Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Talk to Me: What Makes You Buy a Book?

I've been thinking a lot about book marketing lately, and what actually "moves the needle" in terms of selling a children's/YA book to a customer. So I thought I'd survey my readership and ask:  When you're standing in the bookstore or sitting at your computer on a bookselling site, what makes you actually purchase a book? (Beyond the title, cover design, and flap/descriptive copy, of course, as I take it for granted those need to be great; and friend recommendations, as those can be personalized to you.) I don't expect anyone to answer all of these questions, but just to list some things I'm curious about:

  • Are you usually buying books for children in your life, or for yourself?
  • Do you pick up a book because you've seen a great review? In that case, what sources (which blogs or publications) matter most to you as a reader? Do you pay attention to user reviews or stars on Amazon.com?  
  • Do you watch book trailers? Why?
  • Do you ever click through banner ads for books? On what sites do you notice them?
  • Do blurbs matter to you?
  • Do awards matter to you? What about lists? (E.g. Horn Book Fanfare, Texas Bluebonnet List)  
  • Given the small world of the kidlitosphere:  Of the last ten books you've bought, how many of the authors did you actually "know"? (Meaning you've had some substantive contact with them either online or in real life.)
  • If you pay attention to buzz, at what point does that translate to your seeking out a book? When it's everywhere? When the right person says it?  
  • Which of these factors -- again beyond the title, cover, flap copy, and friend recs -- has the MOST influence on you as a reader?
  • Opening it up:  Given our limited budgets, what should publishers be doing that we currently aren't doing in order to market books? Are there places we should be advertising to reach kids or teens? Media we should be in*? Cross-promotions we should be seeking out?
Obviously the answers are going to be different for every reader, and even every book bought by every reader, but I'd love to see what y'all have to say. Here are some of my answers:  I'm usually buying books for myself. I watch book trailers mostly out of curiosity about how their makers translate the book into visual form, given the usually limited budgets for such things. Reviews, buzz, and blurbs from or comparisons to the right author will all get me to pick up a book in the store, but the first pages have to sell me on it to get me to buy it. I notice banner ads in the PW newsletters and in the Unshelved weekly digest, and I also really like the Unshelved visual book talks and reviews. I love getting the Goodreads digest every day with my friends' substantive reviews, and those can inspire me to put a book on my to-read list, which is why I take good care with my own reviews (and also why I only add people I know in real life to my Goodreads friends list -- I don't need anything more to read!). The biggest reason I buy books is author loyalty:  I love a previous book by the author, and/or what I know of the author, and I want to have, and more than that, own his or her new one.

You?

Thanks for sharing!
_________________________________________
* Writing this, I suddenly had a vision of a video game in which somebody sits down and reads . . . but then the camera dives through the book, and you participate in the marvelous adventure in that book, until that comes to an end, and that tired protagonist sits down and opens a book . . . and then the camera dives through the book, and there's a completely different protagonist and you have to win through THAT adventure, which again would conclude in a book. . . . It would be the If on a winter's night a traveler** of video games! And awesome.


** Though I guess the TRUE Ioawnat video game would end each level with the protagonist sitting down to play a video game, thus keeping the loop going. And also there would be meta-commentary on what you-the-player would be doing between levels. This also sounds awesome.***

*** Now someone will tell me this video game was actually created in 2002. Go ahead, spoil my dream.  

34 comments:

  1. 1) I mainly buy for myself.

    2) Reviews matter a little. I'm learning which reviewers have the same opinion as me, and which ones don't. That helps. I do like to read what Entertainment Weekly has to say. Feel like it's going to be more toward my reading style than big newspapers, for instance.

    I've stopped paying attention to most ratings on Amazon, goodreads, ect. They usually don't match what mine would be.

    3) No. I don't watch trailers anymore. I used to, but I've found they kind of ruin it for me.

    4) Blurbs only matter if I truly like the author, and they aren't doing a blurb for a book just because they share the same agency.

    5) Regarding the last 10 books/authors I "know" - I'd say I've chosen the last ten based on online presence, either by the authors themselves, or someone talking about them. Not necessarily seeing them, specifically.

    6) Hmm... regarding marketing, I think more interactive things would be nice. Take TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY for example. The inside flap map, and so on. Even though I didn't check out Mr. Asher's site until I'd already read the book (in order to not ruin anything for me), I still thought it was cool that you could actually listen to cassettes, amongst other things. Those are the sort of features that hook me, make me keep thinking about it, talking about it.

    Okay I know I didn't answer all of the questions, but there you go;)

    Jessica

    7)

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  2. Haha. How'd that seven get up there?

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  3. I'm a librarian and a writer, and I'm on my library's Mock Printz committee, so that leads to a sort of two-tiered process of book selection. I pay attention to the trade reviews, especially starred reviews, and request books based on that, often out of a feeling that I "should" have read them. I don't watch book trailers, but the amount of time I spend around blogs and trade reviews and librarians and bookstores keeps me aware of most of the new YA books.

