Monday, April 07, 2008

Anatomy of a Book Sale

So this weekend, I picked up Meg Wolitzer's The Ten-Year Nap. We've discussed the book-buying decision several times on this blog, and since I'm fresh out of a meeting with my marketing and publicity team for Time of My Life, in which we talked about which publications actually get people to buy books, I've been paying particular attention to how I make my book-buying decisions. (Btw, I'll have more on my FABULOUS meeting coming up on the blog soon.)

So here's what happened: I saw a great review of TTYN in Entertainment Weekly, which, I believe, gave the book an A-. The book seemed to cover similar themes as those covered in Time of My Life - motherhood, the bigger picture, discontentedness, fulfillment, etc. Over the years, I've come to learn that my sensibilities match EW's nearly exactly, and since they so rarely give As, this review caught my attention. (Incidentally, the pr/mktg team agreed that EW is one of those places that really can sell books, so I'm not alone.)

From there, with my interest baited, I headed to both Amazon and GoodReads to see what others had thought. All good things, it turns out. And from there, because I suspected that Wolitzer might be a little too literary for my specific tastes (and because I judge a book based on its cover, and that too, seemed literary), I tried to read the excerpt on Amazon, but the link wasn't working, so I googled an excerpt, found one on NPR and discovered that this book was right up my alley.

I bought it later that day and dug into it that night (whoohoo, rockin' Saturday night at the Scotch household, thanks to an emergency in our babysitting situation!) and read until my eyelids could no longer hold themselves upright.

I have no idea if this is how most of the book-buying public makes their decisions, but I think this is a pretty standard way that I make mine. A lot of times, I buy books simply because I know the author, and whether or not it's truly a book that speaks exactly to me, I want to support him or her, so I whip out my wallet. But beyond that - and other than referrals from friends - this is the best way that I know how to end up with a book that I enjoy reading from first page to end.

So...let's get this discussion going. A) What are you currently reading? And B) if you're up to elaborating, how did you make the decision to buy it?

9 comments: said...

Hi Allison,
This weekend I started "The Magician's Assistant" by Ann Patchett. I bought it from, which is where I buy 95% of my books.

The first book of Patchett's that I read was "Run", then after reading how highly regarded she was as an author, I wanted to read her other books. I read "Bel Canto", and "Truth & Beauty". And now MA. I plan to read her two other novels as well.

It's not usual that I read everything an author writes, but I have a confession: Ann Patchett is a source of inspiration, she writes the type/style of book that I hope my own novels would someday rise to.

Regarding my more general book buying decisions: I receive the weekly NYT review of books via email. I also cruise around at least three times a week, and while I'm there I read customer reviews and that influences my decisions. Another confession: sometimes there are books I want to read, but feel unsure about, so I check them out of the library.

BTW, I can't wait to order Time of My Life from amazon!

Anonymous said...

Hi Allison,

Love your blog!

Finding the right book is a great topic. It's such an exciting moment when you sit down and open a new book--wondering who you will meet and where you will go.

I wander the book stores looking for a book to jump out at me. When it's an unknown author, it is based, initially, on cover design. Also, I am a sucker for the staff picks (if you liked this book, try.....).

What I love best to find a new book is a recommendation from a few trusted friends. When they are excited about a book, I RUN to the bookstore :)

I have to admit, there are two media sources that can turn me OFF of a book. I have been burned by PEOPLE MAGAZINE and OPRAH many times. If something has an Oprah logo on it, it makes the book less desirable. My friends and I actually have this conversation--well Oprah recommended it but read it anyway, you'll like it.

And we are by no means book snobs! We read everything under the sun!

My pile of books now include a new Greg Iles book for me, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, and Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli (two great kids books I am happily rereading with my fourth grader). Recently read the Twilight Series (yes for young adults!) and loved it.

Any recommendations for a plane ride to London? Leaving Saturday for the London Book Fair!

Anonymous said...

Lately I've been reading books by authors that my writing group friends say "remind them" of me. I want to see what they see, understand what they mean. I know they mean it as compliments since these are published writers.

So at this time, I'm reading like a writer and it's exhausting at times. Why some dialogue works for me, why some doesn't. How the plots twist or don't, if I like or am sympathetic to the characters.

Trish Ryan said...

I just finished "15 Minutes of Shame," which I learned about from the Debutante Ball blog. Now that I think of it, a bunch of my recent reads have come this way, through an engaging author interview, or finding an author's blog and realizing I like her voice.

bob said...

I'm reading Matrimony, I had on my blog a post about getting a "beach bag" of books reading for summer list and received a nice email from the author with a post to an interview he did that was on youtube. The interview made me move it up the list but the topic and the cover got me to put it on the list as soon as it came out.

I'm also trying to get thru Duma Keys from Stephen King, I'm a fan of his and read it just because it's from him.

But I do the same thing, I check GoodReads - which I love, otherwise it's word of mouth and/or Blurbs and Covers that get me to purchase a book.

Larramie said...

In the last year my book selections have been based on friend's/writer's recommendations, especially if they rave about the ARC.

And, Suzanne as well as everyone else, there's no need to wait to order Time of My Life. You can pre-order now, save 5% and not be billed until the book is shipped. How convenient is that?

Wendy Tokunaga said...

Thanks, Allison, for hosting me on your blog on the entry above this one. :-) Anyway, wanted to say that my dream is to be reviewed by Entertainment Weekly (more than the NY Times!), but alas, MIDORI BY MOONLIGHT was not picked up by them.

I do want to read The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer mainly because I enjoyed her last book "The Wife." I also heard her interviewed by Terry Gross on "Fresh Air" and became intrigued by her current book.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

My favorite topic! I just finished Jen Weiner's Certain Girls.

I'm reading Sara Zarr's Sweethearts. If you don't know Sara, she wrote The Story of a Girl and it was amazing, and Sweethearts--well, I am having an incredibly difficult time putting it down at night when I have to go to sleep. It's YA and WOW! She can write!

On my shortlist of must-get-to-cannot-waits: Driving Sideways by my great pal Jess Riley, which comes out May 20, and Sleeping with Ward Cleaver by Jenny Gardiner.

Does anyone ever find they have to be in a certain frame of mind before picking up a particular book? I am holding off on a couple just because I know what I am getting into, whether it be really humorous, or really deep, and I need to be "there" before I can start that particular book.

I also just bought another YA by a guy writer called 13 Reasons of something or the other... It's upstairs so I'm not sure the exact title.

I will be reading Welcome to Shirley, by Kelly McMasters, and giving it away on my blog.

Also, You're A Good Mom, also giving it away on Manic Mom, if there anyone wants to come by to enter.

I love, love, love, LOVE me some books!

Thanks for letting me share Allison!

Cindy said...

I love LOVE love good books too. I have to be in the right mood for certain books. If I read a serious literary book then I follow it up with a light funny novel. A thick historical fare is always followed with contemporary fiction.

Right now I am reading Then She Found Me by Elinor Lippman. I'm loving it. I saw the film trailer (yes it's a movie based on a book. the film stars Helen Hunt and Bette Midler) and decided I had to read the book.

Oh, please look me up on Good Reads- I list all books I've read and realized I have 103 books listed and only 3 friends!