Friday, January 13, 2006


It wasn't a resolution as such, more an acknowledgement of the appropriate way to behave in the new year. We had shelves of unread books in the house before Christmas and more than twenty arrived with Santa. This backlog did not result from lack of reading so much as lack of stopping buying. So perhaps there was no real reason to buy any new books until ,oh, February at least.

So, when by the 12th January we had between us accumulated 11 new books ( let's not count the 5 I took out from the library becuase we were not buying new ones) it occured to us that we might have a little addiction gong on here. A quick check with Collins ascertained that if we had, the word addiction ( via the definition of dependency) means little more than 'being devoted to' being 'influenced' by. Well how else should a cultured person relate to books I ask? It is true that the online dictionary defines it as 'Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance' and involving an an 'abnormally strong craving'. We plead guilty to the craving. But is it abnormal? I decided to find out.

Sad people that we are we trawled back though credit card statements over a 2 year period and worked out that ( including Christmas/ Birthday etc. presents for each other) we spend in the region of 1.37% of our gross income on books. So is that 'normal' or what? Well, its hard to find comparators but, after a bit of internet research, I can tell you the following:

* The avereage Prospect reader spends £266 per year on books with 13% spending over £500.
* Korean Households spend on average 0.5% of monthly spend on books
* In the UK National Statistic state that the average UK household spent £59 per week in 'recreation and culture' but as well as books this included TV, computers, other leisure and package holidays, the latter alone comprising more than £12 per week.
* An survey found that stsudents in the UK planned to spend £311 million per annum on books when going to University but actually spent 43% of the sums they planned to spend on books on items like beer.
* 30% of people connected to the internet buy books online
* In Canada in 2001 only 48% of households spent anything at all on books and of the 5.7 million households who did 1.4 million spent over $200 per year
* The average San Fransiscan spends 1.1% of his income on books or $266 whilst a Los Angeleno spends only 0.7% at $148 per year.

So are we 'normal? Not really. Even in San Fransisco where the percentage rate is similar the actual spend in cash terms is much much lower.
Do we care? No.
Because (aside from the fact that our little habit drives us neither to debt or to crime) I also found out that the average US illegal drugs user spends $69 per day on his habit. Which makes us look like star graduates of the Betty Ford clinic. So if you will excuse me I'll just be going to have a browse through Amazon.........

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I love that you went to the trouble to look up the statistics! :) Awhile ago I made up my mind to spend as little as possible on books because of all the unread books in our house, so I started my own 12-step programme :)