Where do you hear about the books you buy? Unofficial Study

I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of marketing, researched some and still haven’t come to a conclusion about it all.  A post by Sophie Perinot today stirred up some more questions about marketing dollars and social networking time as effective means of selling books.

Words and phrases have tumbled around in my mind as potential posts, but I guess what I really want to know–what every writer really wants to know–is how do you hear about the books you pick for your reading list?

I’ll tell you all about my buying habits and ask that you–whether a reader or a writer–share a bit about how/where you find your newest reads. 

  • Twitter: I’ve never purchased a tweeted about book.  Ever.  Especially when I feel like the purpose of Twitter is to sell books, not engage in meaningful communications with fellow readers and writers.  Call me a snob…
  • Book Trailer: nope.  I don’t You tube, so see very few of them to begin with.  Those I do see are because I’m already on an author’s blog or website.
  • Blog Mention: YES, yes and Yes!  I love hearing what my cyber friends are reading and why.  I also love supporting my fellow writers by purchasing their books–made easier by e-pubbing as I’m far away from even a big chain book store, let alone an indie brick and mortar. 
  • The Author’s Blog: A word of caution.  I don’t like when authors sell their books in their blog posts by mentioning it every single day.  I do like when they have a quiet link on the side and mention only the most intriguing aspects of their writing journeys in their posts.  If blogs become thinly veiled advertisements, I am out of there.
  • Publisher’s Web Page: Nope.  I don’t visit publisher sites unless I’m already specifically looking for an author or a book.  I never browse them to see upcoming books for my reading list–title comps, yes, but not my personal reading list.
  • Brick and Mortars: I do, however, browse physical bookshelves.  I love nothing more than finding a new author and a new title among the spines.
  • Amazon: Absolutely.  I purchase e-books from my Kindle on a regular basis.  But…I already know exactly what I’m looking for before I do.  I’m not an Amazon browser.  Not even when I get the “based on your purchases you might like” suggestions.  I’m a very focused e-book buyer and never browse for my e-books.
  • Word of Mouth: Definitely.  I will almost always (Please don’t spam me with book titles over this admission!) buy books that are recommended by trusted family and friends. 
  • Conferences: Certainly.  Put an author on the podium who wants to help me succeed as a writer and I’m right there with my checkbook.  Conferences are dangerous places for my bank account.
  • Book Clubs: I’ve been a member of several and love them.  I also adore my kids’ book club flyers from school and almost always purchase a book or ten from them.
  • Author Events: School visits or library talks are intriguing to me and I like to support those authors brave enough to show up in public and put themselves out there.  I like when they bring the books so I don’t have to pay then and have them shipped.  Ugh.  Can you say instant gratification?
  • Libraries: Indirectly.  I’m not a big library user (blame my instant gratification issues and addiction to books) even though I’m on the library board and support them financially.  However, I do browse titles, listen to trends from the librarians and then buy books I think I’ll like based on the process.
  • Author Web Sites: Occasionally.  I do check up on my favorite authors now and again and feel like this IS the place to sell your wares.  It isn’t offensive for me to have authors plug their books on their sites.  That’s why I’m there.
  • School Reading Lists: Yes.  I like to read what my kids are reading.  Even academically.  If I like a book or an author, I’ll buy a copy for home.
  • Movies made from books: Sometimes.  If the movie sounds intriguing, I’ll pick up the book and read it first.  I rarely read a book AFTER seeing the movie, however, as I like to be surprised and delighted in my own head, not by a director’s interpretation of a novel.
  • Writing Groups: Without a doubt.  If I’m in your circle of writing buds, I will 100% support your endeavor: morally and financially.  (No, you can’t have a loan.)  I know, I expect a rush of new subscribers over that one and welcome it.  But I’m serious.  If I make a solid connection with you, I’m your friend for life.
  • Grocery Stores: Laugh about it, but yes.  When I’m on vacation and have to run to the store for a few last-minute ingredients, I will usually pick up a beach/fireplace read for those down times.
  • Radio Mention: Yep.  Especially if the author is interviewed and sounds passionate about his writing and particular project.
  • Newspaper/Magazine Ad: Sometimes, though rarely.
  • Television: Nope.  I picked up one Oprah book club book once and hated it so much I figure we have nothing in common as far as literary taste is concerned.  Snobbish and narrow-minded, but I’m me and I get to have some quirks.
  • Random Out and About: Yep.  I’m a snooper.  If I see you sitting on an airplane or a park bench and you are ENGROSSED in a book, you can bet your last penny that I will remember the title and buy it next.  Kind of like word of mouth, but from strangers and with no talking.
  • Goodreads and other booky places: Yes.  I consider this word of mouth, though I’m a bit leery of who I follow because I only want genuine recommendations.
  • Facebook: No.  I don’t really know writers ONLY through Facebook.  Nor do my friends drop titles as readily as they discuss their evenings out on the town. 

The Catch: I refuse, on principle, to buy a book from an author whose only form of communication is to pitch her writing.  I hate being the target of someone’s campaign.  Rather, I get warm fuzzies when I care about the people who wrote the book and don’t need you to sell me your product.  In fact, the minute you morph from cool writer into crazy marketer, I’m gone.

How about you?  What awakens the desire for you to drop your hard-earned cash on someone else’s words?  How do you initially hear about the books you someday read?  Do you pass along great authors and titles to the peeps in your life?  If so, how?

