Louise and Dave’s Posts about genre and sales of hardcover versus paperback books got me thinking about why people buy books and how. So I surveyed the Vision E-list. Since these people are readers and writers of Speculative Fiction, I thought they’d be a good example of dedicated readers.
Here’s a snap shot of readers:
Q: Why do you buy certain books?
Most people buy books on a recommendation or they like the author’s work. Brooke B said she’d buy a book if ‘ the back cover blurb gave me goosebumps’. Lee C is currently buying books to fill in gaps in their reading. And yes, people do browse and buy, after reading the first few pages, then skipping to the last page.
Q: Do you prefer certain genres?
While everyone did have favourite genres, these ranged from two or three related genres, to a broad spectrum, including mysteries, paranormal romances, historical and factual books. In fact, Nicky S described herself as a ‘book omnivore’.
Q: Would you follow a favourite author across genres?
Everyone said they would follow a favourite author across to other genres and Nicky S, bless her, said she has even discovered author’s alternate writing names and hunted up their books!
Q: Do you read books for kids and YA or do you stick to adult books?
Here the split was quite definite, a little less than half read only adult. But, Scott R said, it wasn’t that he didn’t like YA, only that there were so many good adult books around, he didn’t have the time to get through them. The others (slightly more than half) read YA and kids books and loved them. Sally N reads more YA than anything else.
Q: Do you pick a book up because of its cover?
Only two people said no, because they were looking for specific authors and titles. Everyone else said a good cover would prompt them to pick up the book, then it was up to the blurb and the writing to convince them to buy it. Sue B says a bad cover will turn her off looking at a book, and she always reads the first couple of pages anyway. No one would you buy a books for the cover art alone, although Sally N will buy a graphic novel. (Being an artist, I must confess I’ve bought books for the cover alone).
Q: Do you buy most of your books based on the recommendations of friends?(My question was flawed, I should have asked if people had bought some books based on friends’ recommendations).
Satima F said her friends loan books to introduce a new author, or she might borrow a recommended book from the library. Sue B says she always tries to borrow the book first , and has to love it before she will buy it (she’s running out of book shelf space!). Most people would consider a book a friend recommended.
Q: Do you ask bookstore staff for good reads?
I was surprised by the answers to this one, because when I go into our local independent book store (Pulp Fiction), I ask Iain or Ron if there are any interesting books that push the genre, particularly from independent publishers. But most people said they rarely or never ask book store staff for recommendations. Kylie Q found that staff were too busy or didn’t know anything, which is sad. Edwina H said she did read the ‘staff reviews’ on the shelves.
Q: Do reviews (good or bad) prompt you to buy books?
It is just as authors fears. All those review copies our publishers send out don’t reel in the readers. Only a few of the people surveyed would look at book after reading a good review, some actively ignore reviews. Graham S took an interest in reviews but only for scientific non-fiction. And S Wilson would buy a book if the review revealed interesting details.
Q: Would you wait for a paperback version or would you buy hardcover?
Most people were like Karen T, who said she would usually wait and wouldn’t buy hardcover unless she wanted it NOW.
Q: Do you prefer hardcover to paperback?
Four out of every five people said no. Although, Nicky S said she preferred hardcover because HC were easier to read while lying in bed. Edwina H said she preferred paperback because they were more portable.
Would you buy book two of a trilogy if you didn’t have book one?
Many people would definitely not buy book two if they didn’t have book one, or would only buy it by accident. Brooke B said she would buy book two if she was sure she could still get book one. And Edwina H would check to see if book two had a discrete story, before buying it. AJ Kay would buy book two if it was on special, then wait until they could get book one before reading them in sequence.
Q: Would you wait for all of a trilogy to come out before buying it?
Most people were willing to read the books as the trilogy came out. S Wilson would buy book one, read it and feel frustrated until book two came out. Really dedicated readers like Scott R would buy the trilogy, but wouldn’t read it until they had all three books. I have to admire his strength of will.
Q: Would you prefer an omnibus edition of a trilogy?
Most people wouldn’t buy an omnibus because the printing is too small and they get sore wrists because the book is too heavy. I must admit I’ve bought collected works in omnibus form but these tend to be classic editions.
Q: Do you visit independent books stores?
Nearly everyone visited independent book stores. Edwina H preferred them because they had better range and the staff had a good knowledge of their stock. Some people didn’t visit independent book stores due to distance. Kylie Q would have to catch two buses to get to one. Graham S lived even further. His local book store is 150 kilometres away. And Dave F had to drive for 5 hours to get to his nearest independent books store.
Q: Do you mainly buy from chain book stores?
Brooke B confessed she worked for a chain store and gets a discount, so she buys her books there. And about half the people surveyed bought most of their books from chain stores.
Q: Do you buy your books mostly online and get them delivered?
Half the readers don’t buy online. The other half do, especially if they are after something that is hard to get. Living 150 Ks from a book store, Graham S buys on line and gets his books delivered. Sally N orders books on line because she likes looking forward to something fun in her letter box. And Lee C, who prefers audio books, buys these online and downloads them.