Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Do You Choose A Book?

I remember going to the library as a child, touching the glossy covers of books and reading the blurbs to decide what to choose. Or I’d devour the Scholastic paperback list, trying to decide which paperbacks I wanted to spend my money on. The thin novels were often only 25 cents, so I could buy several.

But now everything has changed. There are still libraries, but I don’t have to always drive there. I can download books to my Kindle from the library’s website. But the selection isn’t extensive. And the more I read, the fewer books are left that I’m interested in. The same applies to the library’s physical collection. Budgets are dwindling, which means the collection of books is too. To help generate revenue, they charge for new releases. And they aren’t cheap. Plus, I’m amazed at how long books are considered new releases. I’m beginning to think something is no longer a “new release” only when people aren’t reading it anymore.

Several months ago, I found an e-newletter that advertised free and 99 cent novels. I signed up and thought my book problems were solved. They weren’t. Now I receive a daily newsletter of listing free and cheap e-books. Some of the books are written by indie authors while others are by traditionally pubbed authors, who are making their backlists available to e-market. But I haven’t got the time or energy to weed through the newsletter, read all the blurbs, check the books’ ratings on Amazon, read a sample to see if the writing is quality or not. The e-newletters advertise books regardless of quality—basically it’s a pay-to-play situation. And the cost isn’t cheap. (If any of you know of some e-newletter that’s different—and not just the reviews of a single book reviewer—please let me know!)

So I’m not really reading the free newsletter anymore. Instead, I’m paying attention to other writer’s recommendations. If writer X, whose novel I liked, says, “Book A is really good and it’s free/99 cents/cheap,” then I usually buy it—assuming the plot and genre are interesting to me.

What about you? If you have an e-reader, how do you decide what e-books to buy?


  1. In the absence of word of mouth from a trusted source...

    If the cover, the title and the Kindle price are reasonably attractive, I read the book's description. If that sounds good, I read the reviews, paying most attention to the 2- to 4-star reviews. (Generally speaking, 5's and 1's are both suspect IMO.)

    If the book has very few reviews--especially if they seem like influencer types (i.e. 5-stars, promotional-sounding)--I check each reviewer's list of 'other reviews.' If they have none, or none except for books by that author, I ignore them and move on. If the reviews seem legit, however, or if the plot sounds particularly interesting, then I buy. (I'm more likely to take a chance on a book if the price is very low, or if I know the author and want to support them.)

    Now, before you attack my 'legit reviews' comment, let me clarify. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and maybe these influencer types really did like the book. Problem is, I've been burned too many times with self- or indie-published works that I don't trust them anymore. I'm self-pub- and indie-friendly--will probably go that route myself--but I've learned from experience that I have to wade through a lot of bad and mediocre among that group to find the good.

    As far as finding enough books to read - THAT has not been a problem. There is currently an embarrassingly large backlog on my Kindle. *blush*

    Nice post! :)

  2. I start with a mood. Am I in the mood for romance? Contemp? Historical? Paranormal? YA? Once I figure out what I'm in the mood to read I look for recommendations based on my current tastes. For instance, I found the Chicagoland Vamp series by googling 'fans of patricia briggs or charlaine harris'. Same goes for all other genres.

  3. I've just started using my Nook and...pretty much go off of friends recommendations. I'm so cheap I hate to buy something and then, heaven forbid, hate it.

  4. I read books by my favorite authors when they come out, but I also pay attention to reviews from RT BOOKReview in the genres I like best. Occasionally I'll find a review in NYTimes or EW that strikes my interest. Once in a while, I'll just pick a random book at the library. :)

  5. I choose all my books from word of mouth. Recommendations from friends, family, and the internet. My TBR list is a mile high, and I just keep adding to it.

    But when I do try to sift through all the books out there, I usually choose the genre, then read the back blurb on the book. If the story sounds interesting, I'll down load the free sample and go from there.

  6. I read books by popular authors (a few of them) - eg. Nicholas Sparks. I love romance\lovey-dovey books so I try to find anything in that genre by an author who I like their voice in their writing. If I don't like the author's voice, I won't buy it. I prefer watching movies over reading because it takes time and sometimes, I'm way too busy to read.