What makes you buy a book?

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What makes you buy a book?

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1lmcguirk
Ago 4, 2008, 2:20pm

I was reading through the discussion that some of you had over the weekend and there was mention of poor reviews on Amazon for some of Kaye Gibbons books. That got me thinking (uh-oh): what makes readers buy a book? I know, there are lots of factors, but I want to keep the scope narrow. I work at a bookstore for 2 hours a week and we've often talked about what's more appealing to us when we look at a book--blurbs from prominent media sources or blurbs from prominent experts/literary figures? So, removing other factors such as the cover, a friend's recommendation, a story you heard on the radio, etc., if you chose a book based strictly on blurbs, would you prefer them to be media blurbs (i.e.--New York Times, Washington Post) or blurbs from other authors or figures?

2mckait
Editado: Ago 4, 2008, 3:01pm

NOT from media. Who trusts media these days?I look at those reviews. I wouldn't trust authors either ( pardon me authors here ) because they are like doctors. They dare not say anything but good things about each other. What author is going to say Bleh, your book sucks, read mine instead?

I choose a book from the description of the story. As I have said, a cover will send me running if it is not appealing. Even if it sounds good, if it has a crappy cover, I will probably assume that the description is better than the book deserves.

I also choose books by author I have enjoyed in the past.

I will walk away from one that is too enthusiastically marketed Edward Sawtelle comes to mind. Sounds hopeless eh? it's a wonder I ever buy a book, lol. Everywhere I looked, there it was.

3lovemybooks
Ago 5, 2008, 1:43pm

Blurbs from my favorite authors probably works best,especially if the book is in their genre.

4mckait
Ago 6, 2008, 6:09pm

I do read reviews by other readers, here and on Amazon. Also if I find a blog. I especially like them here because I can see from the reviewers library if they have similar taste to mine.

5JaynePupek
Ago 7, 2008, 9:05am

I usually buy books by writers I've read previously or books that someone personally recommended. Otherwise, I read reviews by readers, most often on Amazon.com or on sites like this one. I pay little attention to media reviews or blurbs. I pay attention to author blurbs only if I truly admire the author.

6silverheron
Editado: Ago 11, 2008, 12:08pm

I would have to say that blurbs by other readers has the most influence on me. Even if the reader did not like the book I may find something in what they said that makes me think that it might be a better fit for me than it was for them. Sometimes it works in the reverse as well. The reader may have loved the book but what they loved is not at all something that I find interesting so I will not buy it even if it had a good review. What I want from a review or blurb is what you will find in the book.

7bostonbibliophile
Ago 11, 2008, 12:15pm

For me it's subject matter if it's nonfiction. If it's fiction I'll look at the author, or the subject, or the description on the back. If I'm really interested I'll read the first few pages, or look up reviews. I'm a sucker for anything that wins or is nominated for the Booker Prize. If the book is recommended by someone whose taste I trust, like a fellow librarian or a favorite blogger, that makes a difference as well. I might not end up buying everything that way but it helps bring things to my attention.

8Kanellio
Ago 11, 2008, 2:29pm

I have to agree with most people so far that I read readers' reviews. Since I started doing reviews for several sites myself this summer, they mean even more to me. There are times I have read a book and read someone who totally disagrees with how I feel and that always throws me a bit but I then try to analyze what it was they didn't like and why. That is a good learning experience. I also think the covers can sell or kill a book. I belong to a book club and often books are recommended that I would never have read on my own but did because it was our book for the month and I have only been disappointed once in over 5 years now. Lastly, I have found as I get older, I read more genres than I did when I was younger...thank goodness as it opens up a whole new world!

9bermudaonion
Ago 11, 2008, 8:25pm

I trust my friend's recommendations more than reviewers. I have to admit an attractive cover can lure me in, too.

10bethann
Ago 11, 2008, 8:38pm

If there is a blurb from an author who I really admire, then I take a much closer look at the book.

And I agree with mckait...I tend to avoid a lot of books if they are over advertised (although I did buy Edward Sawtelle!! :) ) I have been let down by too many overly-hyped books in the past. Plus, I think it is really special to find that "gem" in the bookstore. Not to be a suck up here, but I honestly felt that way about Tomato Girl.

