What persuades you to buy a book?

The BookDepository

basketBook bloggers are continually adding to my wish list, but it takes something special for me to be persuaded to run out and buy the book straight away.



I recently realised that I am far more likely to buy a book based on a one line recommendation in the comment section of my blog, than when I see a full review somewhere else. The most extreme example of this was my recent Science Fiction Challenge post, which resulted in me buying three books.

I also find that I am persuaded to buy books based on tweets directed at me. If a trusted person sends a tweet similar to the one below I am highly likely to get hold of a copy.

Book A is the best book I’ve read this year, and I’m sure you’ll love it.

It doesn’t make sense that I am more likely to buy books when I have such little information about them, but I think it is the passion behind the message that makes it so powerful. The fact that this person I trust for book recommendations selects just one book and champions it above all others, specifically to me, makes it something very hard to ignore.

What is most likely to persuade you to buy a book?

Do you find your own comment section a valuable source of book recommendations?

Or, do you need to know much more about a book before deciding to purchase it?

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  1. Verity says:

    I agree with you – comments are a really good way of getting recommendations for books. So often people mention that they also liked X, and they also enjoyed Y which is sort of related and you might too – and then it is easy to look it up and see if you might like it. I tend then to click onto Amazon to look for a synopsis and other reviews. I am persuaded sometimes to look for books after reading reviews, but I don’t enjoying reading reviews so much. I also read the books supplements with the weekend papers for recommendations, but otherwise rely on browsing – there’s no substitute for having the book in your hand to decide if you want to read it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, I also tend to click through to Amazon before buying too. I am rarely influenced by what I see there, but it is nice to have a vague idea of waht the book is about before buying it.

  2. Sandy says:

    I’m starting to think it is totally based on my mood. Somedays, I require information to make a decision. Other days, I will read that so-and-so author highly recommends some book, and that is all it takes. Either way, 9 times out of 10, I need the name of a book on a list to buy it. I’m not usually one for wandering in and buying something blind and on impulse.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I never buy anything blind any more – I have so many on my wishlist that buying blind is not an option any more! I am very mood orientated too – some days nothing will persuade me to buy a book and other days the briefest mention will have it in the post.

  3. Jenny says:

    In real life, I almost never buy books without having read them first. When I’m on vacation, though, or at the once-a-year university book bazaar – essentially, any time I give myself permission to spend money – I will buy books on the slightest provocation, if the cover’s pretty, or I think I remember reading one nice review one time maybe. But in the ordinary way of things, I will get the book out of the library first, and buy a copy later on if I really like it.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, It is strange how different we are – I will never buy a book I’ve read (unless it is a present for someone else) once I’ve read something I have no real interest in it – it is those unread, therefore mysterious books that have me reaching for the money!

  4. Meghan says:

    I rarely buy books if I haven’t read a ton of reviews on them unless they are favorite authors. I like to know that a whole lot of people loved a book before I spend money on it. If I had more money, I might be freer with my choices. I’m looking forward to finding out when I do.

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, I don’t need lots of people to rave about a book before buying it, as I have found that I often don’t like books which are enjoyed by the masses. It is all down to who recommends it – someone with a taste that matches mine will have a lot more influence over me than 100s of rave reviews – just look at my Outlander post – that has more positve reviews on Amazon than anything other than Harry Potter and I still didn’t like it!

  5. Simon S says:

    I have to say it takes something very special to make me run out and buy a book right then and there. Its normally a favoruite authro releasing something new. Blogs persuade me to buy a book if I totally trust the bloggers thoughts or they say its ‘the best book in ages’ otherwise they go on a list inn my filofax and when am, or when I was rather, meandering through book shops new or second hand I will pop them in my basket then not instantly on the whole.

    1. Jackie says:

      Simon, Anything on my wishlist goes straight in the basket if I see if in a second hand shop – hence the stupidly large TBR pile I currently own! I tend not to buy that many new books, but will reserve books I really want to read at the library or on bookmooch. It does take someone special to make me buy a new book straight away.

