What makes you buy a book?


There is one question I know that burns in the brain of most authors I’ve met. It haunts them at night and causes loss of sleep, and, in some cases, forces them to do crazy things they’d never normally consider, like discounting their book dramatically, or creating a weird video of them dancing on the Internet (just me?). That question, ladies and gentleman, is:

WHAT MAKES YOU BUY A BOOK?

I know there is no hard and fast answer to this question, but I’d love to know what you think (to save more of those weird dancing videos I was talking about).

For what it’s worth, here are my two cents:

THE COVER

Yes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but do I? Absolutely. For me, an eye-catching cover will suck me in straight away and make me buy the book.

One such title that has inspired me to do that recently is this one:

Caught Cover

Look at that colour! And the font! And the picture! And the bubble gum! And the … okay, I’ll stop gushing, but you get my point. And I know I’m not the only one who felt this way, as this book rocketed up the charts upon its release.

THE BLURB

Logically, once the cover has sucked me in, I’ll read the blurb or synopsis of the book. This is also something that I think is super important, and a bad blurb can make click ‘close’ on that Amazon window quicker than a really fast-flying book.

One thing I’m seeing more and more, though, is the introduction of the very short blurb. Perhaps it’s because people are time poor — maybe it’s because we’re flicking through those iBooks descriptions so fast that short, snappy words are more likely to grab our attention. Either way, I quite like it.

Here’s one blurb that had me one-clicking straight away:

A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island.

A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.

A group of four friends – the Liars – whose friendship turns destructive.

A revolution. An accident. A secret.

Lies upon lies.

True love.

The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense that will leave you reeling.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

This is from We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (and if you haven’t read that, then by all means, do yourself a favour and one-click that sucker right this second!)

(Seriously, I’ll wait …)

Better 🙂

THE PRICE

This is an item of contention amongst many authors. To discount or not to discount — that should have been Shakespeare’s question. Personally, I don’t go out looking for books that are discounted or on sale. I guess, for me, I think of things I buy quite regularly (e.g. a cup of coffee. Wine. More wine.) and when I compare the amount of time I’ll spend consuming those compared to how long reading a book will take me, it seems to make sense to just buy the book I want to read, instead of the ones that may be less attention grabbing, but are on sale.

Still, I know that so many people do love getting a book deal, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all! Hey, I’ve discounted my books on many occasions, and even given it away for free once. I absolutely get it.

So, tell me, what makes you buy a book? I’m giving away a copy of The Problem With Crazy, one of my reads, to a random commenter. Competition will close May 14, 2015.

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Lauren K. McKellar is the author of the Crazy in Love series and Finding Home. In her spare time, she makes weird interpretive dance videos.

6 Comments

  1. The biggest factor that influences my book buying is recommendations. If a friend tells me a book is awesome, that books ends up on my ereader. However, when I first saw the book you used for the cover example I clicked right through to read the blurb, because that cover … damn it’s eye catching!

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  2. If I see a book in a library, bookshop or online written by an author whose work has impressed me in the past, then a purchase is virtually guaranteed. When looking at books from unknown authors I will definitely put the book back on the shelf if I don’t like the font, the paper or the layout – and if it seems to be overpriced. Otherwise what I am looking for in fiction is a great plot, and in non-fiction either great research or well written personal experiences.

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  3. That cover is great!

    For me it’s recommendations too. I read We Were Liars after seeing you guys gushing about it on Twitter (YOU WERE TOO GUSHING) and a bunch of other books because Emily or Cait reviewed them.

    The cover and the blurb help – I’m looking for signs of a genre I like, for example – but not as much as a bad cover or blurb hurts.

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  4. Interestingly enough, I’m turned off a book by the short blurb format. Nothing about the We Were Liars blurb stands out to me, and I think that’s because I prefer detail in blurbs. “Show me how you’re different, book! Lots of your contemporaries have (for instance) people who lie and destructive relationships!”
    And, yeah, talking to books is completely normal. 😛

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  5. I agree with you on the things about the cover and blurb. But for me, in particular, I love a bright cover. Bold colors, cool designs, contrast, etc. I love color and that doesn’t stop when I see a book. On the other hand, I’m the opposite with price. I love a good bargain and I’d rather get an expensive book from the library than invest in a book that I may or may not like. But then again, I also don’t like spending money in general because as much as I love books, I don’t consider them a “need” but rather a luxury.

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  6. This is a good post. I am so with you on the blurb thing. Short and punchy – I wrote a much viewed article on that meself, but I won’t post the link here because I know that annoys some people!

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