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ande
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#13: What gets you to buy a book?

[ Edited ]
Book Explorers:
 
I've been very busy of late. Many of events, lots of travel (I have many sightings to add to BOOK SNOOP) and a few new exciting LVF books coming your way in 2008 (more on that at a later date).
 
On Saturday Kris Holloway, one of the authors the Literary Ventures Fund supports, read from Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali, at the Harvard Medical School where the Nobel-prize-winning Physicians for Human Rights was hosting a symposium. On the way into the auditorium the hallway was lined with tables laden with materials about health and human rights topics. Kris' table was loaded with books as well as information about the clinic in Mali she is helping to fund. No one buys books on the way in, I've noticed. But the audience heard her powerful and compassionate reading from Monique. And they heard her message of hope about how individuals with few resources can make their mark on the world and improve it. So on the way out, lots and lots of people bought books, got them signed and also talked with Kris and signed up to get emails about the clinic's progress. Check out www.moniquemangorains.com to see if she is reading in your area. I promise you it is an experience not to be missed.
 
I've attended the Massachusetts Book Awards a few weeks. It had been an awful week with all sorts of things going wrong. I was frazzled and cranky but somehow I knew I would be restored if I went. And I was. The high point for me was poet Louise Gluck reading from Averno. I have to admit that I'm not a consistent lover of poetry -- or maybe I've read and listened to too much bad poetry, but sign me up for Louise Gluck anytime. She read from the poem "October" that had a message that was a tonic and suddenly I felt just fine. At the reception afterward I thanked her, bought a copy of Averno and had her sign it. I read it on the subway home and I was the only person in sight reading poetry.
 
I think a lot about what spurs people to buy a book whether it is on a table at an event or in a store -- one you can walk into or logon to. At the Literary Ventures Fund we work closely with our publishing partners and many ask us to tweak the book's cover design and copy. Sometimes a publisher will have grade-A blurbs from famous authors but not use them on the cover until we suggest it. Or they may not tout an author's previous books or the awards an author has won. A book's cover is its face to the world and given all the books vying for attention you don't get too much of the reader/buyer's attention when they are browsing.
 
So I wonder, Book Explorers: What gets you to buy a book?
  • An inspiring reading by an author?
  • A review?
  • Blog discussion?
  • A friend's recommendation?
  • A great cover illustration or photo?
  • Where it is placed at the bookstore or online site?
  • Blurbs by authors you like?
  • An author's awards or previous books?
I'd love to hear what makes you take the plunge.
 
Ande
 


Message Edited by ande on 03-10-2008 08:11 PM
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Crystal8i8
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

Sometimes it's just the smallest thing that inspires me.  Titles are very important when I pick out a book, not necessarily a cover.  For instance I once picked up a book called The Butterfly House just because of that and there were Butterflies on the cover (i love them can you tell?) I didn't even read about the book, just picked it up and purchased it.  It actually wasn't about Butterflies that much, but it was a beautifully written story about 2 girls growing up.  I read whatever I can lay my hands on.  I have even been known to read a book through even if I don't like it.  I think I have a tendency when it come to books to try and read everything.
The Butterfly Girl 8i8

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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ande
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

If I recall, Crystal, you've said in past posts that you're in your 20s. I love that you read as much as you do because many of the latest studies (which I don't believe totally, if you've read my previous posts) point to lack of interest in books by people in your age group. So, cheers and congrats to you!
 
Butterflies, huh? Well, you must be attracted to the cover of People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks. Have you read it?
 
Ande
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dhaupt
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

Well usually a recommendation from a friend who likes the same kind of book will get me to buy it and also if it's from an author that I know and love.
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IBIS
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?



ande wrote:
Book Explorers: What gets you to buy a book?
  • An inspiring reading by an author?
  • A review?
  • Blog discussion?
  • A friend's recommendation?
  • A great cover illustration or photo?
  • Where it is placed at the bookstore or online site?
  • Blurbs by authors you like?
  • An author's awards or previous books?

I think a combination of all the above reasons motivates me to part with my money... in this order of importance:
 
1. Knowing the author's previous work.  I'm not very adventurous when it comes to reading new writers cold. But the minute I find authors whose work resonate with me, I will hunt down their previous works and read them with lightning speed. If they have a series, I automatically click into SERIES mentality.
 
2. Reviews from NYT or the New York Review of Books. Although I have a pet peeve with reviewers who share too much about themselves, or who spoil plot points, I do enjoy reading reviews. Some the reviews are amazIngly well-written, and point me in directions that I would never have found for myself.
 
3. Beautiful cover designs. My eyes zero in on beautifully designed covers, and my hands automatically reach out  to them. If the blurb is well written and piques my interest, the sale is made.
 
The least reasons why I would buy a book:
1. I usually don't go by friends' recommendations unless our tastes are similar.
2. I'm not savvy enough or smart enough to read blogs.
3. I'm leery of famous authors' recommendations.
4. And the least motivation is how it's placed in the bookstore. I regress to my inner 2-year old when I think others want me to buy something. I automatically swing into automatic NO mode.
 
Interesting topic, Ande.
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IBIS

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ande
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

Some authors I know who have books with women characters have told me that their publishers make sure there is a "female" feel to the cover if not an overt image of a woman. This is especially true on the paperback version because women bookgroups often adopt the book in paperback. Have you noticed this either as a consumer or member of a book group?
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mwinasu
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

Our book clubis a little older perhaps.  Only two of the past five have pictures of people.  I know that the cover can make me pick up a book, but if it does not grab me as I skim it I move on.  For me it is the subject and the tone of the writing that win me. 
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ande
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

That leads to another question: how does your book club decide what to read?
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IBIS
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?



ande wrote:
That leads to another question: how does your book club decide what to read?


