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Susan Breen
04-06-2008, 10:32 PM
I was reading through my amazon reviews and I came across one very interesting comment by someone who said that instead of looking at the opening page of a book, when she's deciding whether or not to buy it, she looks at page 49. This seemed like such a great idea (all right, she gave me a good review). Does anyone else do this?

mscelina
04-06-2008, 10:43 PM
I have never heard of any such thing. Then again, I'm kerflubbled by the page 49 thing. Does page 49 exhibit, univerally, a greater skill of writing than the other, say, 400 pages? Or, does the reader assume that by that point, a writer will have found his/her voice? Or is it completely arbritary?

Enquiring minds want to know.

ChaosTitan
04-06-2008, 10:44 PM
What exactly does she look for on page 49 that affects her purchasing decision?

I read the blurb, look at the cover, maybe thumb a few pages to check POV and narrative style.

Perks
04-06-2008, 10:50 PM
That's a very clever idea. I'm now going to look at page 49 in my favorite books to see if it holds.

kristie911
04-06-2008, 10:59 PM
I guess everyone has their own way and this happens to be hers.

I usually pick up a book based on the cover (or publisher because I've never been disappointed in a MIRA published book). Read the back...if I like it, I read the first page. If the first page grabs me, I buy it.

Perks
04-06-2008, 11:01 PM
What exactly does she look for on page 49 that affects her purchasing decision?

Engaging writing.

ChaosTitan
04-06-2008, 11:02 PM
Engaging writing.

:D

Perks
04-06-2008, 11:07 PM
Lol! I wasn't being snippy! It's true. I think to buy a book at random, you'd first see it on the shelf, then you'd look at the blurb, then you'd look at the writing. It's easy for it to be inspired on page one. But what does it sound like on lonely, old, mundane forty-nine?

I think it's a good measure.

KTC
04-06-2008, 11:30 PM
I do this every time I pick up a book at a bookstore or library that I have never before come across. BUT I've only ever heard of it as THE PAGE 40 TEST. It's always been page 40. The idea is that if you pick up a book at random and read the entire page 40 and like it, chances are you will like the book. I was skeptical of this, but after trying it years ago... I kept doing it. I have about a 95% success rate. If I like page 40, I like the rest of the book. Sometimes, if I do not like page 40 but really want to read the book anyway, I do so. And quite often I don't like the book when I do this. I am not about the not read a book because it failed my Page 40 test... but it seems to work almost every time.

Bartholomew
04-06-2008, 11:38 PM
This method has the added advantage of being very similar to a movie preview. You get to see some random action from the middle. In addition to seeing if the writing style is something you like, you also get to see if the action is up your alley.

My father and I always used page 50, though. It doesn't really matter, though.

mada
04-07-2008, 12:07 AM
I'm going to try this! I have a huge TBR pile, and now I'm going to test the theory. Whichever has the best page 49 will be the next book I read.

Phaeal
04-07-2008, 02:00 AM
The reviewer is wrong. It's page 51. I thought everyone knew this.

veinglory
04-07-2008, 02:30 AM
No, 'tis 37 and always has been.

heathens.

KTC
04-07-2008, 02:43 AM
I won't even dignify that with a response. Hmph.

Khazarkhum
04-07-2008, 02:46 AM
42

DWSTXS
04-07-2008, 02:48 AM
I've heard 40, 49, 69 and 219.

maestrowork
04-07-2008, 02:57 AM
Actually it's not a new idea, but the actual number is arbitrary. Is it 49, 59, or 69? I usually read the first few paragraphs, then flip randomly to the middle, then somewhere in the 3/4 part of the book. If it's still interesting (or better -- if it's even more engaging as the book goes on), I'll buy.

