Hello My Name is Sarah and…

… I’m a compulsive book buyer. (Hi, Sarah.)

This is something I’ve suspected about myself for a while, mostly because I can’t walk by a bookstore without going inside. Or, if I really do have somewhere to be and don’t have time to go inside, I’ll slow down my pace so I can least linger in its aura.

This week, however, is when the label “addict” first entered my brain. You see, I was walking by the Strand and well, one thing led to another… I ended up finding Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles on their $1 rack and got VERY EXCITED. The cover was pretty awesome looking and it had that “old book” smell. I knew it had to be mine. So I bought it (along with a book that was more than $1…) and brought it home. Only, when I went over to the sci-fi section of my bookshelf, I found, exactly where Bradbury was supposed to go, a copy of that very same book.

The one I already owned also looked pretty beat up, but it had a different cover that wasn’t nearly as fun. Still, I imagine I once found it at a thrift store and had much of the same reaction go through my head. So, now I have two copies of The Martian Chronicles. This is not the first time this has happened to me.

My first accidental duplicate was Coming Up For Air by George Orwell. I bought a new copy at a Barnes and Noble about two years ago because I hadn’t read it yet (at the time), but then when I brought it home I found a small, ripped up, identically titled copy (the cover was literally hanging off of it) that I immediately liked 100 times more than my character-less new copy.

As far as compulsions go, buying books is hardly debilitating. It can get expensive, but that’s my problem, right? I’m not hurting anyone but me. I can quit any time I want. You’re not the boss of me!


Have “accidental duplicates” happened to anyone else? I can’t be the only bibliophile out there who buys so many books that I don’t even know what I have anymore. Please share with me.

We don’t have to go through this alone.

22 thoughts on “Hello My Name is Sarah and…

  1. I have multiple copies of Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – every time I see it I buy it. This is the book stolen most regularly from my class at school. I think that is a good thing, sort-of!


  2. I have three Anna Kareninas, but they are different translations, so they're all faintly different. It's my favorite book of all time!

    On another note, I was recently at my sister's cottage & my daughter and I got the guest cabin (I use the word cabin loosely – it has heated floors!) Anyway, on the bookshelf was Pierre Trudeau's autobiography, so I read it while I was there. My sister saw me reading it, and said, “Did you see it was signed?” I looked & saw that it was personalized to my brother-in-law.

    I have to admit, I was amazed (Trudeau was Canada's Kennedy).


  3. I can't help myself, either! I keep books-to-be-read on my nightstand, but they don't all fit, so they're stacked on the floor. At this point, I could use them *as* a nightstand. The annual San Francisco Public Library Book Sale doesn't help–a WAREHOUSE FULL OF BOOKS TO BUY! Last year I got lots of duplicates there because I found hardbacks of some of my favorites (a couple of William Gibson's) and a signed copy of Neverwhere. And yet I still buy more books. They're just so shiny!


  4. I do this ALL THE TIME.
    I went shopping for a birthday present yesterday, gave myself a stern talking to that included NO PERSONAL SHOPPING and what did I buy? Three books and two pairs of jeans and a toe ring.

    But whenever there's a bookstore I can't help but go in.

    It would be a crime not to…


  5. Definitely not alone on this, Sarah. Just last week I discovered I had two copies of Trouble is my Business. I've done that with quite a few books, and then there are the ones I've intentionally bought duplicates of. Different translations of Beowulf or Homer can be somewhat excused, but dedicated shelf, read, and lending copies of Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time? I've got it bad, and while I've tried to pare down, I will never, ever, let go of my Preciousesessesssesss.