    I know a bunch of authors online, and I will say that influences my purchasing decisions -- if there's a book I want to read, then knowing an author will often enough lead to me feeling like she deserves my financial support rather than just my getting the book from the library.

    However, I live in a tiny studio apartment, and that means I very rarely buy new books. I buy new books when I pick up a book off the New Books display and read the first paragraph or three pages and the book tells me that it's going home with me. The narration tells me that I'm in good hands. That is the one and only for-sure thing that will sell me on a book.

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  4. 1. i buy for myself now, but for years i was buying to have titles available for when my kids were old enough to read them. i am also the designated book buyer for birthday presents.

    2. i pick up what intrigues me, is that vague enough? it could be a blog review, the NYT, or a tweet that sends me researching a title. there's no one source that trumps all.

    3. i NEVER pay attention to user reviews or stars on amazon (and i've stopped leaving my own reviews there as well).

    4. i watch book trailers with great frustration. they're too long, too static, and need to be more inventive. writers are expected to sell a story with an elevator pitch, and yet most trailers feel like being trapped in an elevator. if you're selling a book to kids, and you can't run a book trailer on MTV w/o looking stodgy and unhip, then don't make the trailer. IMO. the one exception was ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER though it was a smidge too long. that's how to sell a vampire book.

    5. never clicked a banner ad for anything, ever.

    6. blurbs, as in jacket flaps, or in magazines? in most cases i look to blurbs to give me a sense of the story and its quality. on the issue of jacket flaps, they should be a natural continuation of the cover. if there's a disconnect between the cover and the blurb inside then generally something is wrong.

    7. awards don't influence my decision to buy a book, but i think they have their place.

    8. lists are helpful, but not a deciding factor.

    9. 3/10.

    10. there's an odd line between buzz and genuine enthusiasm, and when a book generates a lot of attention i tend to get more skeptical and hold of until the buzz dies and i can read the book w/o undue influence. for me, if i end up not liking a book everyone else says is great i feel both like there's something wrong with me or something wrong with everyone else, or both. this is actually quite a complicated thing for me that comes from childhood and being shamed by teachers for not agreeing with them over "great" books. this killed my enjoyment of reading for most of my MG years. TMI?

    11. the thing that has the most influence on me as a reader is an irresistible premise and an accessible voice. i need a sense of that from everything - the cover, the jacket copy, the buzz.

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  5. as for what publishing can do in terms of marketing books...

    on any given day in an american middle or high school you're sure to hear kids talk about movies, TV shows, music, or video games, but not books. consumer discretionary funds are as limited as a marketing budget and that money is going to go where there is the most buzz. a highly anticipated new movie comes out, that's where the money goes. same with "big" books like HARRY POTTER and HUNGER GAMES.

    but the issue isn't in publishers trying to find the next big buzz-worthy book, it's in changing the dialog so that books are part of the conversation consumers are having. the best book in the world doesn't have a chance if it cannot muscle its way into the conversation. and the only conversation people are having about books right now is how long it will be before books are dead and amazon controls publishing, and kids hear that and think "books are dead."

    publishing needs to change the conversation.

    more than anything else right now -- second to time spent in school -- kids spend most of their time on computers, on smart phones, on social networks, chatting online and sharing links and videos. it isn't enough to get your product in front of them with banner ads or book trailers, you have to make them want to interact *with* the product you're trying to sell. if you're going to make a video, you want them to make it go viral. you want them to forward images of your books, and so covers and related marketing has to be "post-worthy" in terms of uniqueness.

    if you really want them to pay attention, get testimonials from people OUTSIDE of publishing. a book rec (and 20 second video) by tina fey will do more for a book than any award, book trailer, blurb, and testimonial from another author combined. if the cause were for literacy, and they were genuine about liking a book (many celebs have kids) how many would be willing to waive fees?

    if you're going to put any money into a book trailer i would think your models should be something like the e*trade babies or the recent old spice guy. no one would think of stock trading or deodorant as being humorous, but funny commercials don't detract from people taking the product seriously, and the viral advertising made them topics of conversations. another point toward driving the conversation: get people to talk about the books even before they've read them.

    wow, this is getting long -- i feel like i should have posted it on my own blog! anyway, i hope this helps.

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  6. 1. Mostly for me.

    2. Some reviews matter. I will sometimes buy books based on blog reviews, or reviews in Booklist or PW. Amazon reviews I only use if I've heard of a book, am already thinking of buying it, and need a reason to or not to.

    3. I like book trailers, but I don't use them to decide what to buy. More often, I find myself watching trailers for books I've already read to see how it translated.

    4. I have bought books based on blurbs, but it has to be from an author I really love.

    5. I do sometimes buy books out of loyalty to an author, whether or not I've had any interaction with them.

    6. I've never used a banner ad.

    7. As far as buzz goes, it will make me buy a book if I'm interested in the subject and everyone I know is reading (and talking about) it, or if it is big among kids or teens, since I am a librarian and I want to keep up with those books.

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  7. I buy a lot of books, and I mostly buy them for myself or to donate to the underfunded library at my children's school.

