What Makes You Buy a Book?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
What makes you buy a book? This is a question I've been thinking a lot about lately for different reasons. Of course, the most obvious reason is because I'm trying to sell a book. (It's historical fiction for ages 9 to 12 if anyone is interested. . . (winks) ) But also, in the last month, I've been to a Scholastic Book Fair, a librarians' conference, a writers' conference, a book signing, and a school visit. I see people buying books. I see people reading books. I see people get excited about books. But I also see a lot of browsing and not a lot of buying. SO, what makes you buy a book?

Is it the cover?

Is it the jacket copy?

Is it because you know the author personally?

Is it because you've read something else from the author?

Is it because you heard the author speak?

Is it because you read a good review about the book?

Is it because someone you trust recommended it?

Why do we buy the books we do?

When I look at the bestseller list, I often wonder how these books made it big. What is it about Twilight that made it stand out from all the other vampire novels? Why did Divergent make it big when there are hundreds of dystopian novels? How about Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele? Why are people drawn to their books over the other hundreds of romance writers out there?

I wish I had an answer. I am asking all the questions, and I don't really have any answers. All I can do is tell you why I buy a book.

I buy a book because it sounds interesting and fascinating.

I buy a book because I've read others by the author or in the series.

I buy a book because a friend recommended it.

I buy a book because it's an award winner.

Sometimes, I buy a book because of the cover, but not very often.

So, I would love to hear why you buy a book. There's no right or wrong reason--let's just discuss this and shed some light on the subject for authors.

post by Margo L. Dill; Margo teaches classes for WOW! Find out more here: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Along with
* favorite author
* recommendation from a friend
* great review

I also am sometimes intrigued by the title. Very rarely, it's the cover. And sometimes I open up the book and read the first line (or the first paragraph).

Good luck with your book, Margo. It must be exhilarating for your newest "baby" to be toddling around in public. ;)

Margo Dill said...

Sioux: The title--that's an interesting reason--I never really thought of before. I guess with the cover--sometimes the cover makes me pick up a book, but I do look at the summary and first page before I actually buy (or checkout from the library). I guess I never pay attention to the title except to try and remember it, so I can check out the book. :)

Anonymous said...

For me, BUYING a book is a lot different from reading a book! :-)

I read a book because of reviews, or author loyalty or subject matter. I appreciate a great cover or title but I'll always read the blurb after a book's caught my eye. It's the blurb that sells me.

Speaking of sales, I BUY books for similar but definite reasons. The author is a friend (and I want to support him/her), or the subject matter is writing (so reference books) or it's a great deal (on the bargain table and will make a good gift). :-)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I think it's one of those things where everything comes together in just the right way - how's my book money budget, is it a favorite author, who recommended it to me, is it on sale, is it in hardcover or paperback, etc? I don't really have many hard and fast rules for buying books. :)

I often take a chance on new authors or genres through the library and then if I find something I love, I'll make a note to buy that author's new one or a backlist title.

Kim Lehnhoff said...

I have to admit that I do choose a book by the cover - as I have bought multiple copies of the same book.

I buy them for all of the reasons you listed, as well as the title. Sometimes a clever title will get me.

I consider reviews only when buying books online; when I'm in a bookstore, it's more cover/title/blurb-driven.

When I find an author I like, I am prone to buy other books by the same author, even if they've changed genres. I make an exception if they've written a romance - I have very little desire to read those, ever.

Lynn said...

Often it's author first. I'll buy anything written by Lisa See :). But when I'm browsing, it's often title first, sometimes the jacket design, then the blurb on the back, then I read the first couple of paragraphs for style and 'pull'. I often go for prize/award winners and, of course, recommendations by friends whose reading tastes I respect. An example of buying based on title: The Sense of an Ending. LOVED that title. The book is a Booker Prize winner, which also drew me in.

www.havetotewilltravel.com said...

Hairdressers! My hairdresser and her clients pass along book ideas constantly. Even though I follow my own fav authors, my hairdresser always has a list of "must reads" for me that either she read or her clients told her about. It's a good little network.

Margo Dill said...

@havetotewilltravel: That is funny that you say that because I just got my haircut Monday, and she and I were chatting and chatting about books. :) I'm sure we don't go to the same one.. .so, how do you get into the hairdresser market?

@Lynn & @Kim: I seem to be in the minority on the title drawing a person in. I am definitely going to have to start paying more attention to that in my own writing and in others!

@Madeline: Oh, the book money budget--I wish mine was unlimited. :)

@Cathy: You are right about that. I take a chance on books at the library (and often like them) that I wouldn't have bought first to take a chance.

Linda O'Connell said...

I usually read the blurb, but an attractive cover cathces my attention. I usually read two or three books at a time unless I am into one I can't out down.

BECKY said...

Great post, Margo. As far as just browsing in a store, I'm always first drawn to a book by its cover and/or title. Those two kind of go together for me. I hardly ever read much of an inside flap, since years ago I read one that gave away the entire plot! Dumb! Those other reasons pertain to me, too: recommended by someone, the genre I usually read/love, and of course, buying books that friends/acquaintances wrote! We writers have to support each other! :)

pinartarhan said...

Most often I buy the book despite the cover, especially if it is romance. I don't like the term checklist, and even though I love funny romantic stories, white wedding gowns and pink covers (and this is despite loving pink as a color) put me off. It's like the publishers are desperate to chase potential male readers, who are already incline to pass because of the genre anyway:D It's worth mentioning that I'm a girl, and while I know my romantic stuff will appeal more to women, it's not something men would hate if they gave a try.

I immediately check out the jacket copy. I'm big on an interesting plot. It helps if I'm familiar with the author, of if it was recommended by an author I love or if the work is compared to a favorite author of mine.Of course I buy any legal thriller from John Grisham. He has yet to fail me in that genre:)

I listen to recommendations from a friend if our taste is similar, but generally I just love heading to the bookstore, reading the backs of a dozen or so books until I find one with the most appealing plot. However I also look in and test the language of the author. It just has to flow:)

Marilyn said...

Margo, I buy for all the above reasons, too. For the last two years, I've been buying the works of people I've met at conferences and in online classes. My book budget is nowhere near what I would like it to be, but I do buy a lot of books, both ebook and print books. I think I'm working my way towards being a snob. LOL If I know the author, I want a signed copy no matter the shipping cost. I like a variety of genres and will buy J. Grisham, D. Steel, Sharon Woods Hopkins, Claire Applewhite and Bill Hopkins, along with anything by Bart Baker and Shannon Yarbrough. Those local authors alone keep me broke!

BTW, I want your book for my niece, who will turn 9 in March. I've already spent my limit and then some for Christmas, so it will be part of her b'day.

I absolutely LOVE supporting Indie authors and local authors that I continue to meet.

Looking forward to the conference in April to visit with you in person again.

Eugenia Parrish said...

I hardly ever read reviews -- what's cake to one is crap to another. I look for authors I love, or ones I have read about and was intrigued. Since writing to me is like music, I must open it and try out the first page or so. A wonderful story ineptly written is, to me, a concerto played dreadfully offkey.

Sometimes it's the cover, but that's more of a negative. No matter how intriguing the subject matter, title or author, a crappy cover will keep me from opening it to see if the writing's any good! And again, "crappy" is a matter of individual taste.

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