Books,  Facts of Life,  Reading

What Makes Me Buy A Book?

This is a topic I find interesting, because my purchasing habits seem to be quite random sometimes.

Reason #1 – Pretty Shiny Cover
I love a shiny cover! When there are a hundred books to look at, I base my decision on what to stop and look at based on how much I like the cover. I like certain genres more than others, so covers that cover darker themes or fairy tale themes are going to stop me more than others. I am loathe to buy a book with a cover I don’t like. I have to look at that thing, and I like pretty things, so it has to sound REALLY interesting to overcome a lackluster cover…assuming I click on it in the first place. Recently, the book’s spine has also become important. I have a book with a tacky spine on my shelf that’s hidden behind a bookend right now.

Reason #2 – Word of Mouth
Sometimes blurbs are terrible. Sometime last year I had decided not to read a book on my TBR because it didn’t sound like something I would like at all. It also barely made sense. Literally the next day, I saw a booktuber talking about it. It was an older video and I’m not subscribed to the channel, but there I was. Her description of the book didn’t match my understanding of the blurb at all. So I went to Amazon and used the “Look Inside” feature to skim through the first chapter. I ended up reading that thing for 20 minutes! I bought the book later that night and moved it to the top of my TBR pile. I don’t remember where I first saw it, but I get the vast majority of book recommendations from Amazon. The rest come from blogs, Youtube and other social media, Goodreads, and occasionally, someone I know and an actual bookstore, usually Barnes & Noble, usually browsing. Amazon and Goodreads are usually the ways I find out about new books from authors I like, as well.

Reason #3 – Reviews
Good reviews can make me feel better about a book I already want to buy, but I often purchase books, with a generally decent rating, because of negative reviews that drag the book to hell and back. Sometimes those reviews are hilarious, and oftentimes, everything the reviewer hates about the book are things I think sound interesting. For example, I bought a book called WINTERSPELL – a nutcracker retelling – because a reviewer said the book was too dark. Ha. Sold. I will say, if most of a book’s reviews are bad, like two stars average, I’m probably not buying the book. But anything around three stars or higher, if I want it, I buy it. Sometimes it’s a content issue, like people think it’s inappropriate for the category it’s in – that’s a non-factor.

Another thing: I usually do need to see a book more than once to buy it. But I do sometimes impulse buy. At the same time I bought a book I had seen maybe five times before deciding to buy it, I bought a Snow White retelling. I loved the blurb. I loved the cover. The author turned Snow White into some kind of monster!

Maybe I can’t tell exactly why I pick up a book because it’s a large combination of stuff that can’t be condensed down into a scientific formula. Or maybe it can, and it just works automatically like breathing. Either way, there are few things more exciting to bookish people than getting your hands on a shiny new book. Or a dusty old book. I can’t be the only one who sniffs books. ^_^


  • Tonja Drecker

    Your buying pattern sounds very similar to mine. Especially on the bad review end…except for the dark part. My tastes seem to swing a little away from the norm, so bad reviews only scare me away if they mention slow pacing, choppy writing and that sort of thing. I should have guessed you’d love the dark (made me laugh).

  • Jodi

    Your method for choosing a book is much more well thought-out than mine. My process: 1. Download almost every book in my preferred genre that BookBub is offering for free, 2. Read the first few pages, 3. Decide to stick with it or ditch it.

    I miss physical books. I read everything from my Kindle, and because it skips the front cover, etc., half the time I don’t even know who the author is.

    • Krystal Jane

      I read mostly ebooks for a while, but I started to miss physical books, too. I don’t know what it is. Nostalgia? I’m not signed up for BookBub yet. I’m trying to keep my backlog some illusion of manageable right now. But since I’m reading ebooks on my phone most of the time, I see all the pretty covers when I’m scrolling through the TBR folder.

  • Michelle Athy

    See, I never really consider the cover of a book. Mostly because I read on Kindle, so I never see the cover. And I tend to be the one among my friends to spread word of mouth about books, but reviews and promo do work on me–if I see something on Twitter, Goodreads, blogs, or Smart Bitches or I hear about an author and it piques my interests at the time or is an author I’ve read before or is in a genre I like, then I might go for it.

    Not that I, like, have much time to read for pleasure right now.

    • Krystal Jane

      I was actually a little sad when I had my Nook because I couldn’t see the covers. Lol! It promoted me to go for the Nook Color, and now I read ebooks through apps. I’ve always been a cover buyer, though. I remember browsing in the library and stores and picking stuff based on the cover first, until I found authors I liked. I still cared, but I was going to read the books anyway, so it wasn’t a factor.

  • Tyrean (@TyreanMartinson)

    I usually have to see a book more than once to buy it, too, and sometimes even to borrow it from the library! I usually take pictures of books I’m interested in at bookstores – so the covers do matter to me although I know that’s not content – and then I look up reviews of them in various places, then I put them on a wish list, then … well, eventually I purchase them. However, if a book is by an author I love and trust, the process isn’t nearly as long. I usually look twice, read the blurb, think it over, look at my book budget and purchase.
    And sometimes I trust reviewers and sometimes I don’t. There are books that my mom and dad “love” that I think are “meh” and some books they like that I love. We’ve agreed on Wool by Howey (loved, but “meh” to the rest of the series) and The Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan (4 star, fun to read, nothing new to see here, but comfort food we keep returning to).
    And, then there are my nieces who usually can recommend any book to me and I usually trust them (they like some really long books by Sanderson that are a bit of a slog to me – but I did find I like his other books).

    • Krystal Jane

      Yeah, I definitely can’t trust reviews sometimes. There are books I think are terrible that everyone else seems to really like and vice versa. I’m that way with movies sometimes, too. I haven’t read Wool, but I’ve heard good things about it.

  • Book Club Mom

    Who doesn’t like a shiny cover? I am greatly influenced by the cover of a book and that often determines if I will read it, so I agree with you – even if the book is the greatest thing ever written, if it doesn’t have an attractive cover, that’s a problem. It’s interesting to see that you read reviews before you read a book, to help you decide whether to read it. I only look at them after I’ve finished. I guess my way is a little backwards! I enjoyed your post – you have some good reasons!

    • Krystal Jane

      Right? Pretty covers are a must! ^_^ I like reading reviews after I finish a book to see what other people thought. 🙂 Especially when I’m on the fence, I like to scroll through less stellar reviews to see if there’s anything terrible I should watch out for. Lol!

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