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What Makes You Choose a Book?

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I'm curious about how people select the books they read. 

Is a title enough to hook you, or is it the cover?  Do you select a book only when you've read the description and find that it interests you?
#1 - March 01, 2010, 06:50 AM


If the title or author is one I've heard of, that would be enough. Otherwise I read the back cover.
#2 - March 01, 2010, 07:06 AM

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I mostly go with authors I've heard of (and I try to keep on top of new releases for YA, especially).  If I'm at the library, I go to the 'new books' section and read the flap copy and usually the first couple of pages, if it sounds interesting.  Covers don't convince me that much, although they definitely will have me picking up books at the bookstore (but I don't often buy books from the store unless I've already read that author or have the book on my 'to buy' list).  The vast majority of my reading (probably 90% or more) is of new books (or books released in the past year) or previous books by authors I've just discovered (like reading GIRL OVERBOARD after reading NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL by Justina Chen Headley).
#3 - March 01, 2010, 08:34 AM
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales:

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I find there's so many new books coming out every day that I like to do my homework. I get lots of emails from local booksellers as well as the big online sellers, and if I hear of something I might like, I check amazon for editorial and, even better, reader comments. I also really value suggestions from other readers whose opinions I know and trust.
#4 - March 01, 2010, 08:38 AM

I couldn't care less about covers when I shop :)  Most of my choices are made without seeing covers. The exception is when I shelfread.  Mostly, though, I make my lists from

1. checking deals on writers boards & PM,
2. subscribing to 5 review journals (PW, SLJ, RT, Locus, & the Bulletin) which I browse--and which my kids & Spouse all browse. 
3. asking publishers (when I'm at conferences) some version of these two questions: 1) If I walk away with only 1 or 2 books here, what would you recommend? and 2) What book here is really good but not getting a big push? 
4. asking booksellers (when on tour & at some conferences) recs.
5. hearing recommendations from my friends & family. 

All of which means that I have a TBR shelf instead ofTBR pile, but I read several books a week & my kids, spouse, and mother are all big readers (& shop on my shelves), so it works out fairly well. 
#5 - March 01, 2010, 09:28 AM

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First off, I'll pick up a book if I recognize the title/author as someone I know from the online community or of someone getting a lot of buzz.

Second, I go by title ... if the title intrigues me .. I read the back cover copy and the blurb .. still interested .. I'll browse the first chapter .. if I'm still interested then I'll check it out or purchase it.

I, too, am not really drawn in by covers, and I totaly ignore best seller lists. Now I might read a best seller .. but it's not because it's on the list ... it's because it probably fit category 1 or 2 above.

Titles draw me in, the first few paragraphs will hook me. If I'm bored browsing the first page, I'll put the book down. If I don't like something or can't get into it, I don't read it all the way through. There's too much toread to force myself through something boring when I'm reading only for pleasure.
#6 - March 01, 2010, 11:29 AM
Making metaphors out of molehills for over thirty years.


I rarely browse for books out of the blue--most I get are from people I know or stuff I've been waiting for. But when I go looking around, it's usually the cover that catches my eye. Then the back (inside cover). I've always been interested based on book trailers too.
#7 - March 01, 2010, 12:59 PM

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I either read books that have been recommended or that I like from the back cover.  That said, I also look for books that are in the area I write so I can keep up with the competition.:-)

God Bless,
#8 - March 01, 2010, 01:19 PM
Susan York Meyers, Children's and YA Author

almost never the cover. I've known too many great books with bad covers, and too many 'meh' books with great covers. That's just the luck of the draw. The writing is what is important. So...I read a little bit.  :yup

#9 - March 01, 2010, 01:44 PM

The cover definitely influences me if it's an author/title I don't know. I tend to like books with lamp posts on the cover. :) Now, I get recommendations from boards like this and my publishing twitter peeps and just try to stay current in YA and MG. But I used to look at the cover, then read the back or inside flap.
#10 - March 01, 2010, 01:48 PM

Fun question, CarlP.

Tiles attract me. After I skim the back cover, I open it up and read a page or two -- from any place in the book. I care less about plot than I do the writing, so the writing is what makes me buy it or put it back on the shelf and move on.
#11 - March 01, 2010, 04:23 PM

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I love covers, but I would never pick a book by one.

I read mysteries.  Always have, even when I was a kid.  After that it is books that something intrigues me about the story line.  Or certian authors.  Books that BB's recommend, although I find that I often read only a select group...

I need to read what the book "jacket" says.

I am completey arbitrary and capricious in my picks. :reading2
#12 - March 01, 2010, 04:35 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

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The cover pulls me in, and the jacket or back cover usually helps me decide.  If not then I read the first page.  But this was all before the blueboards, now I look for specific authors most of the time.
#13 - March 01, 2010, 04:44 PM
Twitter @Shannywriter

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I just wanted to say I think you're awesome for thinking to ask about this, Melissa!  :redflower

3. asking publishers (when I'm at conferences) some version of these two questions: 1) If I walk away with only 1 or 2 books here, what would you recommend? and 2) What book here is really good but not getting a big push?  
#14 - March 01, 2010, 05:28 PM
Visit WRITERS HELPING WRITERS for descriptive thesaurus collections to strengthen your writing, free tools & more!

