Do you judge a book by its cover? I know that observations in bookstores have shown a similar pattern in how potential readers browse in bookstores. I've seen it myself, and so have you. The reader goes first to the desired section--romance, mystery, sci fi, etc. (For me, this comes after a stop at the cafe to have a Chai Latte.) Then a quick glance over the shelves. The eye settles on a book, attracted by either the cover, the title, or the author's name. Next step--pick it up. Most people then flip the book over to read the back cover copy. If they're still interested, they'll open it and read the first page. And then?
Well, some people will jump to the end of the book to make sure that the ending is happy--after all, no one wants to invest hours reading a book only to discover that a favorite character dies in the end! Unless, of course, that's the sort of book you've looking for.
And then the book is tucked under the arm while the browsing continues, following the same routine over and over.
But wait! How many of us now have a bookstore within easy reach? My small town used to boast two independent bookstores, in addition to the college bookstore and the Waldenbooks at the local mall. Where are they now? Gone in the blink of an eye. Even Walmart has stopped carrying the large selection of books they once did. So what's a book-lover to do?
If you're like me, you're probably buying most of your books online now. What is the role of the usual browsing? Do the same parameters apply?
Honestly, I don't know the answer to that question. I find that as a reader, I've been stung too many times in downloading a book which had an appealing cover and induced a reaction similar to throwing the book across the room, except that I don't toss my Kindle. So my answer has been to gravitate over and over to familiar author names. I search by author, not by category, and when I'm lucky, I find a book I either haven't read or read so long again that I'd enjoy reading it again.
You'll notice I'm providing only questions, no answers! How do you pick the books and authors you're willing to take a chance on? Do you rely on the cover more or less than when browsing in a bookstore?
If anyone has an answer, I'd love to hear it. In the meantime, I can only hope that the cover to my upcoming HQN Book, ECHO OF DANGER, releasing April 24th, says "Buy me! Buy me!" to fans of romantic suspense!