View Full Version : When you go shopping for books...

07-03-2015, 07:53 PM
What makes you buy a book? I found out that I literally judge a book by it's cover. If it has a good cover (or better yet, good title), I pick it up and read the plot summary on the back (and I make sure it's not about vampires, terrorists or high school LOL). If I like the plot, I read a few random pages in the middle, because the first page always bores me. :tongue
At this point, anything that I find interesting in these random pages is enough to make me buy the book, since there aren't many that can do that :(.

What about you?

07-03-2015, 07:59 PM
Covers definitely draw me in. Then it's pretty even weighted between jacket copy and reading the first page or so to get a feel for the writing.

I buy a lot of books on recommendations for others, and sometimes based on reviews.

07-03-2015, 08:00 PM
I'm looking for authors that I like, but I admit that a good-looking cover can and will pique my interest. I'm also kind of a snob about preferring hardcovers to paperbacks, which I view as hardcovers ugly stepchildren. Whenever I'm out looking for books, I'm looking for hardcovers in good condition. I may pick up an attractive hardcover even if it's from an author/genre that doesn't interest me. By contrast, I may pass on a paperback even if it's a book I was looking for.

07-03-2015, 08:32 PM
A good cover, I guess (or rather a cover that appeals to me. I guess that's the same thing).

A good rule I've come up with that I'll buy online books by authors I know (say, a Lee Child or something), but in a book shop I'll only buy from an author I've never heard of. Good way to open yourself up to new stuff.

07-03-2015, 09:05 PM
If I bought books because of the cover, I'd own a thousand books I hated, and wouldn't own several thousand I love. Nothing is less important to me than the cover, except possibly for reviews of the book.

I buy first because it's a writer I know I enjoy. These buys are automatic. Then I buy because a few trusted friends tell me they enjoyed the book.

After this, for writers/books I've never heard of, I probably won't buy until I've tested the waters at the library. I've bought too many clunkers from new writers to part with very much money before I know I enjoy the writer's stories, characters, and style.

But why buy or not buy a book because of the cover? The writer didn't choose the cover, and it has no bearing on quality of story or writing.

07-03-2015, 10:06 PM
Well, if you're in a bookstore with thousands of choices, wanting to make a quick impulse buy, you kind of have to make snap judgements based on what's on the outside, otherwise you'll be there all day. (Which may not be objectionable to you or me, but the store owners get so fussy after the first full day! ;P)

Going off books I haven't heard of before, I'd say the title has a bit more weight (since I see more of those than I do covers when they're all lined up on a shelf) but yeah, I will make snap judgements on a title + cover art before I pick up the book to actually read the blurb (which usually determines the buy/put down decision.) Cover art gets a say mostly because it clues me in to genre. I wouldn't pick up a book that looks like a romance, for example, because... I just don't enjoy romances.

That said, I remember very few of these snap judgements, so if the book came to me, say, online with an interesting blurb, I'd probably check it out without even remembering I'd passed on it before.

07-03-2015, 10:06 PM
Favorite authors I will buy, period. For unknowns (to me), I won't buy/not buy a book because of its cover - but if the cover looks amateurish, I figure the writing inside probably is as well. The cover gets me to look at the book - sampling a few random pages decides whether or not I'll buy it. (Which is why I don't buy unknowns online - I want the sample pages to be my choice, not cherry-picked by author/publisher/seller.)

07-06-2015, 05:17 AM
I'm with Jamesritchie, in that if I don't know the author, I'll try it at the library first. I buy books from authors I know, I borrow authors I don't and I buy on-line for second-hand books because I'm looking for something out-of-print and specific, as it's simpler than haunting used bookstores in vain hopes of finding what I want.

Covers are a way of attracting my attention, but not a deciding factor. On-line, a big sample or 'Look Inside' will help, or back-copy that hits all the right notes, or a review by someone I know and trust (not random strangers on Amazon or Goodreads).

07-06-2015, 05:29 AM
I usually only buy books if I've enjoyed others by the author, or if it's got really good reviews. I generally find books I want to read through Goodreads, and then get them from the library.

The cover is definitely part of what attracts me to a book - if I see a gorgeous cover, I'll click on the link or take it off the shelf. But the blurb has to convince me to read it (and if I'm at a library or bookstore, I'll skim a few pages to see if the writing's good). A cover alone can't sell a book I'm not interested in, and I'll read a book that sounds good even if the cover's not very nice.