Awesome question! Covers and titles often attract me to books. However, I'll only ever buy a book by its cover/title if it's by an author I love. If not, I read the jacket.
#15 - March 01, 2010, 05:54 PM

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I read lots of review publications and note books I want to read in my little black book. But when I'm in a bookstore, covers can definitely attract my attention. If I don't like the jacket flap and the first page, though, I'll put it back.
#16 - March 01, 2010, 05:55 PM

I do take covers into consideration, but only as far helping me figure out what type of book it is.  For example, if I'm in the mood for a fantasy, I'll look for covers that have a fantasy feel to them.  Then I look for titles that catch my eye.

Lastly I'll read the back or the jacket flap. Though I do that less nowadays, because I like going in with no expectations.

And of course I always have a TBR list of recommendations made by writing friends.  I usually don't listen to non-writing friends and family, however, because they usually only read bestsellers (and I usually have already read those or don't plan on reading them, ever).
#17 - March 01, 2010, 06:36 PM

1. The author, then:
2. Word of mouth (here, Goodreads, Twitter, FB, etc, etc)
3. Jacketflap

My eye may get caught by a pretty/unique cover or title, but in all honesty, I love books so much that when I'm in a bookstore I tend to give everyone equal opportunity (that's why I try to stay out, I spend hours browsing or spend too much money).

#18 - March 01, 2010, 06:44 PM

Most blueboarders who have read my posts will be familiar with the fact that I am an atrocious reader.  It is usually something on the blurb that makes me want to learn more about the character or I want to learn about the climax in the plot.  I need to feel curious enough to want to read on.  It rarely happens in adult fiction.  I normally choose author I know because I have a good idea that I will enjoy character and plot in the story.
#19 - March 02, 2010, 06:13 AM

I have to admit that I'm attracted by the cover, but it won't make my decision—that comes from the jacket flap and from reading the first page. If the first page gets me, then I'll open randomly and read a bit more. If the writing hooks me, then I'll buy it.
#20 - March 02, 2010, 06:53 AM
CHRISTMAS EVE BLIZZARD, Arbordale Publishing


For me the real test is the first page. I've bought a lot of books that had snappy beginnings and petered out, and I've probably missed some good ones that didn't have a hook right off, but that's how I do it. I have to like the writer's style and voice. I use reader reviews a lot online.
#21 - March 02, 2010, 06:58 AM

1. If I like an author's voice, I tend to try to read everything he/she has written;

2. I keep a list of books I want to read (with suggestions from my writer buddies and organizational help from Good Reads);

3. When just browsing in a bookstore or library, I will pull out a book based on the title, read the jacket and then skim the book for interesting passages or conversation.

I guess I appreciate a good cover for a YA, but it doesn't sway me one way or the other. Of course, this is a little different with a PB. If I love the illustrations, I will definitely snap it up.
#22 - March 02, 2010, 07:08 AM
WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN, Flashlight Press, May 2011
GOOD NEWS NELSON, Story Pie Press, Dec 2012

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1. Author - I read books by people I know or authors I've read before and enjoyed.
2. Genre - I look for books in my genre (MG).
3. First page.
4. Jacket copy.
5. I have been seduced by books on display on the front tables or that have "shelf talkers."
6. The cover influences me the least. I probably won't buy a book with a terrible cover if I don't already know the author. Or if it's got a spider on it (Charlotte excepted).
#23 - March 02, 2010, 09:31 AM

Barb  :owl



What if it's got a snake on the cover?   :ahh
#24 - March 02, 2010, 09:33 AM

Again, it depends on what the snake has to say and I am not talking in anthropomorphic sense. If I think the title of the book will make me want to read more, I will read the blurb and if I am enticed to read it I will make my decision from there.  Whether it is a snake or not wouldn't make a difference or not shouldn't matter.  Personally, I hate snakes, but I've written about crocodiles and I would particularly like to come face to face with one!
#25 - March 02, 2010, 01:39 PM


Next question: 

If you really like the premise of the novel as described on the jacketflap, are you more open-minded about the "first five pages", or must the beginning grab you no matter what you know about the story from the blurb. 
#26 - March 06, 2010, 03:04 PM


To answer the first question late:

I'm drawn to covers, or pretty spines, I'll admit, but I'll just pick up a cool-looking book and put it back if I don't like the writing or the premise. What makes me really choose a book is the writing on page 1. I skip flap copy and read the first paragraph... If I still want to read past page 1, then I'm likely to give it a try and see what the flap says. I love how first chapters are often excerpted online now. That way I can make a list of books I want to read all from the comfort of my couch!

Second question:

The writing has to grab me. You could have an awesome concept that the editor or editorial assistant or whoever wrote out to sound brilliant on the flaps... but if I don't like the writing inside the book, I'm probably not going to read beyond a few pages, or a few sentences.

That's just me, though. I'm picky and weird about books I read. And I'm terribly, horribly impatient.

#27 - March 06, 2010, 04:48 PM


The conflict on the jacket flap has to grab me then I read some dialogue from the middle.  If I like the voice and it sounds authentic, sold.

#28 - March 06, 2010, 08:53 PM


Great questions, Carl. Wish I'd seen this thread before I posted a similar blog on Wednesday. My bookstore/library criteria are below (which is where I do most of my browsing; targetted finds are done on-line and usually have more to do with recommendations and excerpts than anything else).

1. Cover/Title/Author
2. Jacketflap
3. The first 2-3 paragraphs
4. Page 70
#29 - March 06, 2010, 09:47 PM

I look at the genre and feel of the book from the cover and title and if it looks at all intriguing then I flip into the middle somewhere and start reading. If I like the voice and feel a need to find out what's going on, I'll buy it.
#30 - March 06, 2010, 10:05 PM


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