    Most books I buy are books that I've initially heard about on the Internet -- through book blogs or recommendations by other authors. I do not pay attention to Amazon stars or Goodreads, but I do look at reviews from Kirkus, Horn Book and the like. Many of the books I buy are from authors I know either personally or through their online presence, although I always love learning about a wonderful book from an author I've never encountered before.

    I have fairly specific preferences for books, so even if a book gets a heavy online buzz, I won't buy it unless I truly think I'll like it. I also look at publishers' catalogs when I can and always find amazing things there.

    I almost always get books from the public library first and then buy a copy if I love it or if I want to support the author. I do buy certain books sight unseen if there's something so compelling about the concept that I have to have it or if I'm a fan of the author's other works.

    I like book trailers, but I don't watch them regularly.

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  8. 1. I buy them for myself, but I am always looking for things to recommend to my husband's middle school students.

    2. This is how I find books most of the time, specifically from book blogs. I read so many that it would take a while to list, but some include GreenBeanTeenQueen, The Zen Leaf, S Krishna, and about 75 others. I do not pay attention to Amazon reviews because I do not really trust who is posting them (ex. authors friends, competitions friends etc).

    3. I do not watch book trailers because I think they are a waste. I want to read about a book, not watch something.

    4. No, I tend to have programs installed so I don't see any ads because they bug me.

    5. To some extent, blurbs matter. If one of my favorite authors has a blurb, I am much more likely to buy it.

    6. Certain awards matter. I will be more likely to buy something that won the Printz award or made the short list.

    7. None. I tend to not have relationships with authors, but I do follow some on twitter and am more likely to buy their books.

    7. It is more about the right person saying it. I know who I tend to agree with, so I know if they liked it, I probably will too so I buy it.

    8. Blog reviews

    9. As far as marketing, reach out to English teachers. I know my husband pays attention to what his students are reading an talks to them about it. Since he does that, they ask him for recommendations, which is when he usually turns to me.

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  9. Good question! I read and listen to several books a week, so I only buy books if

    1) my library system doesn't have them
    2) there are more than five or six holds
    3) I'd like to write margin notes and/or highlight the text
    4) the book is too long to read in three weeks
    5) the book is cheap and second-hand (library book sales, online sellers)
    6) the book is a gift.

    I'm sorry -- this probably isn't good news to folks in the publishing industry.

    I don't click through banner ads, and blurbs don't matter. Neither do covers. (I generally know which books I want to read before I see them.)

    Awards and reviews definitely count. I also look for recommendations from bloggers and critics. If there's a buzz in the blogosphere, I'm likely to put a book on my to-read list. Generally speaking, one source isn't enough. I'm a little leery of Amazon.com and Goodreads reviews, but I will notice whether there is a high volume of stars/reviews.

    I don't know any authors personally, although I've purchased books by several authors whose blogs I read (ex. Laurie Halse Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Libba Bray). I bought a Neil Gaiman book for my nieces after he posted the trailer on his blog. Generally speaking, though, I don't watch trailers.

    I hope these answers are helpful. Looking forward to reading other responses!

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  10. I buy books for my boys, my husband, myself, my sister, and my mother, in about that order.

    For the boys, I buy what they want. For the rest, I buy books we will want to keep and re-read.

    Reviews matter a bit in buying books for the boys and for me, in that it through reading blog reveiws, and things like Publishers Weekly that I know the books exist. But, viz blog reviews, since I only glance at reveiws of books I haven't read, the reviewer's opinion doesn't always matter. Unless it is a ravingly postive reveiw from someone whose taste is similar to mine.

    Awards and lists matter a bit--I'll add books to my tbr list. But I'w won't rush out and buy them. Unless it's Newbery annoucement day, and I'm hoping to score a first ed. with no sticker.

    I can't be bothered to watch trailers. Don't click on banner ads. Distrust stars.

    Viz blurbs: I do lists of new releases of fantasy and science fiction a couple of times every month that include blurbs (I get really cross at publishers who make it hard to find blurbs for their books). And I add lots of books to my own list based on these blurbs...

    Online presence hasn't been a factor in the last ten books I've bought for myself (although 3 were at meet the author venues). But it's a bit of a twisty question, because I am much more aware of the online presence of authors whose books I love. So I read Sarah Rees Brennon's blog, and Laini Taylor's blog, and buy their books- but this isn't cause/effect.

    I dunno anything about marketing. But it seems like there should be ways to get word to author fan communities about new books similar to their author's books. I don't particularly want Sounis, for example, clutered up with marketing from the publishers, and I don't want to get advertizing emails through the Patricia McKillip list, but there must be some way that a pulisher can do it without being spamish. For instance, City in the Lake, by Rachel Neumier, is a book with vast appeal to Patricia McKillip fans. Word of the book trickled into that community, but not perhaps as strongly and in as timely a fashion as the book deserved. Maybe publishers could push on their own pages to stress which other beloved authors the books would appeal to in a way that would trigger the book's release being picked up by the fan community??????

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  11. I just discovered the "Unshelved" reviews this past year, and a lot of my new reading has come from there.

    Given that many of the authors reviewed there have written several books, that can keep me occupied for quite a while.