  6. Michelle says:

    It could be a single comment, it could be a review, something I heard about a book.. it all depends on my mood. Somedays I’m more open to buying books on a flimsy reason than other days.

    1. Jackie says:

      Michelle, I wonder if anyone has ever done any research on the best day to pitch to people? Perhaps people are more susceptible to impulse buys on a Friday when they are looking forward to the weekend?!

  7. Claire says:

    It’s entirely subjective for me what will capture my attention. I had a look at my wishlist a moment ago and there aren’t many recent blogger recommendations on it but at the top there’s a book that I came across in The Guardian at the weekend. There have been a few reviews where I have read about a book and instantly bought it or, more likely, requested it from the library but I have to trust the reviewer and my own instincts. Sometimes just the synopsis of a book will excite me enough to head out to purchase a book but that’s rare.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I haven’t had anything in my wishlist that hasn’t come from a blogger for a long time. Which book did you discover via the Gurdian? It is rare for the synopsis of a book to persuade me to buy – but I might (rarely) pick it up in the library on blurb alone – it normally leads to disappointment, so I try to avoid that now.

      1. Claire says:

        The Cat Inside by William Burroughs – as soon as I read about it I knew it was for me!

        1. Jackie says:

          Claire, I can see why that might be the perfect book for a cat lover! I hope that you enjoy it!

  8. Molly says:

    Due to financial circumstances, it is very rare that I will run out and purchase a book right away. However, I very often will log onto the library website immediately after reading a favorable book review and request the book be sent to my local branch. After reviewing the book in person, I then decide whether the library edition will suit me fine, or if I need to add the book to my personal collection. Of course, I have added MANY books to my personal collection in the past year — when I discovered the book blogging community!

    1. Jackie says:

      Molly, I often request library books straight away (or see if a copy is available on bookmooch), but because I also sell books it doesn’t really matter how much they cost as I can always sell them for the same amount (or more!) afterwards. The book blogging community has been amazing at suggesting books though – I have so many books I want to read now!

  9. Teresa says:

    It depends for me. I don’t buy many books–I try to limit my purchases to books I can’t get from the library. But I do get lots of recommendations from bloggers. There are a few reviewers who could convince me to read a book with just a little information, but most of the time I need more than a line. I’d have to already be interested in the premise or author. Blog reviews tend to bring the possibilities to my attention, and then I look into them more.

    And I agree on recommendations from comments. I’ve added several books to my list that were recommended by commenters.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, I have to admit that there aren’t many bloggers who can convince me with a single line – but those 10 – 20 people are very powerful!

  10. claire says:

    The book I purchased from a comment (Steph’s) was I Capture the Castle, which I absolutely loved. So yes, but then like you it depends on the blogger, whether I trust her/his tastes enough. Bloggers with similar tastes often add to my wish list a lot. However, like Claire, I also sometimes jump at a book just from a synopsis. It depends, really, what interests me. Mostly I will purchase fave authors’ other titles.

    Oh wait, now I realize. When I read passages in reviews and find that the author’s writing style is to my liking, that’s a big step towards making it to my wish list. I’m all for form more than anything else, so..

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I have a copy of I Capture the Castle, but I haven’t read it yet – I have seen so many amazing things about it though, so am sure I’ll love it.

      It is interesting that you can be tempted to buy a book by passages in a review. Snippets of writing like that have never been enough to persuade me to buy a book – but they can cross it off the list!

  11. cbjames says:

    I’m something of an impulse buyer when it comes to books. An interesting review on a blog carries a lot of weight for me. I’ve left many a blog and headed straight to Paperbackswap.com to look for the book. If it’s there and I have a credit I’ll get it without any further investigation.

    I sometimes carry a little list of books with me when I go to bookstores, especially used book stores. In that case the actual, physical book has to appeal to me as well. Many times something that’s been on my list has been crossed off once I read the back of the book.

