As I tighten the budget around my house in ways that don’t affect any measurable means of enjoyment yet result in saving money, I’ve been thinking about some of my magazine subscriptions and book purchases. Do I really need to subscribe to some of theseMagazines magazines? Do I need to buy books I want? Is there a better way to get what I need and enjoy it in the process without spending a bunch of dough?

I absolutely love my books, but so often I read them and then they just collect dust. In fact when my partner Kim re-introduced me to the library a few years ago it was a major epiphany. Here I could read a bunch of fiction including some of the latest and greatest only in hardcover for free or darn cheap (costs me $.50 to put one of those “hot” new books on hold so I can read it sometime this century). I could search the library’s catalog online, see if what I wanted was checked in or not and even put books on hold so they would call me when they were available. I was overcome with joy! I’ve found the library to be a super source of getting my fiction fix. Sometimes I even grab some nonfiction too and if it is something I just “must” have for my library, I can always buy it later. The only real downfall with the library is that in this semi-Bible-thumping area you won’t find any LGBT themed things in there. I have to hunt those out elsewhere. I would love an LGBT virtual library because while I enjoy reading some of the light fiction and lesbian romances, I don’t really have a need to buy and let it collect dust. With the exception of a few meaningful books from early in our coming out experience, it is next to never that I read a story more than once.

When it comes to my business, I rely on a lot of reading to keep learning and find new resources for my clients. Many of these types of books I simply buy because I refer to them often and read them more than once. However, I wonder how many of these, at least the ones from major publishers, might be found in the library?

Or, perhaps they are worth a good long glance at a local bookshop. Is it OK to read a whole book at your local bookstore with coffee shop? Or, is that considered stealing since their intent, unlike a library, is to sell merchandise? What if you buy other books or even just some coffee while you sit and read? How does that change the situation? What do you think?

These questions become even stickier when it comes to magazines. Sure I can go to the library once in a while and read them, but it doesn’t have the same allure as sitting on my deck with a glass of wine. If there are parts of a magazine I really want to keep or show to Kim, I can’t just rip the articles out, but I could photocopy them if I have enough dimes and patience. Reading magazines at the local Barnes & Noble sounds more appealing, though, doesn’t it? After all, you can buy some Starbucks coffee, curl up in a big chair and read. But, is it OK to read magazines in stores? That is the question posed by the Frugal Duchess in this article.

From the official company responses in her article, it seems that most big chains expect people to grab books and magazines and read them in the coffee shop. I mean, after all wasn’t that the whole point of these massive bookstores with coffee, cafes, and everything but the kitchen sink? They want you to spend time there and a lot of money. They know the longer you stay in the store, the more likely your purchase amount will increase. I figure if I am spending $10 on coffee and maybe a goodie when Kim & I go, I can read a $4 magazine for free assuming I don’t damage it in any way. Some of our best trips get planned in the store. It is too expensive to buy all those travel books so we sift through a pile of them and buy only those, if any, that we really want to lug with us on the plane.

That leaves me with this weeks’ question: What Would You Do? Would you read a whole book or magazine in a bookstore and not purchase it? What circumstances make it ok? When is it not ok? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments…


Paula Gregorowicz is the Comfortable in Your Own Skin(tm) Coach and you can learn more at her website and blog .