Is it a waste of money to buy books?

Short answer: no.

I like to defer to Ramit Sethi’s book-buying rule here:

If you’re “thinking about” buying a book, just buy it. Don’t waste 5 secs debating. Even 1 idea makes it worth it.

In this article, Ramit explains that buying a $30 book could inspire you to do something that will make you $10,000.

Then again, it might not. It’s a risk, but one with very large upside and very little downside.

He’s obviously talking about nonfiction books here, but fiction books aren’t a waste of money either because you gain entertainment value from them.

Here’s how I see it:

  • Best case: the book changes your life
  • Worst case: the book sucks and you quit after a few pages or you forget about it and it collects dust (but this is your own fault)
  • Most cases: you’ll learn a thing or two

I’ve probably bought a hundred books in my lifetime and only regretted buying less than five.

These days, books aren’t that expensive.

The days of the $30 ebook are gone. Most paperbacks will cost you less than $15 and are available on Kindle for even less than that. Many shorter nonfiction Kindle books cost less than $5.

One of my favorite books of all time which totally changed the way I see the world is James Altucher ’s Choose Yourself. I’m pretty sure I bought this book for 99 cents.

The most influential personal finance book I’ve ever read, The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, helped me accumulate nearly a quarter million dollars in retirement savings by age 33. I think I paid $7.99 for the paperback.

Books are some of the cheapest and best investments you can make in yourself.

There’s a little follow through required on your part to make the most of them, but that’s true with any form of education.

If you’re concerned with getting your money’s worth, here’s what I suggest doing after every book purchase:

Give yourself one week to finish the book and implement ONE thing you learned.

If you do this, it’ll be hard not to get any value from it.

If you still think books are a waste of money, I don’t know what else to say. Go rent books from the library. Yep, those still exist.

Featured image by Clem Onojeghuo.

2 thoughts on “Are Books a Waste of Money?

    1. That’s awesome. I wonder if all libraries do that? I’ll have to check to see if mine does. I know Amazon Prime members have access to check out certain books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free also.


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