Friday, July 25, 2008

Luxury or Necessity?

It is no secret that times are rough right now. With gas and food prices soaring, who can afford luxury items? And, what would be considered a luxury item?


Books a luxury?? No way!! I have noticed a shift in the book buying habits of customers this summer compared to last. It may not be the change you would expect, though.

In the past I would have customers stopping in to purchase a paperback or two for something to do on the airplane or the long car ride as they set off for their vacations. This year it seems more and more people consider a vacation an extravagance they can do without. The trip anyway. They still have the vacation time and are obviously going to make the most of it. Since they are saving hundreds of dollars by not taking that trip, they think nothing of spending some of that savings on books.

There were some great comments on this blog about eliminating book buying from the budget:

I’ve found that I don’t really save all that much money by cutting out book buying. The problem is that if I don’t have a book to read, I’ll start looking around for other types of entertainment that are usually more expensive. A book costs between 8 and 30 dollars, and generally will keep me entertained for 5 to 15 hours, depending on the length. By contrast, a movie is $12 and only keeps me entertained for two and a half hours.

Buying books is a real weakness of mine. … it’s one of my main forms of relaxation, stretches my mind and is probably the one thing I do for myself.

Browsing in local bookstores as a child and in college made special memories and we seek out shops when we travel now. Their owners may recommend something we’ve never heard of and the shops have a sense of place that B&N or Borders lack. Our house is also overflowing with books. Yeah, it is in need of culling every once in a while. But it is part of who we are as a family. Hasn’t anyone read the studies directly linking books in the home and academic success? Both our kids benefited from this “literacy-rich” environment and achieve well above their peers who do not read for pleasure. We love the library and visit regularly, especially for audio books. But books at home are a must. And my daughter’s perfect critical reading score on the SAT was a bonus ;-)

This summer I’ve had more and more customers purchase stacks of books for themselves and for their children. Since they are staying home for their vacation, they want to make sure they have plenty to do.

What about you?
Are you giving up any luxury items due to the economy?
What do you consider a necessity that others may not agree with?