    Beyond that, it's almost serendipity. I pick up something I've never heard of at the library, check out the cover copy and the first few pages, and off I go on a new author.

    Of course I will always be in the market for new books by my favorite authors, but they don't generate books as fast as I would like. Now that I've read "I Shall Wear Midnight," I have to wait up to a year for the next Terry Pratchett book.

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  12. I think the best way to get me to buy a book is to let me read a little bit of it. I love that option on Amazon, getting to peek into the book for a few pages. If the writing strikes me, I'll buy.

    Blurbs by other authors I love will get me to pick up a book, but not buy it.

    Blogs will also pique my interest, specifically Forever Young Adult because their opinions tend to match mine so it would follow that their book recommendations would be right on.

    Awards make me remember a book's title, which will then lead me to pick it up in the book store.

    I never click through on banner ads for anything, and I don't tend to watch book trailers because most of the ones I have seen are not that great.

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  13. I'm an avid reader, a compulsive book buyer, a children's book author, and a kidlit blogger (at Book Aunt).

    1. I sometimes buy books based on blog reviews by bloggers whose opinions I respect, most recently Bink & Gollie based on Betsy Bird's review (and she was right!). I usually run across book trailers simply because they're linked to blog reviews.

    2. I keep track of my favorite authors and buy their books almost without hesitation, though I've noticed that later books in series are sometimes weak regardless of the writer.

    3. When cruising the bookstore, I pick up books based on the title and/or cover art.

    4. Next I read the jacket blurb.

    5. If I'm still interested, I flip to the first page and/or the middle of the book and read a few paragraphs to see if the style's any good (or so bad it will drive me nuts). If I see cliched dialogue and plot turns at a glance, I put the book down despite my interest in the premise.

    6. I find I'm getting a lot pickier these days! There are just SO many books, and only a few are superb.

    7. I sometimes link through a series of Recommended Books or Listmania lists on Amazon, then read selected book blurbs and reviews. I take the professional reviews much more seriously than the customer reviews, but use the latter to get an overall feel for the book.

    8. I do use Amazon as a reference guide whenever I want to know more about a particular book. If I'm really intrigued, I may visit the author's website or blog, or I'll just google to find blog reviews.

    9. I take The Horn Book and Guide, and I mark those up and use them to inspire additional selections.

    10. Because 10 is a good number for lists! So--I also occasionally buy the books of authors who are my friends mostly because they're my friends.

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  14. One of the biggest actions to make me buy more books is for me to move to a place with a microscopic library. :P

    Um, but seriously. I buy books for myself based on books I read about at Verla Kay's or author's blogs (so, fellow writers), books I read about in The Book Page or the Indie newsletter (that some stores put out for kids' books and some don't--I might add that I only buy kids' books). Also books that I've checked out far too many times from the library and just need to own so someone else has a shot at them. Books by authors I already know I love. And books I read about right here. Which means perhaps I'm not the typical book buyer--but I think the same general principles apply to anyone, ie word of mouth is a biggie. I buy books that will stand up to more than one read. I buy books that come with flap copy. (I know that seems obvious--but there is a publisher that doesn't put flap copy on their children's books, and sorry, I'm not buying something if I can't even tell what it's about!) Sometimes I'll go on Goodreads if I'm interested in a book and read both the high and low comments. Not because I think those are serious or real reviews--but because I can generally tell from that what kind of reader response I might have to a book. (And sometimes it's because the things that one reader hates are things I know I'll love--so the negative reviews sell me books, too.) I don't see Goodreads mentioning many kid books in their newsletter, so I don't usually even read that when it comes.

    My kids, on the other hand, also have wish lists. The middle schoolers will look up book release dates on line, are into series they may discover at the library and want to continue in their own collections, hear about from other kids, and find in Scholastic book orders and book fairs. For books they haven't heard of yet, yes, book orders are a biggie. The younger (elementary school) ones get interested almost exclusively through book orders and lurid, estrogen-overdose-level covers. (Sorry!)

    The very biggest thing that makes me buy a book, though, is that it's well written and original and where stuff happens and where there's enough depth for it to get lodged inside me when I'm done. So the biggest thing a publisher can do for me is simply publish good books. Um, but you already knew that. :)

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  15. 1. I buy books for both myself and the children in my life.

    2. I read book reviews but they don't influence my decision.

    3. I will watch a book trailer if it happens to be available, but I don't seek them out.

    4. I don't click through banner ads.

    5. Blurbs don't matter to me.

    6. Awards don't matter to me either.

    7. None.

    8. The best way for me to answer that is to share experiences. Storytime! I avoided HP for three books because I usually avoid buzz and hype. Despite the fact that I LOVE wizards. Then I saw a huge display in a small bookstore that included a leather-bound collector's edition of book one. I thought "Good grief, let me see what all this is about." So I purchased a paperback copy of book one thinking if it's just hype, I haven't lost much. By page two, I was a fan.

