For the most part, I try to keep my TBR (to be read) list manageable. Every other week I weed out books I no longer have any desire to read. I also think twice before adding new books to my TBR list. Despite the temptation to let my TBR list grow infinitely with all the lovely books listed on Goodreads, I resist.
Since I keep my TBR list as short as possible, I have a fairly good recollection on which books I intend to read, so the excitement level for each book is fairly substantial. Now can you imagine looking forward to that handful of books, only to find out they’re out of print or aren’t distributed in your region? It makes me sad whenever that happens.
Geographical restrictions can be extremely frustrating. I especially run into difficulty when it comes to obtaining Australian books. Take The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster. It was published 26. February 2014 but neither Amazon nor The Book Depository carry that title. Amazon doesn’t list it. The Book Depository does list it but states the book is unavailable. Same at my largest local bookstore; book’s listed but unavailable. Once in a while I can circumvent those problems when my library shelves copies of Australian books that are difficult for me to obtain. But that doesn’t always happen. I’ve looked at international shipping from Australian retailers but I’m not willing to pay shipping that equals the cost of a book. If only I had an Australian address, then I could buy eBooks via Amazon Australia.
Out of print books are even more difficult to get hold off. Unless they’re released in eBook format, my chances of accessing those books are very slim. At least I can ask friends to buy books for me abroad, if I’m really desperate to read a particular book. But when a book is out of print, I can’t exactly ask someone to buy the book for me in whichever country. Neither can I wait for my library to pick up those books. Most of the time the books I look for aren’t available at secondhand bookstores either. I know there’s AbeBooks but I’ve not tried ordering there, so I’ve no idea if shipping costs are justified.
The sad reality is that books that were published in the 1980s and 1990s are more difficult to obtain than books that were published prior to the 1920s. I hope books published in the 2010s will not go through such a level of scarcity since many are also published as eBooks. Rebecca J. Rosen wrote an interesting article for the The Atlantic about the scarcity of books published in recent decades as compared to older works. While that explains the root source of my predicament, it doesn’t solve it. Maybe I need to be more persistent in sourcing for these books but sometimes I just don’t know where to start.
How to you deal with unavailable books? Do you try to hunt them down or do you just move on?