To me, that is the best part of reading...FINDING that book that connects with what seems like just you. Does that make sense? Regardless of all the hype and media...the words on the page transcend it all and create a personal relationship with the reader!

11JaynePupek
Ago 11, 2008, 11:06pm

Thank you, Beth Ann. That's so nice to hear. (Yes, there has been a lot of hype about The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, but it is well deserved, I think.)

12aluvalibri
Ago 12, 2008, 7:48am

Readers' reviews count for me, both here and on Amazon, but also the author, a brief description of the plot and the cover (although this is not the determining factor).

13Peripa
Ago 12, 2008, 11:20am

For me a book has to fall into that category of just enough hype to get me interested, but not enough to annoy me, as far as media goes. I don't read reviews, necessarily, but I do take note when I hear several people mention a particular book.

Other than that, when I'm in a book store and a cover catches my eye, I read the first page. If I want to keep reading after that, I'll buy it. If I'm not interested from the first page, then I abandon it.

14mckait
Ago 12, 2008, 1:25pm

You know how some books from certain well known authors do not have summery of the book anywhere? I wouldn't buy one for anything. If an author has been writing so long that they feel no summary is needed, I just assume e is past his prime and the book is too bad to buy.

I may be wrong about it .. but I dislike arrogance! :P

And I don't buy a pig in a poke...

15AquariusNat
Ago 12, 2008, 1:32pm

I agree that is obnoxious ! Even classics are still given a summary on the backcover or inside flap .

16Peripa
Ago 13, 2008, 3:40pm

>14 mckait:: What's a pig in a poke? I've never heard that before.

17silverheron
Ago 13, 2008, 3:49pm

#16 Try this link for an explanation of what "A pig in a poke" means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_in_a_poke

18lmcguirk
Ago 13, 2008, 3:55pm

I was wondering the same thing. See, now we've learned about some cool books and an idiom! The internet is an amazing thing.

19mckait
Ago 13, 2008, 4:40pm

yes, thats it...a pig in a poke.

20JaynePupek
Ago 14, 2008, 9:06am

My father still uses this saying, and others, like "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," "Put that in your pipe and smoke it," "He's still wet behind the ears," "like a chicken with its head cut off," and so many more. My kids look at him like he's lost his mind.

21VisibleGhost
Ago 14, 2008, 10:15am

My number one tool for deciding what books to buy these days is Amazon's 'People that bought this also bought' feature. I enter a book that I liked and that feature will give me twenty books (usually) with number of reviews and star ratings. If I have read and enjoyed several of the books on the list and I see one with 38 ratings and 4 1/2 stars then I know there is a good chance I'll like it. No need to read reviews, I'm not much of a review reader anyway, and no need for blurbs from any source. In this case I'm using algorithms and the wisdom of crowds in place of blurbers. It has worked well for me.

Aside- I don't like Amazon's regular recommendation engine at all. Just because an author's last book was good doesn't mean the current one is, or vice versa. That rec engine works off of past purchases which I don't like. Rating books by an author doesn't seem to help it either. It just recommends all the author's other books, both good and bad.

So, the answer to the question in the OP about blurbs is; if I'm in a bookstore just browsing for something I've never heard of before I do still look for the double-dose blurbs. That is, the book got starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.

22bermudaonion
Ago 14, 2008, 12:58pm

My father has a saying for everything, too. I swore I would never repeat any of them, but guess what? I do! I've even heard my 21 year old son say some of them, and I love it!

23Peripa
Ago 15, 2008, 12:17am

Ah, thanks, #16! Well, learn something new every day and all that. I doubt I'll ever hear anyone say that out loud. Maybe I'll start!

24WisteriaLeigh
Editado: Ago 16, 2008, 12:24pm

Ah idioms! My mom was the mistress of idioms. How about,
"A poor workman always quarrels with his tools," "A stitch in time saves nine,"
"Empty barrels make the most noise," I use these in school because 3rd graders study idioms and like Jayne's kids, they look at me like I'm crazy.

25WisteriaLeigh
Ago 16, 2008, 12:33pm

I choose books in a variety of ways.
If I really like the author, I will usually read whatever they have written.

I read the summary given on Amazon or Barnes, and usually follow that up with looking at the ratings, then read the customer reviews.

