ve checked out the Harry Potter series by audio but that’s about it.

    The two books are the Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie and to Beguile a Beast. I also put in a request for Lost in Austen as a new DVD addition b/c of the online reviews. I’m on their call list when they finally do add it (if they add it).

  9. We used to use NetLibrary but they lost the licensing rights to all Recorded Books books, and now use Overdrive. Ask about it, can’t hurt! And if the price is split among several libraries, so much the better. 🙂 Which is what we do. Harder to get new bestselelrs, but good that we don’t have to pay for all of it.

  10. Thanks for all that useful stuff about libraries, Isabel. Harlequin books edited out of the Richmond (UK) office are issued in special hardback library and hardback library large print editions in the UK and are hugely popular.

  11. I bought an ereader. The books are cheaper and you don’t have storage problems.

    I really must use the library though.

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