    Fast forward to 2009 and I am confronted with Twilight. I didn't have an interest in reading the books at all even though I LOVE Vampires. Then the madness began. But it wasn't the Twi-hards that made me pick up the series, it was the people that hated it so much. I had to see what the big deal was about. So I did. And I still don't see why its got everyone so upset...

    My love of dragons still hasn't gotten me to read Eragon.

    And I hope that answers the question. LOL

    9. N/A

    10. I'm not sure how to answer this one. I know that when I was a kid, I used to live for the Scholastic Book Fair. I do remember wishing that some of the authors of the books could make an appearance at my school or local library.

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  16. 1. Usually I buy for for myself.

    2. I rarely read reviews unless they are on the jacket cover. Sometimes I'll have read the reviews of a few YA book blogs, but not often. The only time I pay attention to user stars on Amazon is when it's a non fiction book that I need for my research. Otherwise, not usually.

    3. No. I think trailers would ruin the book for me.

    4. I think I've clicked a banner ad once or twice. Not often enough to actually matter.

    5. I'll read blurbs, especially if it's an author I know, but I generally don't pay much attention to them.

    6. Awards don't really matter. They rarely indicate whether I'm going to like the book. In fact, I've found that most of the time, I don't really like a lot of the books that win awards. But that's more personal taste than whether they are actually good.

    7. I've never actually had contact with any of the authors I read. I just like their writing style. Though I do read a few author blogs, I've never actually talked to an author of one of the books I read. I'm sometimes worried that if I did talk to them it would make me like them less. But that's just silliness on my part.

    8. I see the popular books, but I usually wait quite a while to read them. Something about them has to grab me, no matter what everyone else is saying. Even if it's the most popular book in the world, I'm not gonna read it unless I am curious about it in the least, and really want to read it at the most.

    9. I don't really think any of the above factors influence me too much. I'm usually drawn to books I stumble across on the shelves. Not because I've heard of them or know the authors, though knowing an author and liking their writing is a factor.

    10. I don't really know. Maybe for some people, but for me, I find most of my books by searching through the shelves. Put more great books out there and that would make me happy. But I'm pretty sure I'm a unique case.

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  17. Wow. Awesome discussion, Rose

    I used to buy books for myself - mostly learning (non-fiction), just for fun. Then I bought books for our kids, and my students. Mostly lately, I buy books written by my friends, or learning more about the craft of writing (learning, again; will it ever stop? I hope not).

    -- Sandy

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  18. I buy award winners and books that have had buzz just to see what all the fuss is about! And, of course, all the books that are edited by really great editors who I work with/hope to work with/am working with/etc.

    I was watching TV the other day with commercials (which is rare, usually if I watch at all, I Tivo so I can fast forward through the ads) and there was an ad for a book. Both my husband and I commented that it must be something pretty special (neither of us had heard of it) for a publisher to pay that much for a commercial. So I looked it up and actually ordered it, but more because I'm interested to see what the publisher deemed worthy of such a big and unusual (I think) expense. I'm always curious about marketing and what works and what doesn't and what the differentiator is between a book that does get mainstream reviews and one that doesn't. Doing something different, in this case a TV spot, made me check it out.

    (I had this idea once for a marketing campaign using billboards with just questions on them, "Who is (character's name)?", etc. set up near schools in major cities. Vague questions that were slightly mysterious or leading. And then after a couple of weeks, to have the question peeled off and the cover of the book underneath. Not because billboards are revolutionary but because an ad campaign that is simply just DIFFERENT can arouse curiosity.)

    Maybe my perspective is skewed though because, as a writer, I am curious about what is going on in my own field. A lot of what I buy is to see what friends/colleagues/acquaintances are writing (and of course to support them) and because there is something really magical about reading a book written by someone you "know" (even if it's just on Twitter) -- it's like having a friend tell you a story. Similarly, if someone I know or a writer I love blurbs a book, I'll be more likely to pick up that book.

    I get books based on Goodreads recs, too, but COMPLETELY IGNORE Goodreads when people say unflattering things about my own stuff. Heh. Selective use of Goodreads is recommended.

    I watch book trailers because I think they're fun, creative ways for authors to promote their own stories and I love how different they are and how surprising, sometimes. But I don't think they affect my likelihood to buy or not buy a book. They DO provide an easy-to-pass-on format for spreading the word about a book though that I think should be/could be a successful way of promoting YA particularly. The music video-esque quality about them is pretty appealing.

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  19. I buy award winners and books that have had buzz just to see what all the fuss is about! And, of course, all the books that are edited by really great editors who I work with/hope to work with/am working with/etc.

    I was watching TV the other day with commercials (which is rare, usually if I watch at all, I Tivo so I can fast forward through the ads) and there was an ad for a book. Both my husband and I commented that it must be something pretty special (neither of us had heard of it) for a publisher to pay that much for a commercial. So I looked it up and actually ordered it, but more because I'm interested to see what the publisher deemed worthy of such a big and unusual (I think) expense. I'm always curious about marketing and what works and what doesn't and what the differentiator is between a book that does get mainstream reviews and one that doesn't. Doing something different, in this case a TV spot, made me check it out.