    1. Jackie says:

      cbjames, It is interesting to hear that you are sometimes put off by the physical book – I have never had that happen – if someone tells me that it is great then I don’t care what it looks like, or what the back says – it is the contents that counts and that will have been confirmed as worth reading by the original person who recommended it.

  12. Stephanie says:

    A lot of times I go to the bookstore without the intention of buying specific books, but then I will see them and remember that I read a good review from a blogger I trust, and that will entice me to buy a book.

    Or, I will fall prey to the mass consensus of book bloggers. For instance, I had no intention of buying The Hunger Games at first. And then I saw blog after blog after blog mention it and I thought “ok, this may not be my usual book of choice, but if this many people are raving about it, I should give it a shot.”

    1. Jackie says:

      Stephanie, The Hunger Games is one example of a book I bought straight after reading a review – it was the first review I’d seen for that book (before it hit hype status) but the power of the review told me how good it was, so I bought it within seconds.

  13. Rachel says:

    A personal recommendation from someone I trust or an intriguing review in the paper are normally what prompt me to buy a book. When I say personal recommendation that can be via blogs or in real life too.

    I always check Amazon reviews as well, I set a lot of store by those as if masses of people love a book I know it can’t be too much of a dud.

    I rarely if never buy books impulsively or from reading the blurb on the back. I only buy books from charity/second hand book shops that I have already heard of and have had recommended to me. I don’t do spontaneous book buying at all!

    1. Jackie says:

      Rachel, I often buy books second hand without knowing anything about them – if they are cheap enough. I feel it is worth the risk for 50p and don’t feel I’ve wasted any money if it is going to charity. I then do a blog search of the book to see if it is worth reading!

  14. Shona says:

    I am a totally impulsive buyer when it comes to books. I remember picking up 20 books when I went to a book exhibition with my dad when I was 14 .He happily paid for them but when we got home , I remember how mom reacted :) My room was already overflowing with books :)

    I still do such kind of things. Some times book covers inspire me ( and tht has gone wrong many times ) and sometimes a friends recommendation. In past few months I have been able to make a few intelligent choices based on some wonderful reviews I found in blogosphere.

    But in the end it is my impression on seeing the blurb , I guess.

    1. Jackie says:

      Shona, It is fantastic to hear that your Dad supported you in your book buying! I often come back with loads of books – especially if they are cheap.

      I’m sure that the blogging world will soon be your major source of recommendations – there are so many fantastic books out there!

  15. Misfit says:

    Heh, I never “buy” a book unless the library doesn’t have it or I can’t get it via ILL, with the exception of Sharon Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick. I will buy their new releases sight unseen. I base most of my reading decisions on friends I have with similar tastes on Goodreads, Amazon (not Klausner and her ilk mind you) or Historicalfictiononline.

    1. Jackie says:

      Misfit, Unfortuantely my library often doesn’t have what I want, so I have to buy it if I want to read it.

  16. Priscilla says:

    Reviews, mood, and impulse. Generally I use reviews to add things to my TBR list, along with the book description. Beyond that, I am driven completely by impulse and mood, which is why I have never been able to systematically work my way through a list of books. I’ve had some books on my TBR list for years–like Random Family, by Adrian LeBlanc–but one day I was reading a list of “must read” books that Nick Hornby had compiled, and something snapped. I went immediately to the library and checked it out.

    1. Jackie says:

      Priscilla, I’ve had some books in my TBR pile for years too. I found the TBR challenge to be the hardest this year and one of the only ones that I probably wont finish. It is strange as when I get round to them they are normally brilliant!

  17. Kim says:

    A recommendation from a bookseller gets me every time. At dinner last night my husband talked about a woman in his office that splurges on $2,000 purses. We laughed and I mentioned that my splurges are far less expensive, books are anywhere from $15 to $30. He agreed, buy someone at the table who now won’t be getting any Christmas presents, mentioned that I buy several every time I go into a bookstore. Guilty as charged.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I agree – there are a lot of worse things we could spend our money on! I have never had a bookseller recommendation – I think things are a bit different in the UK!