  6. This is one of the most awesome Blog posts I’ve ever read! You are not alone. I have bookshelves filled with books and piles of books stacked on the floor of my home office. I buy books of all kinds: books from both the major publishing houses and indie presses, signed copies of books by authors I’ve met in online writers’ communities, hardcovers, paperbacks and eBooks. With so many books, I’ve accidentally bought multiple copies of certain books, and sometimes bought multiple copies on purpose. Through Orson Scott Card’s website, I discovered an online company through which signed special editions of books by many well-known authors are available, some at very reasonable prices. I bought several of those books, even if I already owned regular editions. When I received a Kindle as a gift, I thought my book-buying problem had been solved. When I accidentally tried to buy the same book twice, the Kindle alerted me to the fact that I already owned a copy. Even though I thoroughly enjoy reading on the Kindle, I find that I miss the fun of going into a real bookstore to buy books and am thinking about buying hardcover or paperback copies of my most favorite Kindle books. I’ve also discovered that Kindle makes it so easy to buy books, I’ve purchased way more books on Kindle than I would normally buy in a store. I really do love books!

    I also love movies. When I discovered that I had started buying multiple copies of the same movie DVDs because I didn’t remember what I already owned, I spent an entire month alphabetizing my movie and TV show DVDs.


  7. Had three copies of The Great Gatsby as well as two copies of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. How did I collect duplicates and triplicates? I dunno. What to do with them? Kept one copy each and donated the classical lit to friends who hadn't read them.


  8. I too am a compulsive book buyer and I duplicate all the time. When I find duplicates, if they aren't at all different, I just give one of the copies away. Having just moved, which also required packing and unpacking my books, I would like to work on my book buying problem. I'm so happy to have an e-reader. It makes my book problem far easier to deal with in many ways.


  9. Hahaha, I am also a duplicate book buyer. Most often, I will go to the library book sales in my county and bring home 15 grocery bags of books (each for $2-$3) and will find a few duplicates either among the books I took or among the books I already have.

    And the same goes for bookstores. I never, ever have walked out of a bookstore without a book-whether new or at a discount.


  10. I'm a compulsive book buyer too, and I work in a bookshop. It's not much point slaving away at work when I end up spending more money on books than I earn on any given day…

    I have done the duplicate thing a couple of times, usually by accident (and occasionally with love). Most recently I bought a copy of R. Mistry's “A Fine Balance” since I had heard such good things about it. When I put it in my bookshelf, however, I noticed that I already had the exact same version of the same book sitting there… Fortunately I have a friend who tends to do the same with CDs, so it's a nice trade-off.


  11. Oh, yes, I end up with multiples of the same book. Most recently it was How To Write a Damn Good Novel II. But I gave my extra copy to a friend who writes–she loved it so it was win-win.


  12. I know exactly what you mean. I, too, am a compulsive book buyer. The best and worst time of the year for me is when my local library has their Friends of the Library book sale. From Saturday-Thursday, I enjoy buying books. Yes, I'm supporting the library, I tell myself, but it can get pricey. And, just wait for box day. A day when I can load up box after box of books.

    Here is where most accidental duplications occur. I get so excited to see all those books that I sometimes just start grabbing and stuffing. One year, I had three copies of the same book in my box because I didn't realize I kept picking up the same book. I've gotten a little wiser over the years, since I created my book list of every book in my room. It helps, but even then I still find duplicates. And, I just can't help myself about copies of Sherlock Holmes books. I like collecting them. *blushes*


  13. No duplicates, but I did do a quick count last night of the unread books currently collecting dust on my shelves, and the total was a staggering 75. Considering I'm a slow reader–I average a book per month in a good year–that means both my children will be in grade school before I've cleaned out my queue, so to speak. This is especially disconcerting considering my daughter is only 3, and we haven't even gotten around to making the second kid yet. This also assumes that I won't buy any more books until those 75 have been read, and we all know THAT ain't happening.

    I'm so depressed, I need to go pre-order the new Stephen King, just to cheer myself up.


  14. Oh, gosh. I feel your pain, Sarah. My books are reaching critical mass so I've been trying to sort them out. I can keep the ones I know I'll read again but the rest have to go to the charity shop. Of course I'm re-reading everything so I can keep them, which defeats the object, I know.

    It's an addiction made worse by the fact that I like to adopt secondhand books, too. I bought this recently for 99p http://i44.tinypic.com/a293ww.jpg I already have it, but how could I resist? It looks like a Harlequin Romance!


  15. I bought two copies of The Metamorphosis this year. One was a $10 copy from B&N. The second was from Amazon.com after I realized “I still haven't read that book, and I remember wanting to.”


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