I belong to my local library's neighborhood discussion book club. Somehow we wound up with 12 women.... where are all our men readers?
 
As a group, we choose a theme, and every member suggests one book for that specific theme. When it's their turn, that member guides the discussion.

For example, this year we chose an international theme, stories that take place somewhere other than the United States. Some titles were:
 
 A Kiss for Maddelena by Christopher Castellani
What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin
Waiting by Ha Jin
The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison 
A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende
 
Marvelous reading discussions!
 
IBIS
IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
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dhaupt
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

I also belong to my local library book club and we have two men a long with 6 women so yea for us. Any way our moderator picks half of the books and the rest are chosen by the readers from a list the library provides.

This year we have read:
Three Weeks with My Brother - Nicolas Sparks
One Thousand White Women - Jim Fergus
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
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ande
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

Lucky you -- great books. I'll bet your discussions are wonderful.
 
Re: men's book groups. I don't have any male friends or relatives that are in book groups. All you male Book Explorers out there: are you in a book club (besides this one: smileywink:smileyhappy:? Do you know a lot of guys who are in book groups?
 
Ande
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book? -- book covers

[ Edited ]
Not only do I face this question every day (from the bookseller's p.o.v.), but I've become very aware of why I pick up the books I do.
 
So I just have to say it: it's the book cover. As someone who sees hundreds of book covers every day, I definitely see trends in the ways in which I'm prompted (by the cover design) to respond to a book.
 
For example, chick lit titles have a certain look -- bright colors, illustrated, playful lettering (for example: Little Lady, Big Apple) -- or they somehow feature high heels on the cover.
 
Then there's something I call "Trick Lit" which is chick lit with deceptively more sophisticated, less cartoonish book covers (like The Opposite of Love).
 
Historical Fiction trends toward the brown, sepia, yellow camp (Pillars of the Earth ... Water for Elephants)
 
Then there's the size of the author's name. Compare these two -- Where Are You Now? and Beautiful Children -- and consider what the publisher wants you to respond to. (Both have their advantages, I realize.)
 
I think the psychology that goes into book cover design is fascinating. (Same for all the things we consume. I read an article recently about a small company who changed the packaging of their soap -- they went with a plain brown wrapper and a green sticker -- and sales took off, thanks to their new "all-natural" image.)
 
 


Message Edited by Jessica on 03-13-2008 04:49 PM
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karinlib
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

I look at reviews on the web.  I spend a lot of time on this website reading reviews.  In a bookstore  I read the first couple of pages of a book that has enticing cover, particularly the bestsellers or new books.   I have read several books that have lifetime reading plans.  I tend to read a book by an author that I love as soon as it comes out. 
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Oldesq
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book? -- book covers

I agree that cover art is a kind of "code" -like the flowers of yesteryear?  that let the reader generally know the genre and you have given some terrific examples- but this doesn't make me buy a title.  Some things that do contribute to me buying a title are:
 
The cost- if outrageous or out of line with the market I am more likely to delay the gratification and get it from a library;
 
A kind a "tipping point" of recommendations-I hear about books on TV, read reviews in newspapers and magazines, see advertisements- none of these outlets individually make me go out and buy a book but where I hear uniform praise or excitement from a number of fronts I will put it in my TBR list in my PDA and buy it on my next trip to B&N.
 
Award winners- Nobel (most representative work), Pulitzer, Book Circle, Pen Faulkner every year as they are important, worthy and current.
 
Author events- but this is no guarantee.
 
I also travel and sometimes am stuck in the airport having just finished the last title and have to go to one of those kiosk places- I refuse to buy those overly tall paperbacks that are the norm now.
 
Oldesq
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Crystal8i8
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

[ Edited ]
For some reason I cannot get this to work properly tonight.  Could be the fact that I've had a few or not...   
 
Anyways, Yes Ande I am in  my (almost) mid-twenties and yes I do read alot, and I have read The People of the Book.  I enjoyed it very much and am still reading everyday, and sometimes multiple books in a day...


Message Edited by Crystal8i8 on 03-21-2008 10:28 PM

Message Edited by Crystal8i8 on 03-21-2008 10:31 PM
The Butterfly Girl 8i8

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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Crystal8i8
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

[ Edited ]
I enjoy hearing from other people what they like to read, although I don't have too many friends who read as much as I do...  so any suggestions  are welcom even though my TBR pile is immensely huge.


Message Edited by Crystal8i8 on 03-21-2008 10:34 PM

Message Edited by Crystal8i8 on 03-21-2008 10:36 PM
The Butterfly Girl 8i8

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
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shh_im_reading
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

Hi all!  I'm a newbie! 
 
For me I the cover and/or title draw me in initially.  Then I check out the book jacket flaps for info on the book.  If my interest isn't piqued in the first paragraph of the synopsis it doesn't find a home with me.  And the worst is picking up a book with nothing on the flaps or the back cover that tells you anything about the book.  A long list of hoorahs saying how beautifully written it is tells me nothing if I don't know the subject matter. 
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Crystal8i8
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Re: #13: What gets you to buy a book?

I also wanted to add that if one of my favorite authors, or an author I've recently read that I happened to like, gives the book a good review, that can put me over the fence on picking up a book I normally wouldn't think about.
The Butterfly Girl 8i8

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors." - The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini