How Do You Choose The Books You Read? A Poll, Complete With A Prize, And “Air Quotes”

For an industry that so many claim is “dying” there sure are a lot of books traditionally published books out there to choose from.  New ones each and every week.  The ones from last month I missed.  The classics I skipped.  The authors that went undetected.  We have book stores of the big and small and online kind.  We can receive books on our doorstep.  We can borrow them from the library (although I recommend supporting authors you enjoy, because you pay for things you like, right?) and we can even borrow them from friends who, of course, purchased them.

So with all these books being supplied by this “dying” industry known as publishing, how do we choose?

Take part in this poll – and tell me in the comments that you did so!  You can also expound on your answer, give examples. As long as you take the poll and comment, you’ll be entered to win a prize.  And a prize is a book, chosen especially for the winner.  As if that surprises you.  One book, one winner.  I know, it’s not a palooza like last time, but it’s not a blogiversary either, so you’ll have to bear with me.  One week to vote then the poll explodes.  Then I’ll choose one winner randomly.  Then I’ll mail you a book.  It’s that easy.

Amy xo

* All references to the “dying” industry are obviously air quotes. Publishing may be changing, but it’s not “dying” even without the air quotes. Just so you know. 

42 thoughts on “How Do You Choose The Books You Read? A Poll, Complete With A Prize, And “Air Quotes”

  1. Tricky to respond to this poll,because I probably do a mix of nearly all of the above. If I follow a friend’s recommendation, it has to be a friend who has a similar taste to my own, as I have been burnt before… If I find an author I like, I will try to read all of his/her books if I can find them. I do like reading reviews and if most of them agree that it is an outstanding book, I can usually be persuaded to buy it (even if I get around to reading it much later on). I don’t choose a book solely by its cover, but I can be put off by a cover. I don’t have the time to download samples or freebies too much, but if it’s a book that I was planning to read anyway, I might download it when I get a free sample, and then buy the rest of it. As for lists… well, my To Read list is the one that seems to be getting longer and longer, with no end in sight…

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  2. Like MarinaSofia I do many of these but chose just one (recommended by a friend). I also will read a book if I know and like the author, a cover and/or blurb may intrigue me, a book review , etc.

    One way to support the not dying industry – give books as gifts!!

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  3. Add me to the “mix of…the above.” There are authors whose grocery lists I would pay money to read, but they are a small percentage of what I read. The back blurb is probably my closest friend when it comes to buying.

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  4. Basically, I check the book out at the library based on the cover and the description. If I like it, I will buy the entire series. I will also take a look at a book if a friend recommends it. Oh, and “I took the poll” (air quotes)

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  5. Ditto ditto ditto… I picked title and cover because that will get me if I’m shopping blind, but seeing consistent reviews and comments about a book will make me check it out. I love Goodreads, and seeing what my friends are reading and enjoying has definitely led to purchases.

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  6. Amy, It was hard to choose. Usually, when I go into a store I’m looking for a specific book which I’ve heard of–either on the loops or reviews–but only after investigating and trying to find a blurb.
    In the store, I have been known to dither about the book I go in for, then pick another based on cover, title, and my mood. Is it summer? I’ll read a beach book.
    Susan

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  7. I read books usually based on recommendations of friends, whether they be real-life friends or online friends, such as writers and publishing folks I follow on Twitter.

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  8. I just voted! I think the author is the most important factor, as long as the book’s topic interests me to some extent. Even if a book is recommended by a friend, or if it has a beautiful cover, the subject matter has to interest me and it’s got to have writing that is engaging and well crafted.

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  9. I just voted, too! I read authors I know, but I’m also trying to find more titles/writers who may be similar to my own book-in-progress. It’s a fun marketing strategy!

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  10. Great question, and as the others above have noted, I do a mix also. But the cover and title will ultimately sway my decision. I shared the poll via Facebook, too, to see how others may respond. The responses so far are really interesting. Nobody said they buy mainly based on cheap or free or lists; though I have downloaded free books to try a new author.

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  11. So hard to pick ONE reason why I read/buy a book. I admit that covers often pull me in, but as of late, Goodreads and Twitter have been my main sources of book-finding — so I guess that makes me a review reader? I buy based on the book blurb AND the reviews. I also read books based on friend recs and pull them from lists (if I like the descriptions).

    Like you, I have no problem buying books – because I know I am supporting the author. For that reason, I don’t even borrow books! That being said, I’m always open to WINNING books ;-).

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  12. Yep to all the above mix and match strategies. What this makes me appreciate is that there are a number of avenues to make a book hit my ‘buy’ (and ‘read’) list, but word of mouth from someone I know has reading tastes similar to my own is really the jack pot.

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  13. I voted, and I said that I choose by title and cover, but recently I’ve been paying more attention to sample pages. It’s funny because in a book and mortar bookstore, the whole books has always been available as a sample, but I’ve only started previewing the writing since buying Kindle books and being given the option to read sample pages. Perhaps this is also because when buying Kindle books, I can’t be as impressed by the cover or the feel of the book, so I have to rely on the writing.

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  14. I picked: I read the book if I know the author because I am involved in a writers’ group and firmly believe in supporting my fellow authors. So, I chose that one meaning, “If i know the author personally.” or if I’ve interacted with them on social media. I don’t pick a book based on a big name author just because I “know” that author. I have been pleasantly surprised by books I bought strictly to support the author that weren’t in my usual genres.

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  15. I’m with the mix and match group.