    (I had this idea once for a marketing campaign using billboards with just questions on them, "Who is (character's name)?", etc. set up near schools in major cities. Vague questions that were slightly mysterious or leading. And then after a couple of weeks, to have the question peeled off and the cover of the book underneath. Not because billboards are revolutionary but because an ad campaign that is simply just DIFFERENT can arouse curiosity.)

    Maybe my perspective is skewed though because, as a writer, I am curious about what is going on in my own field. A lot of what I buy is to see what friends/colleagues/acquaintances are writing (and of course to support them) and because there is something really magical about reading a book written by someone you "know" (even if it's just on Twitter) -- it's like having a friend tell you a story. Similarly, if someone I know or a writer I love blurbs a book, I'll be more likely to pick up that book.

    I get books based on Goodreads recs, too, but COMPLETELY IGNORE Goodreads when people say unflattering things about my own stuff. Heh. Selective use of Goodreads is recommended.

    I watch book trailers because I think they're fun, creative ways for authors to promote their own stories and I love how different they are and how surprising, sometimes. But I don't think they affect my likelihood to buy or not buy a book. They DO provide an easy-to-pass-on format for spreading the word about a book though that I think should be/could be a successful way of promoting YA particularly. The music video-esque quality about them is pretty appealing.

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  20. I buy lots of books for my kids. One of the most common ways I find a new book to buy is through the library. We check out tons of books every week, and I usually clear the new arrivals shelf when we go. I keep a little running list of the books we really like and that the kids ask for again. Then, when birthdays and Christmas come round, I get them. Book fairs and online recommendations or connections with an author (through Blueboards and conferences) also make me look twice at a new book.

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  21. I can't think of the last time I bought a book for my children without first reading it myself--so I guess I buy books for me and share the good ones with them!

    I pay attention to reviews in the NYTimes book review, on NPR, and through the blogs "Bookshelves of Doom", "Books Together", "Fuse #8", and "Whatever". When I want more inspiration than their reviews provide, I usually go to these blogs and look at what other blogs the authors are reading and sample a bit. I don't trust the Amazon star system since I've heard too many tales of abuse.

    Once in a while I'll look at a book trailer, mostly because I'm interested in the marketing angle, not to help me decide whether or not to read a book. I can see wanting my kids to watch a book trailer for a book that I think they'll like that they haven't picked up yet; they are great readers but so much more visual that I was at their ages and I think the trailer would appeal to them.

    No go on banner ads.

    I notice who wrote the blurb first--if I'm in the book store and scanning around for something new, a recommendation from an author that I already like will weigh in a potential book's favor.

    Awards will encourage me to read something that I might have missed--I pay attention to the short lists, not just the winners.

    About 2 of the last 10 books I bought were influenced by the author's on-line presence, usually their blog. They don't know me, but I feel like I have a small connection to them.

    My kids are still a little young for Facebook, but I bet once they are on it, that would be a great way to reach them--links to trailers, reviews, author website, etc.

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  22. I buy books for myself, the bulk of which are YA, but in the back of mind is the knowledge that my own YAs (12 years old and 9 years old) will snatch everything from my shelves.

    I buy about 50% authors I know and 50% what "sounds good." What sounds good comes from what I call the broken record break down. I've seen twitter buzz, I've seen book blog buzz, I've seen Goodreads reviews, and I've perused the Amazon reviews (Looking for starred reviews especially). If I keep seeing a certain title, it "wears me down."

    I try to buy the Newbery and Printz winners yearly. And the honor books.

    More than author loyalty, I actually find that I have publisher loyalty. It started by my accidental realization that I was buying books from the same houses over and over (Arthur A. Levine is in my top three). I'm guessing most people don't pay as close attention to this as I do.

    Blurbs and book trailers don't matter to me at all.

    Marketing is a strange beast these days as more people are turning to the masses (blogs, twitter, user reviews, etc.) instead of the experts. Besides Roger Ebert, I can't think of any experts or critics I turn to for recommendations (and that's not even for books). I can't even name any experts or book critics (people not publications). And I consider myself fairly well-educated in the world of kids books. So, I guess I'd say that spreading a wide marketing net is better than dangling a well baited hook.

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  23. 1. Myself, my 11 year old daughter (she reads YA), very occasionally by 15 yr old son (Percy Jackson nut)
    2. I don't often base it on a review, but rather based on author rep, or recommendation. I may scan a book store or amazon and then check out the "stars" on user reviews. Also - and this is big since I'm active on the site, I check the average rating on goodreads.com as well as user reviews.

    3. Book trailers - nope. Banners - nope. I don't pay much attention to banner ads for books.

    4. Blurbs - if you mean a sample, it may cement my notion to buy the book or grab it from the library.

    5. I might read an award winner I wouldn't ordinarily pick up, but to be honest, the books that people tend to reward with high marks wind up covering the award winners. Lists - only if I'm searching for something to read.

