How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Eat the Elephant is an irregular column on productivity and project management. You can read more articles in the series here, or subscribe to the RSS feed for the series here.
The ongoing lament is that people use brick-and-mortar bookstores as a showroom for Amazon, looking over a physical copy of a book and then ordering it online cheaper. I have an alternate pitch for you. Use your library as the showroom instead.
First, most libraries get funding based on use; the more people checking out books, the more money they get to keep buying books, paying their staff, and generally keep their doors open. Libraries are good. We like libraries. We want them to survive. So use the library. If you’re interested in a book, see if the library has it. Get on a waiting list. If they don’t carry it, request it. They might buy it, they might be able to get it from another library through inter-library loan.
When you get the book from the library, you can read it and determine if you really, truly need to own it. You’re saving money! Because it has to be returned, it also instills a sense of urgency to read it before the due date. If you can’t get yourself motivated to do so, it would probably be sitting around collecting dust if you bought it, too. You’re saving money!
If you do decide you really need to own the book, now go to the local brick-and-mortar bookstore and buy it. Sure, it’s cheaper on amazon, but think of all of the books you checked out of the library that you didn’t buy. You saved all of that money on those books, can’t you afford to spend a little more to keep the bookstore alive and stimulate the local economy? Sure you can.
The library doesn’t carry it? The bookstore doesn’t have it? See if the bookstore can special order it. Sure, it’s cheaper on amazon, but again think of all of the books you checked out of the library that you didn’t buy.
So you’ve helped save the library, save the bookstore, and saved your money in one fell swoop. Good on you! Save Amazon for the esoteric stuff the library doesn’t carry and the bookstore can’t get, or can’t get quickly when you truly need it fast.