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Your book shopping habits?

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N. Gemini Sasson
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Your book shopping habits?

Post by N. Gemini Sasson » Tue May 11th, 2010, 2:27 pm

Recently, I was part of a discussion with some other writers about what influences readers to buy a book. So, since historical fiction readers can be voracious book consumers, I thought I'd ask here. I realize these questions are very broad, but with fewer and fewer brick and mortar stores out there (the three bookstores in my hometown no longer exist) and the per cent of online purchases increasing, it's an interesting topic.

1) Where do you find the books you buy? (At a bookstore, at a general merchandise store, second-hand bookstore, or online?)

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first?

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy?

4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this?

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? (Advertisements, random chance, discussion lists, blogs, friends, etc.)

Feel free to add anything relevant. And thanks in advance for the input.

Sharz
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Post by Sharz » Tue May 11th, 2010, 4:07 pm

It is an interesting topic -- particularly when I think of how very different my answers are now, compared to what they would have been even a year ago, let alone five years ago.

1) Where do you find the books you buy? (At a bookstore, at a general merchandise store, second-hand bookstore, or online?) Either a chain bookstore or on-line. In the past the ratio has been about 90% bookstore and 10% online, but that has completely reversed in the past year.

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first?
Yes, generally I browse. I tend to go for my favorite genres first, to see if there’s anything new out, (particularly for favorite authors) and then pull back to the more general browsing, depending on how much time I have.

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy? They’ve become important in the past few years due to the shift to more on-line purchasing. I didn’t/don’t read reviews at all when shopping in bookstores. I pick up the book, survey the cover information, spot read throughout for a feel of the book, and make my decision. But I rely heavily on reviews (negative more than positive, typically) for on-line purchasing or trading--that is, when I can't physically pick up the book and see it for myself.

4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this? Word of mouth from discussion lists has become very important. About 70% of my 100 TBR is books and/or authors I would not have found or noticed browsing in the absence of such lists. Word of mouth from friends matters only to the extent that we share the same reading tastes—which isn’t very often.

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? (Advertisements, random chance, discussion lists, blogs, friends, etc.) For many years it was random browsing in bookstores, but the past few years, it’s mostly through discussion lists and blogs.
Last edited by Sharz on Tue May 11th, 2010, 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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N. Gemini Sasson
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Post by N. Gemini Sasson » Tue May 11th, 2010, 4:24 pm

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, Sharz. Btw, my buying habits have changed, too.

If anyone has a link to a more recent article on this, please feel free to share.

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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Tue May 11th, 2010, 8:01 pm

Okay, I'll play

1) Where do you find the books you buy? (At a bookstore, at a general merchandise store, second-hand bookstore, or online?)
I used to buy at least half my books at either the bookstore by my office or the one in my neighborhood where I do most of my shopping. The bookstore near my office closed a year ago and now B&N in my neighborhood will be closing its doors at the end of this month, so I guess I'm going to be doing a lot more online buying. I keep promising myself that this will be a good incentive to be more frugal and making better progress on the TBR. I also get an occasional book via swap sites. I'm expecting digital editions to be more in demand as eReaders become more popular, but there are still a lot of older books I haven't read that I have to search for used.

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first?
I'm definitely a browser in a brick & mortar bookstore. Online, I might randomly browse, but more often than not, I am targeting a particular subject, period or author that has piqued my interest.

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy?
Moderately... but I also rely on my own instincts and idiosyncratic reading tastes.

4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this?

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? (Advertisements, random chance, discussion lists, blogs, friends, etc.)
I'm answering #4 and 5 together, because I largely get most of my information about books online. I really don't socialize much IRL. I get ideas and recommendations mainly from forums like this and book blogs, but I'm always self-aware of my own personal tastes, so I rely equally on my reading mood and going wherever my whimsy takes me.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Tue May 11th, 2010, 8:13 pm

Speaking with my reader hat on:

1) Where do you find the books you buy? (At a bookstore, at a general merchandise store, second-hand bookstore, or online?)
Mostly online either at Amazon for fiction, Oxbow books for reference and Abe for out of print. I will buy maps and the occasional book from Waterstones. My dh is more likely to buy from a bricks and mortar store than I am.

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first?
At a bricks and mortar store I know what I'm going in to buy. Online I generally know what I'm going to buy, but I also have a little browse at the same time. I frequently test the water at the library, but I don't buy second hand in print fiction because I feel if I'm going to buy the book, the author should get the royalty

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy?
Not very unless I know the reviewer.

4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this?
Important, but I have to know that the person shares my tastes most of the time.

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? (Advertisements, random chance, discussion lists, blogs, friends, etc.)
Word of mouth from like-minded friends, discussion lists, blogs, random from the library. I do browse there and pick up all sorts. Some of which I go on to buy and some that I would never touch again with a barge pole! Adverts and promo tend to leave me cold. I ignore them and sometimes even cut off my nose to spite my face by refusing to even look at a book that is being over-hyped, especially if the author is interested in nothing but the hype. I guess I hate being a Wildebeest herded into the blind canyon by the lions!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Wed May 12th, 2010, 3:33 am

Very interesting thread!

1) Where do you find the books you buy? (At a bookstore, at a general merchandise store, second-hand bookstore, or online?) Both bookstores and online. When shopping at a bricks-and-mortar store, I usually go to Powell's, which carries both new and used, shelved together. It's pretty rare for me to buy a book at a general merchandise store.

