Something I often wonder about is: What does it take for someone to make the transition from noticing a novel to deciding to read it?
To judge a book by its cover or not – oh, who are we kidding? That's what book covers are for. Judginess. It's fun!
You may not believe in "love at first sight" but you have to admit that the beautiful and the quirky will always be attention grabbers. Something that looks intriguing will prod your interest. A stunning cover draws you to a book. You want to love it. You want there to be depth behind the shallow perfection.
Good book covers are like magnets to potential readers. Whether we see them wrapped around the books or only see images of them online, we take notice.
Give Me the Goss
When you are blind to what the book looks like, you need to be judgmental in other forms. The title of a book alone can grab you or leave you drowning in a yawn. The best way to entice someone to a book is not to lavish them with information but to give them a hint of a secret.
Everyone wants to discover a good secret. A juicy bit of gossip, that is what a good book is. I have learnt about many books simply from hearing people talk – or tweet – about it. They say "I really want to read this book" or "I can't wait for this book" or "Best book I've read this year!" or "Have you read this book?"
This is a coin-toss. Part of me wants to be in on it. I want to know what people are talking to each other about. Is it really that great? Another part of me is horrified at the stream of attention. It's overwhelming. It's off-putting. It doesn't feel like a secret if everyone is shouting it, flaunting it.
Here's the Skinny
There are book reviews all over the blogosphere. The reason I learn so much about new and upcoming books is because of blogs I have stumbled upon.
How much does a review impact my decision to read a book? Hmm... Well, there is the introduction to the plot synopsis, which gives you an insight into the kind of story it is, but the addition of how another being has appreciated the book makes it far more real.
On the other hand, there can be that desire not to want to know how another person perceives a book before you read it (even if there are no spoilers – please, no spoilers!) but that is usually only if you are already set on reading it.
Extra, Extra, Read All About It!
Did you know that fancy people write these books? They don't just pop out of the ground! Who knew?
I used to always think of authors as persons distant and unreachable. They existed on the New York Times Best Seller List and in a little room locked away, like a voluntary cinder person, feeding off coffee and typing fervently in the dark. It sounds both creepy and inspiring.
I have learnt in recent times that authors are real people. You can shake the hand of one or tweet with them, depending on where you and they are respectively.
When I read interviews with authors, on blogs or on their websites, where they are talking about the book of interest, it feels more personal. I know something about this author and about this book straight from the author's gob. Where the inspiration came from, what it means to them – it makes me far more likely to want to pick up the book, because that author isn't just a person in a cellar on the other side of the world. They are a person in a cellar whom I can tweet with. Awesome.
The greatest tell as to whether a book is worth your time is to sample the actual writing. A novel can have the best title, the best synopsis, the biggest following and the nicest author, but if the writing doesn't grab you there isn't much you can do. Well, except run like The Doctor in the other direction!
If you want to check out the start of a novel there are a few things you can do.
1. Walk to your local book store. They may or may not have the title, and you will have to get off your bottom and go somewhere to read a book that may either not interest you or be what your have been waiting for all your life, but don't have the money to buy at that exact moment in time. Perhaps call to check first.
2. Check Amazon to read an excerpt of the book if it has a "look inside" arrow thingy around the cover. Or Barnes & Noble has free samples of their ebooks. I've looked into a few of these and it has cemented my interest in a book, where it would otherwise have waned.
3. Sometimes authors and publishers have sample first chapters/excerpts available on their websites. This is the best option to look into if the book in question has not been released yet. It is very exciting if the excerpt is good, but expect to squirm if it's not being released for another four months.
I find that the best way to get me to decide to read a book is to get a sample of the text and see how I like it, but all of the other things are what help me notice the book in the first place.
What does it take to get you to read a book? Are you influenced by book buzz?