Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Acting on Impulse

by Stephanie Black

Last week’s question was about the library—do you ever purchase the books of an author whose work you first sampled through the library? This week’s question is about bookstore impulse buys. Do you ever buy novels totally on impulse?

I don’t tend to buy a lot of national fiction, period, unless I’m so passionate about the book (or series) that I want to own my own copy (e.g. Harry Potter) or I’m going on a trip and don’t want to take a library book. If I’m browsing in an airport bookstore, the first books I’ll look for are novels by authors I know and love (Mary Higgins Clark or Diane Mott Davidson, for instance). If I don’t see any new books by favorite authors, I might choose something I’ve heard great things about—my last purchase of this type was the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith. I didn’t end up reading it on that trip, but I’ve heard it’s a great book and intend to read it someday (maybe on my next trip!). A couple of times in airport bookstores, I’ve bought a book I didn’t know anything about because it looked interesting or looked more interesting than the other books in a limited selection.

My LDS fiction-buying pattern is very different from my national-market habits. Because I live in an area where the library doesn’t stock LDS fiction--okay, I think they have a Gerald Lund novel--I buy a lot more than I would if I lived in Utah and could easily sample new authors for free (yes, I know about interlibrary loan, but do I ever think of that when I’m at the library? I really should try it out). I like to have an idea of what’s happening in the LDS suspense market, so I’m much more willing to buy an LDS novel by an author I haven’t read before than I would be to pay money for the work of an unfamiliar national author. I used to sometimes buy books I’d never heard of and knew nothing about, beyond the description on the backliner, but now that I’m much more involved in the market, I’m likely to have already read about the book in a Seagull or Deseret Book catalog or I’ve heard other people talking about the book online, or I’m cyber-acquainted with the author.

And here’s a confession: sometimes I’ve bought books because I wanted to go into the bookstore and gaze fondly at my book on the shelf and chat with bookstore staff—but do I want the staff to know that I’m there mainly on an ego trip? Of course not. So I buy a book. Have any of you authors out there ever done this or am I the only one?

I’ve also bought books on staff recommendation. If my heart isn’t set on a particular book but I do want to purchase one, the enthusiastic endorsement of bookstore staff will carry some weight. I once bought a book I hadn’t intended to buy--bypassing a book that I’d thought looked interesting--because the bookstore employee spoke so highly of book B (but not of book A).

Do you ever buy books on impulse? If you walked into a bookstore with no plans to buy a particular book, what would impel you to shell out cash for it? What draws you to a book? The cover? The backliner? A recommendation by bookstore staff? How much are you influenced by endorsement blurbs on the back of a book? Have you ever purchased a book because an author you admire endorsed it? I hope so, because I've got blurbs from some fantastic authors for my next book . . .


10 Comments:

At 10/10/2007 7:04 PM, Anonymous mean aunt said...

Is this a trick question? I buy everything on impulse.

 
At 10/10/2007 7:24 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

I constantly buy books on impulse. A lot of the time I've heard something about them, but not always. When I'm browsing, it's the title or the cover that intrigues me, then I go to the backliner. Sometimes I let that tempt me but I prefer recommendations by staff or, even better, friends who have similar reading tastes. I never pay any attention to endorsements. Most of them lie.

 
At 10/10/2007 7:26 PM, Blogger Josi said...

I'll buy a discounted LDS title I've never heard of if it's less than $4 and the back liner and first page read well. I'll by national fiction at an airport, or, like you, if it's one of my favorite series or if I really want to read it and can't find it at the library. And I'll buy LDS books at full price if they are highly recommended and I've read good reviews.

 
At 10/10/2007 8:27 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I bought the Gunseller by Hugh Laurie on Rob's advice (haven't read it yet)

Here's my guilty confession: when shopping for books for my wife, I look for book club endorsements - like Oprah and such. Well, I look for her favorite authors first, but you're not going to see more than one Maeve Binchy or Jennifer Weiner book a year.

 
At 10/11/2007 12:08 AM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

I hardly ever buy national fiction unless I've read it and loved it. As for LDS fiction, I'll buy lots of discount stuff. I also try to buy one full price title a month, sometimes two. I just see it as doing my part to support LDS writers.

 
At 10/11/2007 11:39 AM, Blogger W.L. Elliott said...

I always flip a book over and read the back, if that grabs me I'll look closer. I know that they say that browsers look at the first page, and that is why the hook is important - but I usually don't even look at the first page. I will flip to somewhere in the middle, read a few paragraphs and if the writing grabs me, I'll pick it up. If the first page I flip to doesn't thrill or kill me, I'll flip through a few more and make a decision.

 
At 10/11/2007 11:59 AM, Blogger Jennifer Leffler said...

For national authors it has to be something that I will read and read again (Harry Potter) for LDS authors some recommendation is always helpful as I also don't live in the LDS market and books can get expensive when you add shipping.

 
At 10/11/2007 1:18 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

I will always buy a book when I'm at the airport, but I can only think of one fiction title I've bought there. 90% of what I read is non-fiction. (And for that, I suck.)

I generally don't buy any fiction unless I know the author. And I almost never buy hardback--the only exception I can think of is Brandon Sanderson's books.

 
At 10/11/2007 2:27 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I buy books on impulse when they're by an author I know and love. And most of the time, when I know them personally. The rest of the time, I read the book at the library and then buy it.

 
At 10/12/2007 9:06 AM, Blogger Rebecca Talley said...

I buy LDS books as much as I can, usually by authors I "know." I don't live in an LDS area, but when I travel I always go to the bookstores and buy 2-3 titles. I also order online. I like to read LDS books I've heard about, but I don't always go with that. I'll choose one by an author I cyber-know over a book I've heard about. I never, ever do library books because it's far cheaper for me to buy them in the first place than to pay the fees when my kids add their own illustrations to the library books (and our library doesn't stock LDS books anyway).

 

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