    6. Substantive - no. Sure I chatted with James Dashner on #YALITCHAT, but that was after I read Maze Runner.

    7. Early on if the buzz is strong.

    8. Author loyalty is #1

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  24. When looking for a new book to read I first check the New York Times best seller list. I read reviews and then head to the book store. I'm one of the types that loves the feel of books, so I'm not into electronic readers yet. Anyway, once at the book store I read jacket flaps, look at covers, and always, read the first paragraph.

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  25. A few things:

    1) price
    2) length
    3) word of mouth

    First, I think, compared to other forms of entertainment, books cost too much. I can stream Netflix for less than $10 a month and watch as much content as I want. So I like to buy cheap books, so I mainly buy used.

    Second, because I work and I like to write, I like small books that I can read at lunch at work. My preference is less than 200 pages since I can read about 30 pages on my lunch breaks.

    Finally, if someone recommends me a book, I'll write it down and check it out. But I usually won't buy it until after it has hit my used book store or until after the softcover or mass market paperback has come out. For example, I was recommend Mr. Peanut, but I don't want to spend $17 on this book.

    Right, now, I'm reading down the CWA list:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Top_100_Crime_Novels_of_All_Time

    since I want to write a novel that would be classified as crime fiction next year. But if I receive a good recommendation, I'll deviate from the list. I might read Hunger Games next month.

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  26. I do many of the same things as the other commenters. One thing I really like to do is read the ratings/comments on Amazon, keeping in mind that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I try to read the book FIRST because there are so many spoilers in the comments, but there are so many tidbits in the comments about what works for people and what doesn't. It's a gold mine. I read the Mockingjay reviews with keen interest because I had such a strong reaction to that book myself. I also love the ability to browse books on Amazon and read exerpts; I actually live in a county with no bookstores so it's hard for me to patronize real stores regularly.

    I will occasionally click on book ads on Shelf Awareness. I don't like book trailers; they seem cheesy to me.

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  27. -I buy books both for the kids in my life (PBs, MG) and for me (PBs up through YA).
    -I read user reviews on Amazon, both good and bad, mostly to glean info on content and not to glean info on opinions of content.
    -I never watch book trailers; I watch award-nominated TV and movies.
    -I never click through banner ads; I don't even look at banner ads.
    -Blurbs matter a little.
    -Awards matter a lot.
    -Of the last ten books I've bought, I've "known" 3 of the authors.
    -I pay attention to buzz once it's absolutely everywhere (Twilight, Paranormalcy) or once the right person says it (Going Bovine). But buzz only goes far enough to get me to pick up the book - once I'm holding it, it's up to the words on the page. If they don't grab me, I put the book back down.

    As far as what you could be doing to market books better, I have no idea. The world feels pretty inundated as it is with ads, banners, posters, etc. I don't want more.

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  28. 1. As a writer, parent and former children's librarian, I read picture books to YA. I read for myself for pleasure and as research -what is selling, voice, etc. I also always read with thoughts of who I could recommend a book to. Once a librarian...
    I have to admit that I use my public library A Lot. I only buy books now that I really need to have, usually ones I have read and want to read again or know my children (teens) will love. I do buy books as gifts and purchase books of authors I know in support. That said, I am also picky about what I order through my library.
    2. I pay attention to reviws, blogs, librarian sites and the recommendations of students, other writers and book-loving friends.
    I pay no attention to Amazon ratings, banner ads or trailers except to get a sense of who the book is being marketed to and how much $$ is behind a book.
    3. I subscribe to PW, Shelftalker and am on a Library List-serve. I don't have time for more. Usually I make a list of books I'm interested in and then, when it gets low, or I'm really avoiding writing, I spend time trolling writer's and agent's blogs. Then I add new titles to my list and order them through my library or look for them at my local bookstore. I also trust their recommendations.
    3. I have very bad habits for choosing books, but, from my experience they are actually pretty close to how children choose a book. Title, cover, and flap copy have to be interesting. Then I read a bit of the beginning - maybe two pages. If I like the voice, the language, characters and premise, I flip to the end. Yes,true confession. If the ending is intriguing, then I might try the book. I do this in under 3 minutes per book, sort of like speed dating.
    3. I do go out of my way to check out award winning books, if only to have a sense of what the standards are since I don't always agree with them. I also like to check each state's Children's Choice awards - what kids like vs. adults. I pay attention to lists.
    4. Loved the idea of getting young celebrities to help market books. I'm sure the right person with book recommendations could have the "Oprah Book Club" for YA. A new incarnation of Reading Rainbow on YouTube? Kids talk books up among themselves. I was always impressed with this underground buzz. That's what you have to connect to. I use the library, but my kids want to buy their books. Good luck!

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  29. These may not be in the right order, but I love these questions. Thanks for asking them:

    1) I buy for myself and my kids. Plus, every kid who invites my kid to their b-day party gets a book.

    2) Reviews are HUGE. I find them via blogs.

    3) Book trailers: Seen a few but never bought a book as a result. Found via blogs (older people read blogs; do kids? Mine don't).

    4) Blurbs don't matter.

    5) I've known three of the authors. Niceness on the internet also counts as a reason I've bought books.

    6) Amazon: I do read the reviews; the sample first pages matter more. I read those too.

