Where to get your books when you are living in the Netherlands

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After reading the non-USA bookbloggers blog post at the Quiet Pond I thought it would be interesting to share with you how a non-USA reader gets her books. As you can see from my TLD I am Dutch and living in the Netherlands. I read in both Dutch as English.

While we have libraries in every city and every couple of villages the moment you turn 18 you have to pay for you subscription. The price of these subscriptions are depending on the library you want to get your card from and even then depending on which kind of subscription you choose. You can get a lot for you subscription, most libraries have books, ebooks, audio books, music, movies, games, magazines and often also organize cultural gettogethers (for which you have to pay again) like writing classes and paint classes or promotions from Dutch writers complete with sign-sessions. But this all depends on the people working/volunteering at the libraries. So where one can be very active the other one can be well… really not. The same goes for books. You can request books or genres, but the ones that are available depend on the people actually ordering the books. My favorite genres mystery, horror and a bit of fantasy are usually widely available but a lot of the more niche genres aren’t.

I must admit I haven’t had a library subscription for 17 years, but I am currently rethinking this since there are a lot of English ebooks available through the library. In my village this will cost me 50 EURO’s a year, which for my reading habits is a pretty fair price. And this also means I will get to read some of my favorite magazines again! One magazine is almost as expensive as the cheapest books so I have cancelled my subscriptions long ago.

Another thing up and coming are community libraries. I have been getting most of my books from these for the past 5 years. Community libraries are often located near public transport hubs, cultural hotspots and even at grocery stores or coffee houses. It’s basically a big bookshelf where random readers put their books and trade them for other ones. Sometimes there is a partnership with local second hand stores that can’t get rid of their too many books otherwise.

I started getting my books from these libraries as an experiment. I was wondering if I could read one year of books for free. I could! And then another, and another and another. I only got back to buying books recently, because now that I have re-established my reading habits and am reading over 50 books a year the genres and types of books available got a bit meager. Also, a lot of books are really really old, battered or musty and my lungs started acting up. However, due to having only these books available to me for the last couple of years I have found some really interesting books I would otherwise have never read! And that’s what I like the most about this setup.

And then there are the stores. The book stores, the second hand stores, the online stores. Basically, a lot of stores. Even big grocery stores sell books! So, if you are not too picky, you can get books anywhere. But if you want the really good ones, or ones in English so you won’t have to wait on a translation… well… ehm… that can cost you big time. Most of the time you can order it at your local or online bookstore. You will probably get it three to six weeks after the US release and the average prices are about 25-30 euros, which is basically 33,50 dollars. So if you read like 60 books a year (which I have done this year) and you only want to read the new releases, it will cost you almost 2000 dollars a year (which is a bit more than an average monthly salary). And you will still be a month behind. 😉

Luckily I don’t care about being the first to read something, there is so much to read you will always be behind. It just won’t be possible to read every book that exists so I gave up on wanting to long ago. When I buy books I mostly buy them from a second hand (book) store. And basically, I only buy a book when I know I want to either keep it to reread it until it’s all worn out or when I know I will be able to give it to someone as a gift.

What about you? How do you get your books? Share your story with other (book) bloggers!