Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Makes You Buy A Book?

How much does a cover influence whether or not you buy a book? If you've heard it's a good book, but you don't care for the cover, will you still buy it? Unfortunately, many times my answer is no. I have to like the cover at least some or I'll put the book down and choose another.

If I like the cover, I'll proceed to the back and read the blurbs. If I like what I see, I'll open and read the first page. Sometimes I feel an immediate click and know I want that book. Other times, I waver and flick to a few other pages, not reading them entirely, just kind of checking.

If I see books that seem interesting in bookstore windows, they're usually hardcovers. Since I can't afford them, except in special instances, I order them from the library.

Of course, if a book happens to be written by a friend, that's a different story. In that case, I'll buy the book, get it autographed and save it as I do all my autographed books.

I can't say that I buy books from reviews, but I have from word-of-mouth, or if it's by an author I like.

What about you? What makes you buy a book?


  1. In the bookstore: The cover makes me take a look at the book first. If the cover draws my attention, then I pick up the book. Then I read the back cover blurb and if it has an excerpt in the front, I read that, and if they grab my attention, I buy the book.

    Other things that might make me buy it: Like you, if it's written by a friend, I'll grab it, or if it's getting great buzz/word of mouth, I'll buy it. I think word of mouth is a powerful thing, so if it's to my tastes and getting great buzz, then it's on my list.

  2. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that if it's from a favorite author, like Julia Quinn or Sabrina Jeffries, it's an automatic buy for me. They haven't done me wring yet, so I am a loyal fan.

  3. The cover might have something to do with it. I grew up reading sci-fi, so I tend to like that style of cover art. Simple covers don't attract my attention! I love rich, detailed artwork and am probably drawn to that style first. That said, a lot of genres don't feature that type of cover, and I've plenty of those books on my shelf as well.

    Bottom line for me is the subject matter, and does it interest me? I think the back cover entices me more than the front. If it's a subject of interest or the storyline sounds intriguing, I'll buy the book.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  4. I'm a shameless hussy! LOL! I'm all about the superficial cover! I love art. I'm an artist.. and I'm so visual.. it has to appeal to me. That is unless I already know and LOVE the author, then I'll pick it up and read it no matter what the cover. Jenni

  5. Anonymous6:35 AM

    Referrals are tops, reviews next, knowing and already liking an author's writing counts a lot. Great covers alone never get me to buy, but they do help. Kind of like trying a new wine just because the bottle is good looking. Gotta have the contents to back it up.

  6. I am exactly the same as you Morgan. Covers do it for me and blurbs do it for me but reviews are not that vital and if it is a friend, that book is mine!

  7. If I see a really cool cover, I will read the blub. Sadly, most times it's not the type of book I'm into reading, but if it happens to be, I'll skim through a few pages and see how the writing is.

    I also try to get recommendations from friends or other authors on what they are reading.

  8. Easy. Word of mouth first and cover second. I know that sounds cheesy saying the cover but it does it for me every time.

  9. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Let's see the last two books I bought. The complete works of Edgar Allan Poe and A spiritual Healing. I stole nary a glance upon either cover before my purchase. Word of mouth accounts for most books that I buy.

  10. Good question, Morgan. Here's another- do you think covers are more or less critical for on-line buying?

  11. The cover means nothing to me. If it's a friend, it's an automatic want. But to just buy a book I either go by favorite author (Asimov, Rule, etc), then genre. If I choose genre, then it's the back cover and sample text.

  12. I won't buy a book just for the cover, but I'll pick it up and check it out just because the cover attracted my eye.

    Once in my hand, I read the back. If I like that, I read the first page and another at random. Then I decide.


  13. As a self proclaimed book-a-holic, it doesn't take much for me to buy a book. If it is something by a favored author, I will pretty much buy it, no questions asked. Other times I may have heard of a book via a blog, pub. newsletter, etc and it will pique my interest and I will go to Amazon, check it out a bit more and usually either place it on my wish list to buy when I get a chance, or will buy it if it sounds so utterly fantastic, I just can't wait. I do look at reviews, they don't necessarily sway me one way or the other, but I like to see/hear what others say on a book. The cover is a huge voice that yells "pick me up", if I happen to be able to get away and go into an actual bookstore. I think cover art is a huge benefit to an author.


  14. I like a good cover & a good blurb too. I have gone off reviews, but from people I have come to know are of similar tastes.

