My Budget-Based Plan to Attack My TBR

I have the unfortunate distinction of having a TBR pile that is larger than the sum total of all the books I’ve read in my life. On Goodreads, I have 404 books read.

My TBR is 451.

It had been in the 80-100 range for a while, but has really exploded this year. Part of that was getting over 100 Star Trek books from my mom for free, as she wanted to get rid of them when my parents moved. Then I bought a lot more books on eBay for cheap (several lots were 25 to 50 books where I averaged under $2 a book). I’ve bought tons of books from indies at conventions this year. I feel like a dragon who has hoarded books, and that it’s wasteful to acquire still more while I have so much entertainment on-hand.

I’ve decided, starting this month, that I now have a $0 budget for buying new books. If I want more, I have to earn them by reading what I already have. Every book I finish grants me an allowance towards new stuff. I’m fortunate and not taking this measure due to any financial hardship. This is all about addressing the fact that I already own more books than I physically have space for in my house. I have boxes of books in my closets, and in my garage. I need to read this stuff, and then probably fight against my book collector nature and sell off or give away a lot of it. Am I really going to read all the numbered Star Trek Voyager paperbacks again someday? Unlikely, based on what I’ve read so far. They’d just sit on my shelf as a statement about how much I like Star Trek.

$2.50 – basic rate for finishing a book.

Most ebooks cost $5 or more. (If you’re selling for under that, I think you’re selling yourself too cheap, unless it’s a move to get people in the door and future books in a series are higher priced.) Even if someone sells at the $2.99 lowest price Amazon allows for a 70% royalty, I’d still need to finish 2 books to afford 1. A physical book is likely $15-20, which is at least 6 books read for 1 new one.

Note: I ignore tax on this, and round prices up to the next dollar, for simplicity.

$5 – if a book is 400+ pages

I didn’t want to feel punished for reading longer books, so anything over 400 pages is worth $5. After making this the mark, it’s amazing how many books in my collection I discovered end in the 350-398 range LOL.

$10 – if a book is 700+ pages

Anything over 700 pages is an epic doorstop of a novel. Many epic fantasy titles don’t even get this long. If I can finish one of these huge books, it seems fair to be able to pick up a few shorter titles.

Book Sales = Equal Value Towards New Stuff

I’m not talking about any money earned from my own writing here. I mean, if I choose to sell books I’ve read from my collection, whatever money I make can be applied towards buying new books.

I’m planning to try to stay disciplined and keep this up at least until my TBR has shrunk to under 100.

How it has looked so far

  • +$2.50 – finished White as Frost
  • +$2.50 – finished a Nancy Drew Super Mystery
  • +$5.00 – ($10 total) – finished Wreck of Witches
  • +$2.50 – ($12.50 total) – finished Santa Saves Christmas #2
  • +$2.50 – ($15.00) – finished Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • -$3.00 ($12.00 remain) – purchased books 4&5 of Timothy Zahn’s Quadrail series
  • +2.50 ($14.50) – finished Stargate SG-1 #1.

I’ve finished 6 books, purchased 2, and have just shy of $15 I can put towards new stuff. I might adjust my allowance if it turns out I’m not really working down my TBR, but early on, I feel like this is working as intended.

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