Site Meter Vamps and Scamps: So what makes you buy a book?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

So what makes you buy a book?

Here it is... my last bit of procastination before I finally go and clean....

So what makes you buy a book?

Is it the cover? *G* See my new one? It's for my first standalone title coming from Berkley in June.

Is it the author?

Or the description on the back? What about recommendations from friends or seeing reviews on places like amazon?

Part of what made me decide to blog about this was a friend's commentary on Romancing the Blog. She was questioning the credibility of reviews on review sites and places like amazon. I'll be honest, I'm going to put a bit more stock into a review that comes from a halfway professional organization like RRT or the RT magazine. There's several very good review sites out there, but I rarely buy based on reviews... especially ones on Amazon. Professional review sites generally aren't full of errors, and if they don't like a book, they can usually tell why without running the book into the ground and bashing the authors.

Now I LOVE getting a good review there, but the more I read the variety of reviews on there, the less stock I put in them. Ones that are poorly written, overly glowing, or so full of spelling errors I need a translator... I don't pay much attention to.

UNLESS... and this is a big unless... Unless there's a review that just downright trampled a book. Mrs. Giggles, anybody? I know there's tons of readers out there who picked up a book she despised, simply because they had to know if it was really that bad. There's been a few books I picked up because the review on amazon was so awful, I had to wonder... why did this reader hate that book so much? Those are the few times I'll actually buy a book I was ambivalent about... based on a review. And if you're actively bashing the author... oh, there's a good chance I'll end up buying the book. Bashing an author is useless.

Review descriptions like... Well, the book just wasn't to my taste. That is ambivalent and people are less likely to be intrigued. So if you're writing the review to dissuade other readers... descriptions like Oh man, this book blew... the hero grossed me out and the heroine was a purple haired leprechaun freak who got off teasing the hero... Well, I can't speak for every reader, but I am a reader and always have been. That sort of review is more likely going to perk my curiosity than dissuade me from buying. Of course, the author in me wants nothing but good reviews for my books, but I know that's not going to happen and I'm okay with that. Over the past year or so, I've slowly stopped worrying quite so much about reviews... or try to. **and yep, i made that review up... never read it's just an example.**

What else plays into my book buying?

Cover? Eh... sometimes I'll pick a book up because it had a great cover. I'll read the blurb, and I may skim the first few pages to see if it hooks me. But it can have a cover that would put Michelangelo to shame, if the plot doesn't catch my interest and if the writing inside the book is flat, I'm not buying it.

Author? Ohhhhh... absolutely. I'll buy just about everything that SL Viehl and Nora Roberts/JD Robb write. Certain series... like Lora Leigh's breeds, JR Ward's Brotherhood or Mary Wine's Dream series, I'll grab them the minute I can, unless I can somehow work an early read out of them... **i've already read Lover Eternal... ;o) ** And I adore Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. So yes, the author can play into it, as well as the series.

Reviews...already discussed that.

Here's a big one, especially if it's somebody I haven't read. Recommendations from friends. A friend of mine recommended a book I didn't think I'd like, Natural Law by Joey Hill. More serious BDSM, not necessarily hard core, just a lot more serious and it played into the book. Plus, the hero in the book was the sub. My big reason for not trying it... but oh man... Mac was one of the best alphas I've ever read. Yep, an alpha whose preferences were to be the sub. I kept telling my friend, nah... I won't like it... nah... then Joey posted an excerpt on a list, and I was hooked. I didn't like it. I loved it. So reader recommendations from friends, especially those who know my likes and dislikes, are a major factor. That was how I started reading Christine Feehan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and too many others to name.

Does an author recommending a book... like the little quotes you see on the covers...does that play a deciding factor for you? For me, rarely. Although I do have to admit there are a couple of authors who I am so in awe of, that I will pick up a book if they say they loved it. But those are few and far between.

