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Friday, March 26, 2010

What Sold You?

I was at the book store today in an attempt to quench my thirst for paranormal romance when I realized (quite suddenly actually) that I have a method for reviewing and then selecting books. What was weird was that I had not been aware of my method before today…I just did it…Every. Single. Time.

So here’s my method (for books that are faced, at least): The cover draws me in; it’s usually something dark, sexy, and gothic looking. Once I pick it up, I quickly read the back cover blurb, and if that has me interested, I then read the first paragraph. If the writing seems competent and interesting I buy it. That’s it…simple.

Big bookstores are a little daunting. I go to the romance section and look at the hundreds, thousands of books, most of which are not faced and wonder which will be a good selection and which will be a dud. Over the past year or so I’ve discovered quite a few new authors by recommendation, but things have been slow over the past little while and my friends can’t seem to keep up with my appetite for romance so I’ve been left to discover new authors on my own. When I’m looking at the endless line of book spines, it’s often just by fluke that I pull one out, do my thing and discover something I think I’ll enjoy. In those cases it’s the author’s name that draws me in. If it’s catchy, or flows well, I’ll take a look. Kresley Cole is a good example of an author whose name is catchy. I liked it when I saw it, pulled her book out and discovered a whole new world of paranormal that I fell in love with. Now I can’t get enough of her stuff.

So today there I was, staring at this impossibly long aisle of choices, new possibilities staring back at me and I realized how vitally important it is for authors to have their books faced. If people can see the cover (and the cover is an eye catching one) then they’ll pick up your book. If they pick up your book, then they may not put it back down. It certainly works that way for me. Otherwise, it’s luck…will your name catch my interest? Will the color of your book spine draw me in?

So what about you all? What makes you pick up a book and read it? Do you purely go on recommendations or do you select based on some other criteria? Do you shop online or must you visit the bricks and mortar establishments? How do you discover new authors? What makes you want to buy? How important is an author’s name? What about the cover…important to you or not?


  1. Hey Angela,
    It's a bit of a tricky thing to be honest. I tend to do my research before embarking on a trip to the bookshop. I'll set out a wide perameter for what I'm looking for, then run a search, then with the results, I'll spend the time looking at the blurb. Cover work can play a part at times but if the blurb just doesn't sell the product, someones not doing thier job.

    As a reviewer I'm lucky that I don't have to shell out too much on books so trying a new author is always a thing that I can do. I've discovered that theres a hell of a lot of talent out there but to be honest I tend to stick to the major publishers over small press. This is due to a number of reasons:

    1) The author has already been vetted enough to get a contract (usually by getting an agent who then managed to sell the book to the publisher.)

    2) The Publisher is (usually) dependable for keeping a certain level of quality as well as interest for the reader.

    3) The publisher moves with the times, I'm not going to get a new author now writing a title that was meant for the 1950's audience.

    I do have a couple of new authors in at the moment, one is an American called Carolyn Crane who has written Mind Games that might be to your taste (although its still on my TBR pile currently.) When I get round to it, I'll let you know.

    Book buying is always a personal exercise however if you know a few who enjoy the same sort of thing as you then you've got a good chance that they'll only give you great titles to read. But shelling out for that new author for the first time is always going to be hit and miss. It's one reason I wish more publishers would do anthologies full of short story tales to give you a taster of the talent available.

  2. I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a sweet matte black cover and a good hook. That's pretty much it.

  3. I generally start by visiting the sections I'm most likely to find the genres I read. I scour the end caps and the tables for newcomers first. Artwork is nice, but the title has to get my attention. If the artwork and the title do their job, I'll read the back copy for more about the story. I tend to bypass the writer plugs. If the back copy passed muster, I'll read the first page or three.

    Sure, I like my favorite authors, but I know I can always find them nestle along their prospective spots on the shelves.

  4. I feel sad for good writers whose books don't get a face-out status in book stores. It's all strategy marketing etc. as to who gets to face out. Anyway, I'm hardly ever swayed by the cover illustation but, if I see a quote fromy an author I enjoy on the cover I'll read the blurb and the first few pages to see if I want the book.

    I often hear about books through friends, or through library recommendations. And, my favourite bookstore also shows staff recommended books - and I'll take a look a those before I go browsing through the books that only have their spines showing.

  5. I love the big stores. I can get lost in them for hours. I wander through the aisles and take my time looking at the covers. If one catches my eye then I'll read the blurb and go from there. If none in a particular area are faced, I go by title. I don't pay much attention to the author's name, it's the story I'm interested in. If the title speaks to me, I'll pull it off the shelf. My daughter and I spent almost an hour wondering Borders today, as a matter of fact. No new authors today, but we had fun just the same.