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first? I'm a recreational book-browser, so I find a lot of the books I buy this way - most of them, probably. I do some general browsing in the "new books" shelves and other areas, but do hone in on subjects that interest me - German history is my heaviest browsing area right now. I also browse astrology books. I'll browse fiction shelves to see if an author I like has a new book out, or an old one I haven't read, and then I usually browse the nearby shelves as well.

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy? Reviews alert me to books I might want to read, and then if further investigation persuades me I really do want to read it, I'll go ahead and buy (or more often, check it out of the library). But I probably wouldn't buy a book based on a good review alone.

4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this? As others have said, this depends on whether our tastes coincide. Every now and then, I'll read a book strongly recommended by a good friend or my husband, or a HFO BOM book, so we can discuss it - I really enjoy book discussions, even when the book wasn't a big hit with me.

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? (Advertisements, random chance, discussion lists, blogs, friends, etc.) Browsing, usually, or because I've read and enjoyed other books by the author. Also, if I've read a library book and really, really liked it, I will often go out and buy my own copy.
Browse over 5000 historical novel listings (probably well over 5000 by now, but I haven't re-counted lately) and over 700 reviews at www.HistoricalNovels.info

Ash
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Post by Ash » Wed May 12th, 2010, 3:51 am

1) Where do you find the books you buy? (At a bookstore, at a general merchandise store, second-hand bookstore, or online?)

About 1/3 online (usually through used bookstores), about 1/3 at a second hand store, about 1/3 at a bookstore (indie and chain)

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first?

I tend to go for a particular era or subject matter first, but then I browse, depending on how much time I have

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy?

Depends on who has written the review. If I read Amazon reviews, I start with the 3 star ones, they are often the more honest and interesting. I often read reviews after I've read a book to get an idea what others think and to see if I've missed anything in my read.

4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this?

Very important; most of the books Ive read in the last few years have been from online discussion groups or from friends

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? (Advertisements, random chance, discussion lists, blogs, friends, etc.)

Discussion forums, book blogs, bookstore emails


I'd add another question: when browsing, what influences you to pick up a book and later decide to read it?

Intriguing title, or known author will get me to pick up a book. I tend to read the cover flap, read the first page or so, then read a few other random pages to get a feel for how its written to see if I might like it. Often I'll first write the title and author down and take my list to the library, where I can get a better feel for if I want to read the book.
Last edited by Ash on Wed May 12th, 2010, 1:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Wed May 12th, 2010, 5:01 am

Like others, none of my answers would have been the same five years ago.

1) Where do you find the books you buy? (At a bookstore, at a general merchandise store, second-hand bookstore, or online?)

I buy almost all of my books online nowadays. Occasionally I will get one from the library. Sometimes I will pick one off the table at Costco, but only if I already know something about the book, the subject or the author.

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first?

Era and subject matter come first. I have a TBR list miles deep, so I don't need to go looking for new material. But despite that, new material keeps getting added to my list.

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy?

I'm pretty cynical about reviews and blurbs, especially if they are from other writers. I've noticed a recurring theme of "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" among writers, and as a reader I've come to distrust it. I also ignore professional reviewers--most don't share my taste.

4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this?

This has become the most important in the last few years, so long as the endorser is one who likes what I like.

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? (Advertisements, random chance, discussion lists, blogs, friends, etc.)

Forums, blogs, and friends.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Wed May 12th, 2010, 5:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Madeleine
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Post by Madeleine » Wed May 12th, 2010, 9:20 am

OK here goes:

1) I'd say I'm about half and half as regards to online/"real" store, generally online tends to be better if I've discovered an author new to me and want to read their back catalogue, but for new books it's usually a real store, unless Amazon or someone has it cheaper!

2) usually I know what I'm going to buy, although I'm always on the lookout for an interesting looking book, so a bit of browsing usually takes place too.

3) I'll look at reviews but tend not to take them too literally, although I think if a lot of reviewers (I'm referring to Amazon's reviews here) say the same thing about a book ie if it's bad or just plain silly, I would take that into account. I also like reading the reviews when I've finished a book, especially if I didn't like it, to see if others feel the same.

4) Again, I'll take other people's views into account, but as we're all so different, ultimately I make up my own mind.

5) Mainly from adverts, reviews on the book pages of the paper, and of course, forums like this one!
Currently reading "Wild Fire" by Ann Cleeves

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Wed May 12th, 2010, 10:24 am

Where do you find the books you buy? Amazon usually because they have the cheapest prices.

2) Do you generally browse to find a book that might interest you, and if so do you take a broad approach or do you hone in on a particular era or subject matter first? I'm usually looking for one particular era

3) How important are reviews in influencing what you do or don't buy?
Very important. I follow a few reviewers online and I trust their judgment. They seem to have the same taste as mine, for the most part.


4) How important is word of mouth endorsement - for example, from a friend or on a discussion list such as this? Pretty important. I've found a lot of great books through word of mouth..usually through blogs, or this MB

5) Where do you generally learn of books that you later end up buying? Blogs for the most part. They highlight upcoming novels. I also do searches on Amazon to see what the next publication date is for say a Louisa May Alcott book.
News, views, and reviews on books and graphic novels for young adult.
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