Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coupon Addiction Or Disloyalty?

I just got an e-mail.

No, it's not from a friend or loved one.
No, it's not from Facebook or YouTube or Twitter.
No, it's not a reply from a job application (not even a rejection).
No, it's not spam (spam spam spam spammity spam wonderful spam!).

It's from Borders.
And it's a coupon.

Now, this isn't by any means a rare occurrence.
I usually receive a coupon from Borders once or twice a week.

See, I signed up for their free Borders Rewards card,
so I get e-mails with coupons
or events
or promotions
or new releases
at least once a week.

It's really nothing to get excited about.

Except, Borders tends to send out different coupons.

Usually, it's 25% off one item
(not including blah blah blah or blah).

Sometimes you get the occasional 30% off.
Maybe they'll have a week or two where it's 33% off.

But then...

Just when you least expect it...


And sure enough, I'm scrambling to figure out what I'm getting.

Doesn't matter that I'm unemployed and am low on funds.
Doesn't matter that I could wait and find it used for cheaper.
Doesn't matter that I'm probably buying something I don't need.

It's 40% off.
And it's for two days only.
(Actually, 99% of the time they extend the sale for 3 more days.)
(But what if they don't?!)

Hi everyone. My name is Vicki and I am obsessed with coupons.

Actually, I'm pretty much obsessed with sales in general.

I constantly scan the book section at Goodwill for books that I'm interested in; things I've seen on the shelves at Borders or Powell's. They sell paperbacks for $2, which, honestly, is a steal.

I also love looking around Jan's Paperbacks for good deals. They sell paperbacks for half the cover price plus a quarter ($.25), plus you can bring in some of your own books and get store credit. Finding an older copy of a book (back when they were all $4.99) can save you a lot of money.

Even when I was still in school, I'd order my books off Amazon rather than use the campus bookstore. Sure, you'd have to wait a little while and the condition wasn't always the greatest, but when you're in college every little bit counts. And sometimes having notes in the margins isn't a bad thing.

But recently I read a blog post by THE INTERN about being 'loyal' to the publishing industry.
A few years ago, INTERN read an essay (a rather irate essay, if INTERN recalls correctly) by an author who argued that nobody who doesn't buy new, hardback literary fiction at its full price should be allowed to write literary fiction (or at least, try to get it published). This author set the minimum new hardback purchase quota at something like twelve books per annum. Her reasoning was that authors and publishers of literary fiction rely on hardcover sales to make the whole kerfuffle worth kerfuffling, and that one is simply hypocritical (and a big meanie!) if one wants to see one's name in big letters on a hardcover book but, er, declines to buy them. [link]
Now, I own a total of ten hardcover books. Seven of those are Harry Potter, two others were gifts, and one was bought for IB English.

If you read my review of Bone Crossed, you'll remember my rant about being a Paperback Purist*. I find them bulky, not comfortable, and ultimately, more prone to wear than my paperbacks. ...Strange, eh?

I will admit, I baby my paperbacks quite diligently. I never crack the spines (and don't loan them out to anyone that does) and barring natural disasters (or torrential downpours) I keep them dry and clean.

With hardbacks (specifically my experience with the Harry Potters), I always remove the paper jacket so it doesn't get ripped, folded, or stained, leaving the (often ugly) covered cardboard exposed. The cardboard corners are rarely left unbent; the substance covering the cardboard (sometimes threadlike, sometimes paper-based) becomes stained and/or thins on the bottoms and corners, sometimes revealing the material underneath; in larger books the inner binding isn't always applied well, so the book starts to shift within its cover. Add in that these are only comfortable to hold while resting on a surface (table, bedcovers, armrest, stomach) because of their weight, and you've got an unattractive, bulky nuisance.

But let's say I did decide to change my buying habits and go completely hardcover... I still wouldn't buy at full-price.

As stated before, I shouldn't even be buying $2 books, let alone $24 ones! Don't get me wrong, I have authors I love (a healthy, distant love) and support wholeheartedly when I can. I simply can't get up the gumption to shell out $15 or more for a book when I know I can get a year from now for $6 (with coupon, or $2 if I strike gold at Goodwill). Even with required textbooks, why the heck would you spend $60 when you could get a decent used copy for $30?!

If you think about it, I could buy two paperbacks (with coupons) for the same price as one hardcover. So, if I'm buying twice as many books a year...isn't that better for the publishing industry? And if I review the books and/or recommend them to friends (or strangers) who have funds...isn't that even better?!

As far as, "if you aren't supporting the industry financially, you shouldn't be writing for it" all I can say is...shut the hell up.

You wouldn't tell an impoverished musician, "You can't buy CDs, so you can't sing." The same goes for writing. Just because someone has to rely on their library for all their literary needs, you can't tell them, "You aren't allowed to write."

Do I want to be published?
Hell yes.

Do I want to make money off of it?
Yeah, that would be nice.

Am I going to throw a tantrum if I ever see a copy of my book as 'discounted' or 'used'?
Heck no.
Just means someone else has a chance to read and enjoy it.

* Paperback Purist. I am totally coining that term!© Me!