ETA: When I'm on Goodreads, I take average ratings into account too. They're not a perfect way to judge the quality of a book, but generally if it has a low average rating it's not worth the read.

07-06-2015, 02:13 PM
If I'm browsing through books by authors I'm not familiar with, a good cover and/or title can prompt me to pick up the book. I scan the cover copy to see if the story sounds interesting, though I'm also leery of story descriptions, since they're sometimes misleading and can contain spoilers.

The real test, for me, is the writing. I can usually tell by reading the first page whether the author has a voice and style I'll find pleasing. If they don't, the book goes back on the shelf for sure.

07-07-2015, 02:11 AM
Year of publication. I only read books published in certain years. That's probably my main criteria. Foolish to be sure, but you asked ;-)

07-07-2015, 03:42 AM
I heard (my daughter seems to think this is a "thing") that teal or light blue covers tend to attract impulse buyers. *shrugs*

07-07-2015, 04:13 AM
I buy authors I know and like, although that has backfired a couple of times. Some authors write several series, and I like some but not all. I'm with Corsairs in wanting hardbacks. The only MMP and TP I buy are ones that only come that way. I have an ongoing list with my fave indie store. I send them an email with what I want, they charge my card, and I go in every couple of months and pick up the stash.

If I see a review in the Sunday paper and it sounds good, I'll try the library first. If I like it, then I'll buy, even though I've already read it.

For filling in series, I have a used book store I like. Even if they don't have it, they can search the inventories all over the country and order things in.

I really can't say I pay much attention to covers or titles.


07-07-2015, 04:54 AM
Like a lot pf people, i usually but authors that i know about. The cover isn't really be a big factor for me, but i would read the blurb and the first couple of pages to determine if i will buy a book.

Layla Nahar
07-11-2015, 04:34 AM
A cover - or title - will make me pick up a book. A blurb that appeals will make me open it, and if I can manage the first page, usually (*ususally*) the book will be decent. I only invest in books by by browsing. Recommendations usually fail for me.

07-11-2015, 04:45 AM
I don't give a shit about covers. I ignore them. I know I'm apparently unusual in that regard.

I don't care about titles either. I appreciate a good one, but I never choose a book based on one.

When I'm not reading authors I already like, I read authors liked by authors I like.

When I'm not reading authors liked by authors I like, I read authors liked by readers I trust.

07-18-2015, 05:47 AM
I'm a bit embarrassed to say, but because I like the feel of a book, I tend to buy at our local bookstore. Not having much money, though, I browse the bargain bin for something interesting, usually. It's pretty hit/miss. I found one book I loved up until an unnecessary romance plot took up a chapter and I didn't find the ending all that good, either, but I don't regret reading it. My last pick-up I've barely gotten past chapter 2. Sigh.

07-18-2015, 07:13 AM
i usually look for a book that is in one of my favorite genres first. then, i check the cover to see which one looks the most interesting. i also tend to check the price first. after that, i read over the summary and if it looks good enough, i buy it.

07-18-2015, 08:11 AM
In the old days, I'd go to the book store and browse the SF and F and the general fiction sections. Look and see if my favorite authors had anything new. If not, I'd scan titles and covers, and if something looked interesting, I'd read the back cover copy, maybe skim the first page or two. If It looked interesting, I'd buy it.

I don't go to brick and mortar bookstores much anymore, unless I'm lucky enough to run across one. So I mostly buy online. Nowadays, I tend to hear about new authors from blogs, or on writing sites like this one, or at writing workshops. Sometimes I'll be looking specifically for books by a certain author on B&N or Amazon, and something in the "readers who bought this book also bought this one" suggestions will catch my eye. I find it harder to just browse books these days. Sometimes I get ideas from goodreads too.

With so many books waiting to be read in my shelves or on my ipad, though, it's rare for me actually just go book shopping because I have nothing to read. It's more that I hear about something that sounds interesting from some other source, or I see a book that looks cool when I'm looking for something else.

I don't really notice or care about prices unless a book is unusually expensive (some academic books give me pause). If I have a choice, I'll go with a paperback usually, and I buy a lot of ebooks these days too. But I don't base my choice on one book being on sale and one book not unless it's really a toss up (and even so, I'm more likely to buy both). I don't have any problem with spending money on a writer I've never read before. If it's not my taste, I won't buy another by that person probably, but I'm lucky enough to have a little discretionary money and books are my main self-indulgence. I figure I'd want people to take a chance on me if I ever get published, so I should do the same for other new authors.