    My book choosing process is similar to my clothes shopping process. Favorite brand first (my favorite author). What they look like on the hanger works too (title and cover). What friends are wearing (friend recommendations), possibly. Finally, try on (sample pages).

    Great conversation starter and interesting to see results.

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  16. I have found many authors over the past couple of years whom I love (too many, actually!). My big problem is learning to balance mt reading & writing time. Not successful w/this at all.

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  17. I marked read reviews but that’s not the only way I chose books. There are so many wonderful books out there with no possible way to read them all. I wonder who says that publishing is a dying industry. From where I sit there is no way.

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  18. I’m with the mix and match group. I check out my friends’ recommendations, but don’t always buy their choices. If a cover grabs me, I’ll definitely check the book out, too. But mostly, I rely on the story blurbs to tell me whether or not the book is my cup of tea. If the blurb grabs me, I’ll buy the book, whether it’s from an established author or a new author.

    Great poll, Amy!

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  19. Having a kindle has totally revolutionized my reading habits! I chose the “download a sample of everything” option. I’ve now read the first 10% (or whatever) of tons of books I’ve been “meaning to read” for years. If I can stop at the end of the sample and not go back, that’s what I do. If it grabs me enough that I MUST read on – I do.

    It’s made the most out of my ever-shrinking reading time (mom of one, soon to be two here). No more do I feel compelled to slog through a book that’s just okay or even decent simply because I forked over the money. The books I do read are fantastic. This, in turn, motivates me to carve out more time to read.

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  20. Interesting Poll. I chose “recommended by a friend” because most of the books I have in my TBR pile were recommendations from conferences or from friend’s blogs. However, my usual process goes like this: I title grabs me-not the cover the title, then I read the flap or the back cover. If the pitch grabs me and I’m on-line, it goes into my cart. If I’m in the store I’ll open to either the first page or page 69. If I have to turn the page the book is mine.

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  21. I agree with most of the pollsters – I select a book to read depending on my mood and where I am. I find that most often I pick up a book based on the cover and title and then I read random pages in it. I also will buy a book based on reviews on Good reads or an article I read. I voted for cover and title since it mostly matches what I do, most of the time! Oh and I love the free samples download option.

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  22. I like this poll, especially that price doesn’t seem to be a factor–as yet. I my favorite books were recommended by friends. I did choose the cover and title though. I get drawn in by interesting titles or cover art. I then read the back, if I like what I see then I g to the first chapter. If I find myself reading to the end of the chapter then I buy it.

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  23. I don’t necessarily download pages. But no matter how a book has captured my curiosity–friend, reviews, cover art, back cover synopsis– I always read sample pages before buying.

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  24. I actually look at several things when I choose book not just one. These days, most of my books are e-books because I’m out of town with my son who is getting cancer treatments. I choose first by blurbs about the books (I read all genres), then reviews. I also read fav. authors no matter the genre. I never download excerts. Currently, it’s all about saving time with me and getting my hands on a distraction fast. 🙂

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  25. I voted for “if I know the author and it’s my cup of tea.” BUT, I also would say recs from friends is a close second. Here’s the thing, being involved in the writing community, blogging, Twitter, etc, has for sure connected me to authors and made me want to support them. I related issue is something I call “inflated book reviews” which CAN make it hard to take a friend’s rec online unless I really know the person and can ask “Did you REALLY love the book.” That’s another topic, but an interesting one, I think.

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      • I had a writing acquaintance who self-pubbed who asked for a review. Frankly, the book was a 2.5 star, IMO – I could barely bump it up to 3 stars (in my head; I did not post a review). I e-mailed her and told her the probs I had with it; she wanted me to bump it up to 4 or 5 stars to be “nice”; I said no, not comfortable with that.

        Recently had a stranger Friend me on GoodReads and also beg for a review; this one I did post, also a 2.5 star IMO, though since GR doesn’t allow half stars I gave it 3. I don’t (usually) rip anyone a new one, but if a book has major problems (don’t know who the main character is, the ending is unsatisfactory) I’m going to mention them, along with the things that I really liked about the book.

        I see some people on GR handing out 5 star reviews like they’re Halloween candy, and I think, okay, they’re being “nice,” but the more 5 stars they hand out, the less I trust their opinion on any book.

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  26. Amy,

    Chiming in late as yesterday was a very busy day. I took your poll and was torn between among several of your choices. I ultimately went with my choice as in my heart I knew that was a reason I’d pick up a book. However, cover must appeal to me, then the author, finally a good review which speaks to me but doesn’t rehash the whole story–then why read it?

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  27. Wish you’d picked a poll form that let you pick the top three. I will read a book by an author I know, say, a blogfriend – but if (IMO) it sucks I will neither review nor usually buy another book by that author. And if I am being slammed with heavy Tweets or sales pitches by the author, I will actually AVOID that book. I will download freebie books, but I usually don’t knock myself out to read ’em.

    If a book has been recommended by a friend, I may download the sample chapter to see if I like it. Too little time, too many books! Right now, I am gearing up for RWA and am trying to read as many different books by as many different authors from that genre as possible.

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  28. I voted that I read books by authors I know even if out of the genre I read – because I do do this – but only since I became a published author and understood how important it is to be supported. Sometimes I am quite surprised by books I never thought I’d enjoy and did!

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  29. I will pretty much give anything a go if something about it appeals to me enough to take it from the shelf but while the cover and title may be why I pick it up, the blurb is really important and usually I will open it up and read a page or two in the middle as well to check style.

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