Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To Read or Not To Read

What factors do you consider when you pick up a book to buy or read?

Here's what influences me:

Word of Mouth. If someone recommends a book to me, then I'll usually give it a shot, unless it gets "disqualified." (See "First Page" below). Of course, the recommender usually has to have similar tastes as me, or at least has to read in the same genre for me to give weight to the recommendation. Mystery/suspense book bloggers definitely count in this regard!

The Author. If I've read other books by an author--and liked them--then it's almost automatic. Also, if I have some special knowledge about the author, such as hearing him/her speak at a conference, or if I've read an interview or blog entry, then I'll often go ahead and get the book.

The Premise/Story. Aside from word of mouth, this is probably the biggest factor for me. Does the story sound like something I want to invest hours reading? Sometimes, I won't read a book by a favorite author if it sounds like something I really won't like.

The Title. Catchy/clever ones will attract me, but rarely will a "bad" one cause me to put the book down. (Sometimes the titles aren't the author's "fault.")

The Cover. Again, a dazzling cover might attract me, but a bad cover won't repel me. Usually.

The First Page. I always read a little bit of the first page and use this as a "disqualifier." If the writing doesn't work for me, or if the "voice" doesn't draw me in, I'll put the book down. Also, if it's written in present tense, I'll pass (my brain just isn't wired to read stuff written that way; unfortunately, there have been some present-tense books I've really wanted to read, but couldn't get past the first few pages.)

How about you? What factors do you take into consideration when choosing what to read?



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think strongest for me is the author. If I'm a fan, I'll read the author's next book even if it gets so-so reviews. (Actually, I came across the next of a series this morning...ho-hum review. I'm totally getting it.)

Mystery Writing is Murder

JournoMich said...

I think you nailed it for me with your list. Lately I've become a bigger follower of authors--reading all of the books of my favorite writers with a ravenous greed. But a bad cover or title will definitely turn me off.

I will take others' opinions in mind, but if it really doesn't appeal to me, there's nothing to be done about it.

And professional reviews--no problem. I don't read them, and bad ones don't stop me if I know the author or am already interested in the book.

And I always buy friends' books!

Writing Prompt Wednesdays today on my blog!

Elspeth Futcher said...

My first factor is the author - if I liked a previous book, I'll read another. On the other hand, if I didn't like (or didn't finish) a book, that author is off my list. Subject matter is also big with me - if it's about a subject I like, then I'll read it, regardless of who wrote it.

Titles and covers? Don't care.

If a friend recommends a book, it's possible - depending on the genre. I'm always open to discovering new books!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I open it at somewhere random in the first half, not the very first page... I've read too many intriguing set-ups that turn formulaically into something completely different for the entire rest of the book!

Alan Orloff said...

Being an ex-marketing guy, I find this topic fascinating--why people purchase certain items and not others.

I agree with you all--picking up a new book by a favorite author is really exciting (finding an old one that you somehow missed is pretty cool, too!).

Ingrid King said...

The author is strongest for me, too, followed by word of mouth. I've found more wonderful books through the various blogs I visit, and they help me discover authors that I might never have heard of otherwise. Reviews are probably least important to me - as long as the author and synopsis sounds interesting to me, I'll read a book even if it got a less than stellar review.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I think this is a pretty good summary of to read...or not. Likely to read...or at least consider: authors I know/have read. Not read: Length, regardless of author. Too long generally means too wordy. (Shudder.)

Best Wishes, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm also a follower of authors and when I find a new good one, I try to work my way through all their books (unless it's Dick Francis or Robert Parker -- I'll never finish all those). Have been reading a lot of Deon Meyer thrillers lately.

Lorel Clayton said...

It's word of mouth and the author (if I liked their pevious work) that sends me searching for something in the bookstore. When browsing, it's cover, title, and premise that attract me. However, like you, the first page can be a major disqualifier. If I'm not interested in a paragraph or two, I put it down. I browsed like that for a few hours one day to teach myself a lesson about the first page of my WIP: No whining about people not "getting it". Make it good or no one will be interested, not if they browse like me.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I think I probably consider everything on your list, but it's reading the first paragraph or two that hooks me. If I like the way the words flow, I'll probably pick it up.

Dorte H said...

I love series so the next in each of my zillion series is a must. Next I go by author, but recommendations by certain blogger friends are almost as important. I have one friend especially; when she writes a glowing review, the book is a must.
On the whole I take blog reviews more seriously than professional ones because one gets to know bloggers and find out whose tastes match your own.