The price and pleasure of reading

Reading shouldn’t be an expensive hobby

BookTok is partly to blame for the increased price of printed books.

Reading is more than just a hobby—it’s a doorway to a boundless realm of imagination and discovery.

 The book that started my love for reading was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It was the first book I willingly picked off the shelf; it taught me to appreciate the power of storytelling. Since then, I have made a habit of picking up a new book whenever I have free time.

Reading allows me to use my imagination without limitation. When I’m reading, I envision the character’s bright smile, the tone of their voice, their style, and the intricate friendships and relationships that define their life. Each reader has a unique interpretation of, and personal connection to, a story, making each book a cherished piece in their literary collection.

Yet, there’s a cost associated with reading for pleasure, and the resurgence of reading as a popular hobby—particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown—led to an unforeseen surge in book prices.

In the past, customer reviews on bookstore websites were a consumer’s primary source for book recommendations. However, with the rise of influencers sharing their favourite reads and latest book hauls on BookTok, book recommendations are more available to the public than ever before.

BookTok allows reading to increase in popularity and provides a free platform for authors to market their books to wider demographics, leading people to purchase and recommend their books. BookTok gives smaller authors a better platform among a sea of well-established writers.

While BookTok’s influence undoubtedly helps books find their way to more readers, it has led to an increased demand for print publications. Publishing companies have capitalized on this newfound popularity, often raising prices by $1 to $5, sometimes even more.

Publishers capitalize on consumers by creating multiple editions of books, ranging from special collectors editions, anniversary covers, or bookstore exclusive editions, which are often more costly than older editions. This is in addition to the price difference between paperbacks and hardcovers, where hardcovers run at a higher price due to higher quality.

Though a minor price increase may not seem like a big deal, this can cause accessibility barriers. For those who are economically challenged, financial resources may need to be allocated towards necessities, leaving little to no extra funds for additional purchases.

Novels should be accessible and enjoyable for everyone without having to worry about breaking the bank. Fortunately, for those who are unable to buy their next read at a regular retail bookstore, there are several alternative options

Libraries are a great alternative for people of all backgrounds as they have an excellent selection of books, accessible simply with a library card. Looking for used books at thrift stores and on Facebook Marketplace is another a great way to purchase books for a cheaper price. You might even find a rare edition or vintage copy of a novel you won’t find at retail bookstores.

Readers can engage in the age-old tradition of book sharing. Not only does trading with friends, housemates, or family members who love to read help save on cash, but you get a unique glimpse into their inner world by seeing the parts of the story they dog-eared to come back to later.

Similarly, you can create a “Take a Book and Leave a Book” box outside your home. By doing so, you contribute to a circulating library, allowing people of all ages to partake in the joy of reading.

Having good access to books shouldn’t be a luxury. Reading allows me to leave reality behind for a moment, and become fully immersed in a story. Everyone should be able to enjoy reading as much as I do without worrying about breaking the bank.


BookTok, hobbies, Reading

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