So reviews~rarely. Covers? Nope. Author? Oh, yes... Series? Definitely. Recommendations from friends? Yep.

I've listed what does it for me when it comes to book buying... what about you?


Nicole said...

Covers play a big part. That's what'll make me pick up the book to learn more about it. Rec's from friends and fellow bloggers, definitely. Author, of course. Reviews...sometimes.

jamie said...

I start by going through RT and selecting the books that sound interesting to me, I do have some authors that are auto buy authors for me, I take this info & make my book shopping list each month. While I'm shopping, I sometimes see covers that look interesting to me, and if the book description sounds good too, I'll add it to my basket. Recently, recommendations on the loops have given me a few additional adds to my list.

Alyssa said...

I have several auto-buy authors--I see their name and buy the book. Then there are others I get because of online buzz: it can be recommendations, reviews, and so on.

I do consider covers more than I first realized. I've bought a book more than once because I liked the cover. Sad but true.

Jennifer Y. said...

I have several auto-buy authors also. I also base my decision on back cover blurbs or excerpts on websites or in other books. This help me decide whether the books sound interesting enough to purchase.

I don't base my purchases on the front cover (although, they sometimes grab my attention and get me to read the back) or on reviews (everyone is entitled to their opinion and I may have different taste than some of teh reviewers).

Amy S. said...

If it is a favorite author of mine, book is an autobuy. Covers help me find new authors that I haven't read. Blurb on the back is why I usually decide to buy a book. I really don't pay much attention to reviews.

snowflake said...

Author, blurb, excerpt, word of mouth. Certainly, a great cover will make me take a second look at a book and it might tip the scales if I am hesitant about a new to me author but very rarely will I buy a book solely based on the cover.

I do read reviews but I take them with a pinch of salt. Like movies, too often what the critics bash, I end up enjoying.

Cryna said...

I have a list of books that I start out with when I go to the store to purchase books for the month.

That is based on auto buy authors and the continuation of a series. Also on the list will be some books that have been recommended through the loops, or reading from websites, or sometimes a friend.

While there, I have been know to buy a book which the cover has caught my eye and I have then read the back blurb, and thought the book would be something that I might be interested in.

Lucy Monroe said...

I used to buy by back cover copy and reading the small excerpt in the front of the book...if there wasn't one, I'd read the end. Yes, I like to know if the resolution is the *kind* I like. No, it does not ruin the book for me. I've found many favorite authors with this method.

Which brings me to how I buy books now...I buy my faves first and then if a story idea intrigues me, I'll buy a new (for me) author. Not so much word of mouth...I've been burned that way too many times, though I do keep trying books my friends recommend and I keep recommending books because I can't help myself.

I love a gorgeous cover, but it very rarely impacts whether or not I will buy the book, unless the title...or something about the cover indicates the story will be about something that interests me. I buy by subgenre too sometimes. If I'm in the mood for a vampire book, or a historical, or a contemporary...then the title and back cover copy will play a huge role in whether or not I'll buy the book.

I don't buy based on reviews, but I do read them for synopses sometimes when the publisher hasn't bothered to post the back cover blurb.


Lisa F. said...

Most of what I buy is from auto-buy authors. However, I've recently gotten into e-books and mainly I buy them based on the excerpt that may be posted, or from what the publisher says the book involves.

Lots of my book purchases are from recommendations from friends. Occasionally I will buy a book based on the back cover blurb, never from what the front cover looks like. I have put books back where the cover was too explicit - my kids don't need to see that laying around. That is where ebooks come in handy.

Shiloh Walker said...

you know, my book buying would be easier if I was as organized as some of you.

i've never gone to the store with a list.

And what happens ALOT is that I'll see a book that looks interesting, and ask some people if they've read it... then I'll forget about it.

Larissa said...

Not reviews as much as online buzz. And covers...every time. I LOVE a good cover. And Shiloh, yours is great! Congrats!

Cindy said...

