The Two Kinds of People Who Buy Books

“People who buy books … are of two kinds. There are those who buy because they love books and what they can get from them, and those to whom books are one form of entertainment among several. … The second group has to be courted” (p. 117). .

Which kind of book buyer are you? I’m definitely the first one.

This is just one of the many observations Diana Athill (1917-2019) makes about books and writing and publishing in her memoir Stet (2000). I am enjoying the read, not just for her funny stories and compelling insights, but because I used to work as an editor. I often used “stet” to let the words stand and reverse some haphazard or misguided change I had made in haste.


Now I teach editors and technical writers. The English department in which I work is starting a literary editing minor. Perhaps we’ll turn out some future Diana Athills!

I’m looking forward to discussing this book with my “Real Readers” bookclub in a few days!


4 thoughts on “The Two Kinds of People Who Buy Books

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  1. Always be wary of an either/or choice. The truth very often lies somewhere between the two. So when faced with an either/or choice, my answer is “Yes.” So am I reader who wants to get something from a book or just looks for entertainment? Yes.

    1. Judy, well of course you’re right about this! The truth is definitely in between for me, but it is so tempting to want to characterize one’s self (and others) with these sorts of declarations. I like your answer: Yes! 🙂

  2. I fall into the first camp. I rarely watch TV or go to the cinema – I love the theatre (but it’s more treat than regular occurrence) – I do, however, read books every day of my life. When I don’t have my snout in an actual book I’m generally reading critiques or literary features in the newspaper or writing reviews. It’s books all the way for me! 📚😃

    1. I read every day too! I used to spend more time watching TV and catching up on streaming shows, but these days, I’m all about books. I’m glad to find a kindred spirit.

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