    7) Awards MATTER. I read the Pulitzer every year; I read the Printz, Newberry, etc.

    8) Buzz affects my choices some. If everyone is talking about a book, I'm curious. But, more often it's because a writer/reviewer I trust raves about it.

    9) For kids, it's all word of mouth and what everybody else is reading. At least at my kids' school, it's that way. Bone was huge, then Calvin and Hobbes, then Riordan's books. I brought in a local author for our Scholastic book fair, and then it was all about her book, so I think author visits are good if the writer is actually good w/kids in person. This one was.

    10) Teachers choose the books for their classroom libraries. Market to the teachers perhaps? And also the parents. Statistically parents are on Facebook. Maybe start a recommended reads for kids page?

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  30. I buy books for myself (MG-adult), but with the thought in mind that my MG sister will most likely want to read it and that one day my grade school brother will like reading and want to read it.

    I don't click on banner ads, but I occasionally watch book trailers.

    An internet presence is huge. I don't even if have to have ever 'talked' to the author on a blog/Twitter, etc. but if they have an Internet presence that is funny or thoughtful,etc. than odds are good I will want to buy their book.

    I don't pay attention to award-winning books or lists. I do pay attention to book reviews, epseically if they are reviews of lesser-known books. And reviews from people I have developed trust in when it comes to books I will like.

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  31. I'm with Emily. I look at the jacket flap blurb and then I read the first page. (Which is why I often blog first lines from books.) I am incurable bookaholic. If I love an author I will read everything they wrote and stand in line to buy the new one. I do a lot of borrowing from libraries and a good deal of second hand shopping.

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  32. I buy about half for myself, half for godchildren/friends' children (although there are more and more kids to buy for every year). Basically, I'm looking for something with lasting value. For me, is it an author I trust or a series I'm hooked on? Is it a favorite I'll want to reread? I have to force myself to buy things that I'm not already sure I love - but I am willing to buy books I've already read (most of my reading is library books, not a surprise considering that's where I work).

    For kids, I want to find something that both suits their current age/interests, but it also something that will last them a while. Since I get to see a lot of new titles at work, I go shopping with a sense of what I want. A new picture book that feels classic (like All the World) or a board book that's appropriate for a one year old, but that she'll also enjoy for a few years.

    For a favorite author, I'll glance at reviews. With picture books, I only buy books I've already seen (I wouldn't buy one online without having read it already). The reviews I've read are in the back of my mind, but I'd rather rely on my own opinion when gift-giving. There are bloggers whose opinions I completely trust, and having several of them recommend the same title might make me willing to pick it up (but I'm more likely to check it out of the library).

    Ads - I glaze over. Trailers - I've watched a handful but more out of curiosity to see how they're put together than to learn anything about the book. User reviews - I might glance through reviews at Goodreads to get a sense of a book before I read it, but I wouldn't use them when purchasing.

    Awards lists - I like them for making sure I haven't missed any good books to order for the library, or I might browse an awards shelf at a bookstore if I'm stumped for what to give as a gift. But they mostly factor into my collection development and not my personal buying.

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  33. I pretty well split my book buying between my kids and myself. The kids are just getting into reading. I, myself, am a reader—not a voracious reader, say about a book a week.

    I rarely pick up a book because of a review and when I do it is usually a book for me (believe it or not I have read several authors who have appeared on The Daily Show, also NPR's a source for me).

    Amazon reviews mean very little to me since I often don't agree with the reviews for one reason or another.

    I cannot say if I have ever seen a book trailer.

    Ditto banner ads.

    Sometimes awards matter. Pulitzer, Man Booker will make me stop and look. Lists—less so.

    Author's I've known that I've purchased recently—one.

    As for places to reach kids, I would try educational TV programing. Placement ads in Fetch, NatGeoWild or DicoveryKids or even coming up with a segment that highlights books for kids of different ages/reading ability. Cross promoting with educational game consoles like Leapster might help as well.

    Just my two cents and late to boot.

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  34. There are many strategies that will get me to read a book, but very few that will get me to buy it. A book being available at the library is the biggest draw for me. After that, the only consideration is whether I would re-read it or not (which is a surprisingly hard test to pass, I've found). Nothing besides the book itself really seems to influence that test. The last book I bought was Catching Fire, because it was the only one of the three books in THG I wanted to re-read once I finished, but I felt no particular compulsion to complete the set or anything.

    Regarding foot-in-the-door strategies:
    Book trailers are a turnoff for me. They never seem to actually tell me anything about the book that I couldn't figure out from the cover. If they were structured like movie teaser trailers I'd be more interested-- I saw the trailer for The Maze Runner by James Dashner and that got me interested in the book, for instance. But on the whole, trailers and such don't really catch me.

    Author blogs, especially with background about the book itself and sample chapters, are the biggest draw, but it really all comes down to the book itself and if I'd re-read it.

    I don't pay much attention to Goodreads/Amazon reviews, banner ads. I would buy an older (pre-2000) book on a list as a gift for someone else, but I wouldn't buy a book on a list for myself unless (again) I wanted to re-read it.

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