I have a few trusted reader friends that know my taste and I will listen to their recommendations. However, I use caution with this because I have learned the hard way that even my best friend has the complete opposite book choices.

I browse and browse the stacks in the store and read covers summaries, maybe the first couple of pages, check out the cover and say, YES! or scrap it. This is my favorite way to pick out books.

26JaynePupek
Ago 17, 2008, 10:04pm

I purchase most of my books online. Customer reviews matter to me the most when deciding which books to buy online. When shopping in a bookstore, the cover art becomes more of a draw.

27montrealgirl2005
Set 13, 2008, 7:42am

When it comes to buying books for me I always but my fave authors right away. When I buy something I am an aware of I go by reviews in the media..lately its been from my local paper on the weekend there is a book section. I also get ideas from magazines if they have a book review and lastly the reviews of bloggers online.

28ThePam
Set 13, 2008, 8:19am

I frequently get a book based on recommendations from friends here and at the Amazon db. If I see something that's been out for awhile, I'll investigate the reviews, focusing on the less enthusiastic ones. Authors don't know it, but sometimes what the people say about a book that they don't like, convinces me to buy it.

29JaynePupek
Set 19, 2008, 1:12pm

That's an interesting point, Pam. I find that to be true, too, especially if a work is criticized as being too dark or surreal--I tend to admire authors who can pull off a story without the happily everafter ending, and I don't always need loose ends tied up for me to feel satisfied with a story.

30Roisin600
Jan 1, 2009, 3:49pm

I read every review I can find on the book and then read the first page, if I still haven't decided I read a page chosen at random from the middle. Being an addict I really do WANT/NEED to buy books
If after being given every chance and the book still can't pass the first and middle page test I may read the end and then decide.
If I have nothing at all to read, I will like a true addict, read anything and everything I can get my hands on.

31Roisin600
Abr 10, 2009, 12:06am

I will read the first page. I like recommendations from friends, I don't always want or need reviews as I think reviewers can be very subjective, and therefore have to be ignored at times.
I try never to judge a book by its cover, with books as with people the outside can be deceptive and doesn't always show what's going on, on the inside. Some authors make me buy every book they write. Some turn me off, but I try hard to keep an open mind and usually read everything on offer.
When going on a journey I take a bag big enough to hold at least 4 books, as well as the one I'm reading, in case there's a delay, I can go without food and drink but not a book, that is my nightmare, getting delayed on a journey without a book to read. If stranded I will read anything its better to have an indifferent book to read, rather than have nothing at all to read at all.
At Airports I also have to buy at least two or three books.

32avaland
Abr 23, 2009, 8:49am

When I was a bookseller, I loved, loved, loved reading books before publication, often pre-blurb. Of course, if we liked the book, we were expected to be part of the creation of the buzz (and that includes the many Algonquin titles, I read. Hi Shannon! Hi Craig!). Of course, I still shopped off the shelf back then, but less so. I have now been away from the bookstore for two years now and must buy my books like anyone else:-)

1. Content. Does the book sound like something I would like? A well-written, but not over-hyped synopsis is usually the biggest factor (within the publisher's control). And please don't say it's comparable to another author's work based on wishful thinking.
2. I can be attracted to a book by a title or cover art but I don't buy/read it on these factors.
3. Blurbs might push me over the edge if teetering there over a book. Usually, I like PW reviews/blurbs (sorry, pig-headed about the lack of women-authored books featured in the NY Times Book Review - last week only a third of the books featured were women-authored - thus, they have little credibility with me). Possibly an author blurb if the author rarely blurbs. I think Jonathan Lethem seems to be making a living out of blurbing these days...
4. Recommendations from friends who know my reading well or whose reading I admire can push something into my bookstore pile or Amazon basket, or move it up the TBR pile. But still, I like discovering books on my own, it's part of the reading experience. imo.

33Coyote99
Dez 27, 2009, 11:48am

I love the Bookmarks magazine. Compiles reviews and has featured authors. I usually sit down the day it comes and make a list of books to reserve at the library. And friends recommendations. And I check the member reviews on LT. I loved it back when bookstores separated paperbacks from hardbacks and you could spot an Algonquin book just by it's size.

34LCBrooks
Dez 28, 2009, 1:05pm

I rely on Book Sense. I like Indie picks.