07-18-2015, 11:15 AM
I will admit that a pretty cover makes it more likely that i will look inside a book. But if that book has shitty writing, it goes right back on the shelf. If i get through a chapter or two and absolutely love it, I will buy it. If I'm still unsure, I will read a bit more and then look up the reviews in goodreads.

So yeah, I would say that books with pretty covers have an advantage, since I might completely skip over a book with a cover that I don't like. However, the English section at my local bookstores is literally only one shelf, and only a fraction of that is the genre I want to read, so I usually do look into every book they have. At least on the rare occasion I actually find myself in a bookstore. I do most of my book shopping on Amazon, since, you know, they have all dem books in the original language. And online, I find covers matter a lot less. Unless it's really really REALLY stupid.

07-18-2015, 12:47 PM
I think for me, bland covers or covers that don't let me know the book is the sort of thing I'm looking for can make me pass a book over. For instance, if I'm looking for fantasy or SF, the cover doesn't necessarily have to be stunning (though stunning will get my attention), but if it doesn't look like the cover of a fantasy or SF novel, or if it looks too bland and generic, it may not catch my attention if there's a bunch of other books it's competing with. If it hints at being the kind of fantasy and setting I'm drawn to, I'm more likely to pick it up.

But if I'm looking at a book where the author is known to me, or it's been recommended by people I trust, then a bleh cover doesn't matter so much.

07-18-2015, 02:02 PM
I get most of my fiction books from op shops.

I will scan the shelf book-by-book, paying particular attention to authors. I've picked up plenty of books that I've never heard of, and sometimes I like them and sometimes I don't. Some I pick up because of their cover. Some I pick up because I've heard of that particular book or author before.

I rarely spend more than $5 on a book, unless it's something I'd really been hanging out for and it's a hard cover in great condition.

07-18-2015, 02:58 PM
... if I bought books by their covers I would buy everyone on the shelves. Covers these days are terrific. Downright beautiful to be precise and worthy of being displayed in the Louvre IMO. So I kinda ignore the covers and quickly turn to the text. And whatcha know. That's often terrific too !

07-18-2015, 04:01 PM
I don't notice covers, at least not consciously. And I confess I'm often baffled when someone says a cover is bad. I usually can't tell why they think that. To me, they mostly look alike. If you scan the YA fantasy shelves, you'll probably find half a dozen covers with a sword or long knife down the center.

Like James Ritchie, I first buy books from authors I've read and liked, then on recommendations from people I trust. The corollary, btw, is if an author disappoints me, I'm done. I don't give them another chance.

07-18-2015, 04:25 PM
I often try to read some of it at the library. If I like it then I put it on my "to-buy" list on Goodreads. Covers draw me in, mainly die to me being drawn to visual aesthetics. I usually go for the used bookstore to *seriously* buy.

I have to precure the money first. XD Unless my BF is buying something for himself.

07-18-2015, 04:56 PM
In order:

1) The next book in a series I like.
2) A book by an author I like.
3) A reference or non-fiction book in something I'm interested in by a reputable author.
4) Random books that pop up in recommendations by other authors or readers I respect.
5) A freebie first book in a series in a genre I like.
6) A book my wife picked up that I happen to try.
7) Kindle Unlimited browsing in a genre.
8) Books that get on my radar through some other means.
9) Cheap books on the remainder table or in a used bookstore that look interesting.
10) Gift books.
11) Reviews on internet sites like Amazon, Good Reads, etc. Used to be a lot higher on my list years ago but too many people are gaming reviews now, especially on Kindle.

I haven't bought a book because the cover attracted me since the Pleistocene age. Fortunately, I haven't turned down books solely by the cover either.


07-21-2015, 11:45 PM
I would like to say I buy books by authors I know or books I have heard about or read reviews on or recommendations from friends. That's always the plan, and it works just fine when I am buying for my Kindle. But there is something about an actual bookstore that always leads to unintended buys. I will go in for something specific most of the time but leave with a new stack for my night stand.

For me, the back cover matters more than the front. If it sounds like a good story, I just can't resist. Sometimes, I also ask the people working there what they are reading. Or I can tell them which authors I tend to like and they can usually introduce me to something new. I don't know if they are helpful everywhere, but there are a few independent bookstores near me. I like giving them my business.

I wouldn't say a cover has any effect on my buying, but a title can sometimes sound interesting enough to get me to pick it up (reading a few pages just to make sure.)