  18. She says:

    I haven’t bought a book in such a long time– the library selection where I live is pretty fabulous. If I do happen to be in a book store and just so happen to have the hankering to buy a book, I usually try to find a book by an author I already know I like. If I can’t find an author then I go to highly recommended books from other people. :D

    1. Jackie says:

      She, You are so lucky to have a fantastic library. Mine is only good if you are after books 2 – 10 years old. Everything else seems to be missing!

  19. Kathleen says:

    Online reviews and comments on my blog create a lot of piles in my TBR stack! I also get ideas from the NY Times Book Review and last but not least I just wander around the bookstore or library and pick up stuff and read the book jacket and select a few “wild cards”.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, I have found my wildcards to be so disappointing, so don’t do that any more. I have more than enough books with a good recommendation to back them up!

  20. Annabel says:

    There are few books that I’ll rush out to get straight away – Howards End is on the Landing was one that I went straight to Amazon for after reading about it first on DGR. But I pick up info from everywhere, reading the weekend papers, the Lit Review, and of course increasingly recommendations from the blogosphere, but most of all hours browsing – particularly in my local indie bookshop – the owner spends all his time getting to know his customers and often I’ll walk into the shop – see a book in front of me and have to buy it there and then, ‘I knew you’d spot that one’ he said.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, It is great to hear that your bookseller takes the time to get to know you. Personal recommendations are always the best!

  21. Melody says:

    I rely on fellow bookbloggers’ recommendation/opinions a lot, especially when it comes to books by new-to-me authors. Sometimes, the cover is just so eye-catching and attractive that I know I’ve to get it! And yes, impulse do plays a part too, LOL.

    1. Jackie says:

      Melody, Covers rarely attract me, but I am very impulsive, so often end up buying more books than I wanted to!

    1. Jackie says:

      J.T. Interesting – I never buy anything spefically for challenges – I have enough books floating round the house already!

  22. Rebecca Reid says:

    I have to read a book and love it before I’ll buy it new! I haven’t bought a book new in more than six months. Sometimes I mooch a book or buy it on a thrift table (if I saw good recommendations for it), but I don’t buy new books. I don’t have that kind of money!

    (Although I’d love to buy new books. I was really hoping I won that gift card!!)

    1. Jackie says:

      Rebecca, Sorry you didn’t win the gift card! I am impressed that you haven’t bought a new book for six months – I haven’t got the will power! I do sell most of my books on though, so it doesn’t get too expensive.

  23. Violet says:

    I don’t buy any book immediately. I keep it in mind, sometimes I add it to my wishlist if I feel I might not be able to recall the title. Then when I go to a bookstore and if while browsing I come across any book I wanted I buy it.

    I don’t buy online as a rule because then my TBR would really be out of control. If I buy one, there would be no stopping me. I want to draw the line somewhere.

    That said, like you, a comment, a review or just a mention does make me want to buy a book.

    1. Jackie says:

      Violet, I think my problem is that I buy a lot online – it is too easy, so I buy a lot more than I would if I only had access to shops (most of the books I buy I wouldn’t be able to find in a shop anyway!)

  24. Matt says:

    I usually buy more classics; for contemporary stuffs I buy the books of authors whom I have enjoyed reading. I also rely on several book bloggers whose reading taste is very similar to mine.

  25. I will buy books based on reviews and recommendations from people whose taste is usually in sync with mine. If I’m browsing in a book shop, it’ll be the cover that makes me pick a book up, but if the blurb and the first page don’t interest me, that’s as far as it goes. I’m interested in the subject of covers right now, as I’ve just put a post on my own site, inviting readers to select one of the seven cover designs for my new novel. I’ve already had quite a lot of feedback and it’s been very useful to see how differently people are judging these options. I might even have to change my mind about my favourite one.
    I’d love to have views from readers of this blog (For those of you who rarely buy a book, this will be your chance to win a free copy!).Jackie, I hope you don’t mind me referring to my own site on your blog – but as you can see, covers are uppermost in my mind at the moment!


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