Readers and writers alike, share this post, comment on your buying trends and help us unofficially get a handle on how we can become better marketers of our work.

Curious minds want to know!

16 responses to “Where do you hear about the books you buy? Unofficial Study

  1. Far and away my number one source for books is the book reviews & author interviews on NPR. I can’t tell you the number of times I have put a book on my wish list because of something I heard on NPR. I often go to the NPR website and check their lists of books by book critics to see additional recommendations.

    • Oooh, I’ve read some great books from NPR. Great addition to the book buying discussion. I like to hear from readers and the authors, and I think NPR does a nice job of showcasing both.

      Thanks so much for following the breadcrumb trail and commenting.

      Hugs and miss you like crazy!

  2. Border’s 60% off going-outta-biz sale got me to buy a couple things I ordinarily wouldn’t. So sales are great things!

    • Yes. I’m a sucker for remainder tables and liquidation sales. Not sure I’ll be so overjoyed about them when my books are on those tables, though! LOL. The landscape of writing is changing very rapidly.

      Thanks for weighiing in.

  3. I have purchased several books off of Twitter friend recommendations, however the number one for me would be seeing the book profiled on a blog by someone that has read it. I also pick up the occasional book from the lists of my Goodreads friends. One more, library sales where you can buy a grocery bag of older books (I found a whole series of Aristotle works this way). Now, if I could just find time to read them all.

    • LOL, isn’t that the truth.

      OOoOooh, had more to say, but then realized it would make an amazing storyline for a chapter book or middle grade novel, so will stop right here! Thanks for weighing in on where you find your TBR books. If I see some extra time, I’ll send it your way!

  4. MOSTLY the same as you with a few exceptions: I live at the library. Always have, always will and rarely buy a book without having read it first via the library. Long life to them! I don’t really belong to book clubs, per se, so I can’t say I buy from them. LOL Otherwise, I’m pretty much just like you. 😀

    • Victoria,

      I love libraries. Grew up in them. However, the only bad habit I have is buying books. I don’t shop for clothes. I don’t need jewelry, but I can barely walk away from a bookstore period. Let alone without an armload of books. I’m a book addict and I can’t seem to “share” them with the masses. I want to take them home and stroke them and name them mine! All Mine.


      My poor husband…

  5. Good question! Word of mouth/recommended by a trusted friend or someone I know who likes the same kind of books I like = definitely!

    I don’t even read those self-marketing/self-promoting tweets about an author’s own book…bleh! Don’t tell me it’s superb. If it is good, people will talk about it whether you tell them to or not.

    I love the library! Our local lib is small (and cozy) but they have a good selection (and surprisingly extensive). It drives my kids nuts when I take my time looking at spines and picking one every now and then to look at (1) cover, (2) blurb, (3) a random page, before putting it back and picking up another. But I found great reads just by doing this. 🙂

    At the bookstore, I always do a quick scan–I’m a visual person so covers are important. (yeah, yeah, I know: Don’t judge a book by its cover. But there are so many choices! I have to pick the one that stands out first.) The good thing about having an iPhone is that I can quickly look up the book online and see its reviews. I’ve also been known to do totally impulsive buys: Pick up book and buy it without really reading the whole blurb. Haha! I don’t do this all the time.

    I have Goodreads, but I’m not there often enough to peruse people’s recommendations.

    My 2 cents! 😉

    • Thanks for adding your pennies. I find it fascinating to learn about other people’s buying habits when it comes to books. I have the same 1, 2, 3 method for picking out a good book in a library or a book store. Impulse grocery store buys are almost always cover purchases only.

      Funny how we work sometimes!

      Yet one thing is clear, quality recommendations via trusted friends is always high on the list, while spamming authors seem to drop off the list altogether.

  6. I have belonged to book clubs in the past, but not presently. I usually buy books that my family and friends recommend. My other source is NPR. When they interview an author and recommend a book I always write it down to read. I love book stores, but like you, don’t have many in my area. I don’t Twitter nor look on Facebook or Goodreads for recommended novels, but I never run out of something to read. I’m currently reading an ARC to review for a blogging friend, so I do put some bloggy books on my reading list. I always go to the airport bookstore, but my number one place for books is the library and they always have a 50 cent shelf and a dollar shelf by the front door. You better believe I browse those!

    • What a great rundown. Thanks so much for sharing it. NPR seems to have a higher place on the list than I expected. Might be a great, untapped marketing plan for those of us with small imaginations!

      Library book sales are a great way to expand our author likes. It’s pretty easy to spend 50 cents when we’re on the fence. And even easier to spend the $10 for a new novel once we’ve grown to love an author.

      Hugs and thanks for weighing in.

  7. Belatedly . . . I am sooooo with you on the NO SHILLING policy. But I’ve read many a book because the author amused me somehow.

    I hear about most of my books from word of mouth and blogs. I guess blogs are a form of word of mouth, but . . . they’re different. Occasionally I’ll check out books that Amazon Recommends, but usually I am disappointed unless a friend has also recommended them!

    And of course, once I love one book by an author, I’m bound to give her next one a try.

    • Michelle,

      That’s exactly the reason why I don’t browse on my Kindle. I go there only to buy, not shop. Until they pefect the humanness of their recommendations, I won’t bite!

  8. I’m your twin up to Word of Mouth (and then Goodreads/Facebook) – skip the rest as I live in a non-English speaking countries, so some things I can’t really do… I can only thank the World Wide Web! 😀

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