I don't think there is a right or wrong way to buying books. But if you feel like you need a little help deciding what books to read, check out reviews, ask friends what they're reading or bookstore employees.

07-28-2015, 04:50 PM
When I go into a bookstore, my mind goes blank. I can't remember any author names or titles (who wrote that book I'm reading, oh, what was the title?)

So for me, browsing is essential and yes, an interesting, eye-catching cover, a clever title, but if the blurb and the few sample pages don't interest me, then I'm off scanning shelves again until something else catches my eye.

Maze Runner
07-28-2015, 06:51 PM
If it's someone I don't know, it's the voice (or is it style? I'm still not clear on the difference). I won't buy a book based on a great cover, but I might not open a book if it's a bad cover.

07-29-2015, 10:39 PM
If something seems interesting based on the description, I double check the phone for some reviews to get an idea. Or I go shopping with certain authors in mind based on recommendations or something I've read that caught my attention in a blog or article somewhere.

If I really love the cover, and it's used / cheap, I might buy the book specifcally for the cover. I figure I'm buying inexpensive art, with the possibility of a good story to come with it as a bonus.

07-29-2015, 10:44 PM
I get a lot of recommendations through social media, particularly Twitter and Instagram. That's one way. Also...COVER IS KING. It get's the books foot in my door. Then I read the synopsis. Then I do the Page 40 test.

If I get drawn in on page 40, apparently, I'll get drawn in by the book. It seems to work well for me...I've been doing it for about twenty years.

Also...I luxuriate in the smell, touch, feel decadence of a bookstore...but I only read on my Smartphone's Kindle app. So, I walk the aisles at whatever bookstore, make my choices and then download them. I like reading on my screen so much now, that if I bought the paper edition I wouldn't even read it. I will often, if I want the hardcover or paperback on my bookshelf, buy that...and then download a copy in order to actually read it.

07-30-2015, 08:32 AM
I pretty much buy online (kindle). If there are no sample chapters, it has to come by very strong word of mouth.

If the sample chapters turn me off, I pass.

Covers interest me. I know that's superficial, but they do impact my choice. If a self pubbed author has a truly hideous or I'll-conceived cover, then I seriously (seriously) doubt his/her ability to write something good. I mean, if they pick a terrible cover, that says a lot about their aesthetic and taste.

I'm easier on trade published covers as I know authors often don't have a choice there.

07-30-2015, 06:23 PM
I went shopping at the local Half Price Books just last night, and the experience confirms what I suspected: I'm a shameless cover junkie.

First, I never even bothered to look at the paperback section. Paperbacks are cheap. Hardcovers are classy. Is that actually true? Probably not, but my book-snobbish mind seems to think so.

Second, condition counts. I found one book I'd been looking for, yet I left it on the shelf because the cloth cover was torn. It simply won't be pretty enough for my bookshelf! Maybe I'm worried that the words inside are somehow damaged, too? Again, I'm a nerd.

And yes, that cover makes a difference. After picking up one book that I was looking for, I added two others - partly on the strength of their covers. Now to be fair, I knew both authors (either by reading their previous work or by reputation), but I doubt I make those impulse purchases if the covers aren't sharp.

So there you go. For me, covers matter, as does author reputation and whether I was specifically seeking the book out. I'd say those are the three biggest factors for me. A fourth could be recommendations on the back cover by authors I recognize and respect. I can't think of other influencing factors. I probably should read the first few pages to see what I think, but I always end up saving that for when I get home and first crack the book open.

07-31-2015, 10:24 AM
I have the WORST luck when it comes to buying books without recommendations. I accidentally bought 50 Shades of Grey not knowing it was Twilight fanfiction. :| Tried so hard to read that book and couldn't get through the first 6th of it. Stuff like that happens to me whenever I read something not recommended in some way.

07-31-2015, 07:35 PM
First, I never even bothered to look at the paperback section. Paperbacks are cheap. Hardcovers are classy. Is that actually true? Probably not, but my book-snobbish mind seems to think so.

I'm exactly the opposite. I rarely look at hardcovers at Half Price. I'm looking for paperbacks with excellent cover art, like Frank Frazetta, James Bama, or other great cover artists. Hardcovers don't generally have art except on the dust jacket and often that is missing or damaged.

07-31-2015, 08:20 PM
I also judge books by their covers, but after the disappointment of Bret Easton Ellis' "Less than Zero" not being about bull terriers as the cover suggested, I do a thorough reading of any and all short texts on and in the book. And obviously, subject matter.