  15. Pretty much what Margay said: the cover may draw my attention, but the content has to intrigue me. And to do that, it has to fall within an extremely narrow set of criteria:

    1. It helps if it's non-fiction. Real life to me proves far more fascinating than anything people can make up. I particularly enjoy biographies, history, arcane subjects (the very earliest days of television or sound film, for example) or the history of animation.

    2. If it's fiction, to overcome my "no fiction!" bias it truly has to stimulate that part of my brain that asks "What if?": I enjoy sci-fi and alternate-history stories (like Robin Harris' "Fatherland", which takes place in a victorious Nazi Germany circa 1964) for that reason.

  16. These are my steps to choosing a book:

    1. Look at book cover
    2. Read blurb on back cover
    3. Read first page for hook
    4. Go to middle of book and
    see if story still flowing.

    5. Go to cash register if all
    the above are met.

  17. I don't buy many books any more - I have too many to review.

    I usually go by word of mouth. If that's good, I read the blurb. If that's good, I'll check out cover, type size, etc, and price. Books are expensive here, so price plays a big factor.

  18. I haven't been in a bookstore in ages because I spend so much time online. is my best friend and if I can't find it there, I might not buy it, even if it sounds like the best book in the world.

    The last four books I bought were all from the same author and the earlier books of a series I have reviewed the latest two books for. I actually hate coming into the middle of a series...even though these books are stand alones and you don't need to read the past books to enjoy the later ones. Just my Type A personality shining through to the umpteenth degree.

    On the off chance that I'm in a bookstore of any kind--maybe once a year--I go to a section that I am familiar with and scan covers. If the cover is good, I read the blurb, then check out a few pages here and there to see if it's worth my time and money.

    I must be a decent judge because I'm rarely disappointed in my selections.


  19. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I'm drawn by the cover too. Then the back cover blurb. Then I look at the first paragraph to see if it has a good "hook."


  20. The cover helps, but the blurb and first page or two has to back it up. I also listen to recommendations by friends and family and I tend to buy books from fellow authors I’ve met regardless of the cover.

    Jane Kennedy Sutton
    Author of The Ride

  21. The cover to me is barely a consideration. A book has to be recommended to me by a trusted friend before I will buy it. Wish I took that much care with movies!

    Sharon Reece

  22. The cover may entice me to pick up a book I might have otherwise passed up, however for usually I am looking for something specific when I go to buy a book. For the most part, I really try hard not to judge a book by it's cover art. I have read some books whose covers I found a bit less than appealing or flat out boring or the art computer generated and a bit amateur looking.

    Word of mouth is a big sell for me. I have friends who have very similar taste in reading and I turn to them when I need something new. And of course I can't forget relying on the tried and true authors who have grabbed hold of me with their abilities to craft a magnificent story. Blurbs also play a huge part in my book buying as does the first page of a read.

    All that being said, I noticed someone mentioned cover art for online books, and I have to say that is an instance where it seems to play a bit more of a role for me. Not fair but true. I can not hold the book or flip through the pages, so the cover art may inspire me to search a little more into the book and/or author.

    Rambled enough and will leave you in peace.

  23. I don't recall a cover enticing me to buy a book, but I have seen some terrible covers that made me pass over a book without even checking it out. So, from that standpoint, a well-designed, artistic cover makes a difference. Still, I never buy a book on cover alone. I read the first ten pages, then maybe ten or so in the middle of the book, and if I like what I read, I buy the book.

    In browsing on author Web sites, I pay little attention to covers. What I want is to read an excerpt, preferably more than just one or two pages. If I like what I read, I will probably buy the book.

  24. The cover does influence my decision on whether or not to pick up a book. But I also have to say that it's also the feel of the cover, the pages, and then of course the blurb on the back...not in any special order of importance.

    I don't usually get to go to bookstores...we have a wally world here...and the library. But those things influence me at the library too.

  25. Morgan, the book cover is very important, especially when it is face out on a bookself. It needs to be an eye-catching design. When selling my books at a fair/festival, people would first look at the cover and turn it over to read the back blurb. The third item they are interested in is the size of the print.

    Gwyn Ramsey

  26. Gwyn's mention of the size of the print is also important. If the print it too small, I won't read a book either.

    Morgan Mandel

  27. A great cover and an intriguing blurb.

  28. Great covers certainly catch me eye and might make me pick up a book to look at it, but I'm more influenced by the author (like you, Morgan, I have a growing collection of autographed books that I treasure!), recommendations and reviews. I do more shopping online than in bookstores, so blogs like yours can be a big influence too!

  29. I don't recall ever buying a book because of a cover. I generally buy a book because it's by my favourite author, or because of a recommendation by someone who likes the kind of books I like.


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