What makes you buy a book?
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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.
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!
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.
I may be wrong about it .. but I dislike arrogance! :P
And I don't buy a pig in a poke...
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.