I don't buy a book because of the cover. I will, however, try to find out what I can about a book if the cover is eye catching.

Reviews: Only if it's a review by reviewers that I know like the same kind of books as I do.

Author: Yes, definitely.

Blurb: Main deciding factor on authors I've never read before.

Recommendations: Yes, I've done this too and found some auto-buy authors because of it.


Billie Jo said...

Hi Shi,

I have never bought a book based on the cover. In fact I don't look at the cover, until I have finished reading it.

I look at the back blurb and if it interests me, I buy it. I do have my auto-buy authors. I also buy books recommended by friends. I do not read the reviews (even tho I am a reviewer). LOL.

Billie Jo

Shiloh Walker said...

Hi Larissa! How are you doing? I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that cover~I loved it.

Billie Jo... you don't look at covers until you're done?

Cindy~some of my fave authors ended up that way because somebody recommended them. :)

Cindy said...

Another thing...

Book title. Again, I won't buy a book *because* of the title, but a good title will have me wanting to read the blurb of a book. :)


Christina said...

Authors first... back of book second... excerpts third (sometimes first if it's someone I haven't heard of)... friends fourth... reviews last... I'll read just about anything except nonfiction (life's too real as is!)

Shiloh Walker said...

christina, isn't that a sad fact... lol

Annalee Blysse said...

Some of my favorite books had mixed reviews, people either love it or hate it. So if someone is bashing, I'll look twice too. If whatever riled the reviewer up wouldn't but me, I've found a few books I loved that way.

Trista Bane said...

I guess covers are pretty important to me. I don't buy based on the cover, but if the cover doesn't intrigue me, I don't read the blurb. I buy based on summaries and rec's. Often, the review will spark my interest even more than a blurb (because they often go into more detail). I don't however pay attention to Amazon reviews. I read posted reviews on loops.

Stacy ~ said...

I do what a lot of people here do - it's a combination of many things. Nothing's 100% foolproof, but I like to keep an open mind.

Word of mouth is pretty important, especially if that person has similar tastes as I do. I can't say I've had any bad experiences - all depends on who's doing the recommending. I also read RT magazine and get a lot of ideas from them as well. What I usually do at that point is if I find a book that intrigues me, I try to do a little more research - go to the author's website, check out Amazon/B&N reviews - and if I feel like it's worth it, I most likely will buy it.

Covers are eye-catching, so I'll read the back of the book - this is how I discovered Diana Gabaldon. I saw the cover for "Dragonfly in Amber" (I loved the title, too) and from there got "Outlander", which has been one of my most treasured finds. I never discount how a good cover can lead to great finds. I just don't use it as the only reason to buy a book.

Sometimes I go to the bs with a list, but usually I don't. I love the "hunt" of finding new books. It's pretty much my one vice so I don't really monitor my spending as much as I would for something else.

Michelle B said...

Well, I'm chiming in a little late, but here goes anyway! If I know I like an author, I always check out his/her new releases (as long as I'm aware of them of course!) After that, I generally read the blurb on the back of the cover, the excerpt in the front and sometimes even the first few pages to see if it captures my attention.

I like a good cover, but don't really go looking to pick up books because of the cover. I will say that I love bright colors, so if a cover color catches my eye, the book may stand out more and make me more likely to pick it up to read the blurbs.

I really don't pay any attention to reviews at online sites like Amazon for romance or other fiction novels. I only really pay attention when buying math books; if I'm looking to pick up material for teaching reference, whether or not students feel the book is confusing or helpful is good to consider.

The only thing I might do with fiction books is read a summary in a review. Otherwise, I like to form my own opinion. The only possible exception is when I see a recommendation at one of the many romance lists/groups I belong to. In fact that is how I first discovered your books Shi! If someone heartily recommends a book, I tend to at least look for more information and then go from there.


Shiloh Walker said...

that's always cool to hear, Michelle.

Recommendations from friends have led me to some of my fave books.