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Books are a Bargain

Written by Nickel - 11 Comments

While perusing a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, I ran across an interesting article by Stephen King about the best books of 2008. In it, he touted books as being an entertainment bargain, saying:

In 2007, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average price of a movie ticket was $6.88. Let’s say it [went] up to $7.00 in 2008. And say that you and your sweetie buy $10 of snacks… Even leaving out the babysitter and the cost of gas, that’s $24 for two hours’ worth of entertainment. For that same $24 — less, with a discount — you can buy a new book and be entertained for days. Plus, your sweetie can read it when you’re done.

Whenever we take the kids to a movie, the same sorts of things go through my head. After all, even for a matinee, we’re looking at $36 for the tickets alone. Don’t get me wrong… I quite enjoy an occasional trip to to the theater, but it’s not exactly a cheap diversion.

As for the books, they’re an even better deal if you pick up a paperback, buy a used copy, or (gasp!) go to the library. Of course, there are cheaper ways to see movies, as well, but I think that the larger point still stands.

Published on January 8th, 2009
Modified on April 3rd, 2012 - 11 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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11 Responses to “Books are a Bargain”

  1. 1
    Nicole Says:

    While they may be a bargain (and maybe renting movies is too, if you’re going to compare to a theater), it’s way more of a bargain if you go through your local library for most of your media needs. I’m lucky to live in a major metro suburban area that has a fantastic library-sharing program, so there is very little I can’t get there. Even if you aren’t so lucky, there are still things like half-price books, buying used books online, PaperbackSwap.com, borrowing from friends, etc to make it an even better value.

  2. 2
    Reader Says:

    Mr. King has it wrong. It’s not that books are a bargain, it’s that movie theaters are a rip-off. Think about it: how would he make his case using a $2 DVD rental?

    I love books (read about two a week for a few decades now), but his argument is flawed.

  3. 3
    Craig Says:

    That’s an interesting way to look at it. First of all, where in the country can you watch a movie for under $7.00 not matinee? It runs me close to $11.

    I’ve been buying more used books lately to save on costs and love the entertainment value. usually takes me 3 weeks to read and look forward to the time I can spend reading, one of the little goals I try to accomplish in a day. Not just the entertainment value, but for me, I feel good about myself when reading. Others feel the same way?

  4. 4
    KC Says:

    I haven’t been to a movie theatre since W came out and before that I hadn’t seen anything since Talledega Nights. So about once every 2 years I get to the movies. Who wants to go out, be on the theatre’s schedule, be around a bunch of kids, and then sit somewhere without a close by bathroom for over 2 hours. Personally I prefer Netflix when the bathroom is close, I have a greater variety of cheaper snacks, and I can stop the movie halfway through – I can’t sit still for 2 hours anyway – it’s boring.

    With books you can read in 15 or 30 min increments. If I can’t get it from the public library I’ll order it and then re-sell it on half.com or amazon and make most of my money back. Books are way better entertainment for the money than going to the theatre.

  5. 5
    Cathy Quik Says:

    Plus books last longer. And they encourage thinking rather than just absorbing.

    I am such a bookworm :)

    As far as movies go, I think I prefer renting movies and watching them at home anyway. That way I can watch while eating cheap food and with my feet up :)

  6. 6
    thomas Says:

    I prefer digital entertainment.

  7. 7
    jim Says:

    That’s what she said…. ZING!

  8. 8
    spivey Says:

    I agree. I can’t stand going to the movie theater, mainly because I can just wait until one of my friends buys the movie on DVD and then watch it for free.

    Libraries are a great way to go, as well as buying books online. I usually prefer to buy books because if I really enjoy them I can pass them on to a family member or friend.

    Plus, books make you smarter. Movies make you dumber.

  9. 9
    Courtney Says:

    Unless you’re me, and read 1,000 words per minute, and then a crack addiction might be cheaper. ;) I can read about 20+ books a week in a good week, about 5-8 on an average week. If I buy a $7.99 paperback, it will last me about 2 hours, more or less. FWIW, I live in Morgantown, WV, and you can buy a movie ticket for $6.75….at least you could a year ago, the last time I went to a movie. I do utilize the local public library, but I’ve read pretty much every thing by every author that appeals to me in every genre I want to read. It’s nice to be able to check out the new hardbacks there, though. I belong to paperbackswap.com, and sometimes that’s nice, but usually they don’t have the books I want to read. My DBH gave me a kindle for Christmas (talk about enabling my habit!) and that has been nice, because I can buy older books for cheap/free and read them while nursing my daughter. I tried bookswim.com a book rental service, but was displeased with the slow to and fros, which limited me to about 8 new books every other week.

  10. 10
    Sara Says:

    Library use is great when you have access to a large, well-stocked one. I swap books and DVDs on http://www.bookins.com and have been really pleased with the selection, value and quick turnaround. It’s $4.49 total for each item delivered, which is a little more than services where you just pay exact postage, but the difference is worth it to me because of the ease of use and bookins’ quality guarantee that the other services don’t have.

  11. 11
    Danielle Says:

    I am a movie and book junkie, love both means of entertainment equally.

    Library is not close and with having to pay for parking not exactly free. I do BookMooch for swapping, buy used at goodwill, share copies with friends when reading for a book club and swap books with others a lot.

    Movies we invest in a TiVo, Premium Channels and Netflix (including instantly viewable on my TiVo) and rarely go to the theater. If I went to the movies as often as I read a new book it would be expensive indeed! So I think S.K. has a point!

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