First off, by the time you're reading this (I'm writing this post ahead of time! Genius), it will be my birthday! Woot!
I'm turning 18, which is such a big moment in my life. Financial independence, heftier traffic tickets, the ability to possess my own Costco card... the list of benefits goes on and on!
I'm also off to college, but by the time you're reading this, I'll already be there! That's a nerve-wracking thought. And a huge life change.
To celebrate my birthday, I'm going to the bookstore at my university's campus, where I will peruse shelves that probably look something like this:
I've been there before, and the shelves look nothing like that. But I couldn't find an accurate picture, so that will have to do.
I thought I'd talk a little about how my typical bookstore routine works.
My Typical Bookstore Routine
Step 1: The Displays
The first thing I typically do in bookstores is check out what's on display. I think books are (hopefully) displayed for a reason, whether by staff pick or by monetary influence, and I feel a need to check those out before I check by shelves.
Step 2: The Format
When shopping for books, I commonly rule out hardcovers, even if they sound really really good. Why, you may ask? Money. I don't know if you noticed, but I am a newly-christened college student, and if I can save money on a purchase, I will definitely do so. Part of these savings are from eliminating hardcovers from my shopping cart. I can't remember the last time I bought a hardcover book in a bookstore. If I really want a hardcover, I'll add it to my save-it-for-later list and get it online, where they're typically cheaper.
Step 3: The Used
At bookstores that sell used books, I'll often browse those sections before going for the shelves. Sometimes there are some really great finds hiding in the used sections! In bookstores where the used and new books are shelved together (like the particular bookstore I'll be at on my birthday), I'll only look at books with used stickers on them, then go back and look at all books.
Step 4: The Internal
A crucial (and weird) step for me that doesn't apply to most people is to check the typography. It's like judging a book by its cover, but worse and more odd. If the book of interest is written in an aesthetically pleasing font, I'll have more inclination to want to buy it. Most of the time, I'll pick up a book I've seen before, not even read the summary, and just flip through it, inspecting the internal layout and length. Which brings me to my next step:
Step 5: The Length
I am very wary of books that are too long. One of my worst reading pet peeves is when authors meander and stray and wander and talk around what they're trying to say, when they write unnecessary scenes that distract from the overall message of the book or introduce characters that have no point. Of course, not all long books are like this, but I've had too many experiences where there are solid 200-to-300-page chunks of absolute hair-pulling-out boredom in the middle of books. Shorter books give me more inclination to buy them. This is a weird one - I can't really say much more than I've already said.
Step 6: The Gathering
When I find books I like, I'll add them to my basket/stack. This is the stage of book buying most similar to writing to me: I go through and add things I like, not too concerned about the finished product. There are steps later to make a good stack.
Step 6: The Sacrifices
After I have a hefty stack going, or when I think it's completely illogical for someone to be holding as many books as I currently hold, I begin what is similar to the editing process, going through and picking out the ones that are absolute musts, the ones that are solid maybes, and the ones that I don't really need. And when I have a nice stack going, I'll check out and bring the books home.
This is my typical bookstore process! Am I completely weird? Do you have any of the same quirks (or problems, depending on perspective)? Let me know in the comments! (Even if you think I'm totally bizarre. It's okay. I need to know the truth.)