StoryG27
04-07-2008, 03:05 AM
My book buying ritual used to be a lot like Ray's. I'd read the first paragraph or so, if I liked it, I just flip through the book, stop on some random page somewhere near the middle and read another paragraph. If I liked it, I'd buy it. If not, well, then it's back to scanning the shelves for one that will hold my attention. Now, I'm usually so pressed for time that I read the blurb, reviews if they have it, looking for key words, and then sort of scan a page if I have the time. I usually buy almost at random now and hope for the best. Someday I'll have the time I would like to browse books again, someday soon.

ishtar'sgate
04-07-2008, 04:16 AM
I tried this method on some books on my shelf and nope, it wouldn't work for me. I like to see how the author sets up the story, probably because I find opening paragraphs to be critical. If an author can't intrigue me with the first page, I doubt very much I'll be any more interested farther in. This doesn't mean there has to be some earthshattering event right off the bat but it does mean the writing must be good and like the pied piper, entice me to follow.
Linnea

donroc
04-07-2008, 04:32 AM
What? And miss "It was a dark and stormy night?" :roll:

Soccer Mom
04-07-2008, 04:40 AM
I read the first paragraph, then I just open a book to a random place and read. If it hooks me, I buy it. but I've never insisted on a specific page.

y'all are weird. :D

Jenifer
04-07-2008, 06:11 PM
42

Lock thread.

GeorgieB
04-07-2008, 06:11 PM
42

Ah, at last! Someone knew the correct page to read first. :hooray:

That's the answer to everything.

JimmyB27
04-07-2008, 06:32 PM
So, if I make sure that pages 40, 42, 49, 51, 59, 69 and 219 are shit hot, I can screw around with the rest of the book and still make a killing?

maestrowork
04-07-2008, 06:36 PM
So, if I make sure that pages 40, 42, 49, 51, 59, 69 and 219 are shit hot, I can screw around with the rest of the book and still make a killing?

No, you forgot page 666.

Shadow_Ferret
04-07-2008, 06:44 PM
This just seems so weird. How do you understand what's going on when you read a page in the middle? You have no idea who the people are, what the conflicts are, or anything.

I can't imagine how reading a middle page could do anything other than confuse you.

Jenifer
04-07-2008, 07:05 PM
This just seems so weird. How do you understand what's going on when you read a page in the middle? You have no idea who the people are, what the conflicts are, or anything.

I can't imagine how reading a middle page could do anything other than confuse you.

I do it to see what the writing is like... not to get into the story. You're right, that makes no sense. If I just can't stomach the writing, I'm not going to care about the story... so that comes first for me in choosing whether or not to buy a book.

I don't have a specific page to check... that's pretty ridiculous. :) But I do open to the middle of the book and read a page or two before I buy.

Susan B
04-08-2008, 01:29 AM
Fascinating!

Never heard about any magic number for checking out whether a book starts to "sag in the middle."

Decided to try it with the book closest at hand: my own. Went to the file on my computer. (No telling, of course, how this will correspond to the page numbers of the finished book, when it comes out in December.)

I went to p. 49. And sure enough, I ended up at what I consider a "good spot." A funny episode, way more "showing" than "telling," in a Cajun music memoir that certainly has some stretches that are more earnest in tone. It would be a good spot for a reader to land. Even I had fun re-reading it--and believe me, after endless hours of proofreading, I don't find that true for lots of the book :-)

Just to test it out, I looked at p. 48, p 50. Even p. 41. Definitely not as engaging!

(On p. 49 my husband and I try to test out our Cajun dance lessons at a place where the stakes are high: at a dance hall in Louisiana, our first time there.)

Anyone else want to check out their manuscripts?

KTC
04-08-2008, 02:23 AM
This just seems so weird. How do you understand what's going on when you read a page in the middle? You have no idea who the people are, what the conflicts are, or anything.

I can't imagine how reading a middle page could do anything other than confuse you.


I don't do the PAGE 40 test in the hopes of understanding what's going on on page 40. I do it to see if it locks me in... if it 'fits' me.

Shadow_Ferret
04-08-2008, 03:33 AM
Hmm. I guess I can't do that. To me, if I don't understand the story, then its pretty much just gibberish.

But then the quality of writing has always been secondary to the quality of the story to me. I've never been the sort to go gah-gah over a well-written sentence, only an interesting story line.