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Registered Members => Book Talk => Topic started by: CarlP on March 01, 2010, 06:50 AM

Title: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: CarlP on March 01, 2010, 06:50 AM
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?
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: YAmom on March 01, 2010, 07:06 AM
If the title or author is one I've heard of, that would be enough. Otherwise I read the back cover.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: andracill on March 01, 2010, 08:34 AM
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).
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Taylor on March 01, 2010, 08:38 AM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Melissa on March 01, 2010, 09:28 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. 
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Lill on March 01, 2010, 11:29 AM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: roskoebaby on March 01, 2010, 12:59 PM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: sameyers on March 01, 2010, 01:19 PM
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,
Susan
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: AuntyBooks on March 01, 2010, 01:44 PM
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

eab
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: MysteryRobin on March 01, 2010, 01:48 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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: CC on March 01, 2010, 04:23 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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Liz Straw on March 01, 2010, 04:35 PM
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
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Shannywriter on March 01, 2010, 04:44 PM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Angela Ackerman (aka MOMZILLA) on March 01, 2010, 05:28 PM
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?  
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: strawberryswing on March 01, 2010, 05:54 PM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: rab on March 01, 2010, 05:55 PM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: elissacruz on March 01, 2010, 06:36 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).
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: PJV on March 01, 2010, 06:44 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).

Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: thunderingelephants on March 02, 2010, 06:13 AM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: AV on March 02, 2010, 06:53 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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Kurtis on March 02, 2010, 06:58 AM
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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Just Jodi on March 02, 2010, 07:08 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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Barbara Etlin on March 02, 2010, 09:31 AM
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).
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Kurtis on March 02, 2010, 09:33 AM
What if it's got a snake on the cover?   :ahh
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: thunderingelephants on March 02, 2010, 01:39 PM
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!
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: CarlP on March 06, 2010, 03:04 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. 
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: novaren on March 06, 2010, 04:48 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.

Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: HJV on March 06, 2010, 08:53 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.

Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: KenH on March 06, 2010, 09:47 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
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: bechick108 on March 06, 2010, 10:05 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.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: thunderingelephants on March 07, 2010, 09:54 AM
I have a related question: what would make you want to pick one of your own books from the shelves?
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Shannywriter on March 07, 2010, 10:40 AM
I think the same thing as anyone else's, cover interest and reading the inside flap or back cover.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Lea on March 09, 2010, 04:26 PM
Great questions! What influences me:

1. Genre of my current WIP (mg these days).
2. Recommendations from a couple of writing buddies with similar taste in books.
3. Authors I've already read and loved.
4. Jacketflap and first pages.


Covers don't matter to me. Slick covers sometimes signal the worst books for me! But I'm guessing it's a matter of personal taste, like all artwork is.



Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Aimee W. on March 09, 2010, 04:58 PM
I'm a tool. The cover hooks me and the jacket copy reels me in.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Patrick on March 17, 2010, 01:20 PM
I'm a tool. The cover hooks me and the jacket copy reels me in.

Me too!
Other considerations: I like new releases and I like seeing an award medal on the cover.

For PBs, the title and art must convince me that they are about real alternate worlds that exist whether I read the book or not. Then, I want to read the book to see what those worlds are like.

Kind of like how I know these guys are real somewhere:  :irishbeer
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: SB on March 17, 2010, 01:43 PM
I, too, am a marketing dupe -- I will totally pick up a book if I like the cover, even faster if the title's good, and give the jacket copy a look to see if it's a story I think I'd like.  (I don't pay as much attention to the cover if I've already been hooked by word-of-mouth, and probably no attention at all if I'm familiar with the author's work and have liked those other books.)
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: nhatch on March 17, 2010, 03:04 PM
I'm drawn to titles first, read jacket copy second and then the first pages. If I am familiar with an author, I'll probably buy the book. I pretty much stick to my genre, but if the writing and plot are interesting, I'll try it. I can appreciate a good cover, won't judge a book by it ;)

Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: dianebailey on March 17, 2010, 04:08 PM

So much of my reading these days is either by recommendation or because I know about the book in some other way, so that's probably what I go by first. However, I was in  Borders the other day, and I find I am attracted to a good cover (or more likely, turned away by one I don't like) and I love quirky titles. Next I go with jacket copy and reviews. I actually don't usually read much of the book itself before choosing it, if any. So I guess I'm hooked more by story than by voice, although I'm disappointed if the voice doesn't deliver. Of course, many books use excerpts on the jacket copy, so those will get me through voice. I just tend to look at story first.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: thunderingelephants on March 18, 2010, 07:33 AM
If I'm getting bored in the first page or two .. . I'll probably skim the end .. and if the end is interesting .. I'll go read the middle.

Doesn't skimming to the conclusion/end not spoil it for you?  I doubt I could do that and get distracted by the fact that I know exactly what will happen.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Katrina S. Forest on March 21, 2010, 07:02 PM
I trust my friends to give me good recommendations. I'll also keep an eye on what books have won major awards.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: Ambition on March 21, 2010, 07:11 PM
I am a marketer's dream shopper - seriously! If I see a book cover that is unique I ALWAYS pick it up and read the jacket flap. If the story concept seems interesting I move to the first page and if that is good I usually buy it. I do pick a lot of my books based on recommendations and authors I've met from this board too. I don't always stick to my genre so it really is what cover catches my eye. I know I should be ashamed :hiding - sorry.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: thunderingelephants on March 22, 2010, 09:58 AM
I'm drawn to titles first, read jacket copy second and then the first pages. If I am familiar with an author, I'll probably buy the book. I pretty much stick to my genre, but if the writing and plot are interesting, I'll try it. I can appreciate a good cover, won't judge a book by it ;)


I am kind of like that.  The cover doesn't really bother me, but the title would.  Especially since I tend to choose in my own work that I hope would want to lure someone to want to read more.  Also I like think I could relate to the character by reading the blurb.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: KCHWriter on March 22, 2010, 10:05 AM
Back cover copy, mostly!  Though lately I've been mostly reading on my Kindle, which has really changed my buying habits.  Now, I'm more likely to head to Amazon, browse the latest YA releases, and download a sample chapter from a half-dozen at a time (choosing from the blurbs that interest me).  If I'm enjoying the sample chapter, I buy the book; if I'm not interested after reading the sample, then I don't.  Interestingly enough, since I started reading/buying on my Kindle, I'd say I buy/read two to three times more books than I did before.  The Kindle (and similar e-readers) are *very* dangerous for impulse buyers like me who suddenly find themselves with nothing to read at 10 p.m. at night. 
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: C. Lee on March 25, 2010, 09:11 AM
The cover has a lot to do with whether or not I pick up a book, well, that and if I know the author. The opening has to catch my interest, but even if it doesn't I usually give the book more time and read the blurbs or skim a few chapters to get a sense of the style.
Title: Re: What Makes You Choose a Book?
Post by: MaryWitzl on March 25, 2010, 09:51 AM
I was an art major and I love good covers, but I don't think I've ever picked a book because of the cover. I tend to pulled in by the first page. If I like the writing on the first page, I'm in. If I've heard raves about the book but don't find myself drawn in by the cover, I'll flip to a few random pages, skim, then decide to buy or not to buy. And sometimes there will be such a fantastic review (from a really good reviewer), I'll buy just because of that. But that's usually when I'm in a hurry and really desperate.