So there’s been a little bit of drama with booktube lately, but, honestly, enough people have addressed it that I don’t really want to. Instead, I’d like to discuss a different thing.
If you follow me on twitter (link at the bottom of this post), you might have noticed that I was really excited about going on a book-buying binge. See, every year, I save up all the Barnes and Noble gift cards I get (which I get primarily on Christmas and my birthday) until employee appreciation week when the employee discount on books increases.
Yesterday was the first day of that week, and I bought a nice little mountain of books for relatively cheap. This all had me thinking about how I decided to go buy a book, which books I buy, and my general buying habits. For a vaguely related discussion, you can check out my post on libraries from aabout a year ago. I also posted my thoughts on book hauls a few months ago.
I walk into Barnes and Noble, armed with gift cards, and check my limit first. What’s my budget? On this kind of spree, it’s usually the gift card limit with about a book’s worth to spare, just in case the decision gets difficult.
Then, I browse. Oh, this is a dangerous part of the game. First, I look for books I’ll recognize by title and author that are (preferably) not sequels to series I haven’t read. I collect them in a basket, make myself cozy in the cafe, and browse through the books. I consider their summaries more carefully, and read the first few pages or so to decide whether I really want them. I make four piles: maybe yes, true maybe, maybe no, and no I guess not. The maybe no and no I guess not books get put away again, and everything else reconsidered. I do this at least twice.
Once I’ve a fair few books collected, I do the math. Add up all the books. Apply the discount. Apply the sales tax, and see where my total is. Once I’ve met my total (or gone slightly over), I go to the register, pay, and take home two massive bags of books. Putting them on my shelves is still one of my favorite versions of tetris.
But, I suppose, the big thing is… how do I decide what to actually get?
Name recognition has been shown (according to political science instructors) to be a major factor in the success of political campaigns. For me, something similar occurs with books. Do I know the title? Do I know the author—by name or by having read something from them before? Have I heard good, bad, or mixed things? This also makes it much more likely to pick up something from the shelf itself (though I’ll pick up things I haven’t heard of, too; it’s just less likely).
I’m 10 times more likely to pick up fiction than nonfiction (though there were several nonfictions I considered and still intend to read, I didn’t actually purchase any yesterday), and much more likely to pick up fantasy than contemporary/thriller/mystery/etc. They’re genres that yes, I’m more familiar with, but I also find myself much more attracted. I’ll pick contemporaries off the shelf, read the cover summary, and put them back without thinking much more of them. They don’t grab me the same way a fantasy summary tends to: even if I’ve read 40 books about vampires before, I’m going to pick up another vampire story if it sounds intriguing.
If a book has passed the first two tests, I flip it open and read a few pages. This is where the great test is, I suppose, because the way a book is written is the easiest way for me to decide. Voice makes or breaks the book. This is why I decided pretty much immediately that I wanted to read The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey: the voice just sucked me in. The same goes for You by Caroline Kepnes. It’s also why I’ve put aside things like The Clockwork Orange after less than a page.
For me, these are the three top considerations. Within them, there are naturally many more, smaller ones that comprise them, but really, it comes down to being interesting.
And an eye-catching cover always helps. Is it just me or do adult fantasy books have far less attractive covers than YA fantasies?
What makes you decide to buy a book?
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