Sunday, November 13, 2011

Decisions: Page Twelve

In a brick-and-mortar store, how do you decide whether or not you're going to buy a book? Do you check the back cover? Read the inside flap? Glance over the first few pages?

Growing up, I became accustomed to my sister's method. She'd take in the cover with an accessing eye, then dive straight in at page twelve. Why page twelve, you ask? She said it was far enough in that you'd get the gist and writing style, but not so far that you'd spoil any of the story.

You know the funny thing? When I sent her my MS to read, I gave page twelve a little extra attention. ;)

So, how do you gauge whether or not you're going to buy a book? Which part do you skim/read?

Have a great week, guys!

P.S. Why yes. The closest book to my phone was The Darkest Secret by Gena Showalter. Of course it had to be the one with a "bad word" near the corner. *grins*

29 comments:

Cassie Mae said...

That's an interesting idea...I think I'm going to have to try that! (And look at my own page 12 ;) )

I don't get to buy a lot of books, but I am a frequent visitor to the library and I always look at genre, author, book title, back of the book, if it's in a series...but I pretty much read everything!

Lynda R Young said...

I used to buy a book on the cover alone. I never read the back cover. Ever. I have no idea why.
Now that I mostly buy ebook versions, I'm a tad more discerning. I'll read the sample chapters first before I buy.

Peggy Eddleman said...

That's a GREAT way! I hadn't ever thought of that. I look at front cover, back cover, jacket flaps, then first line. Sometimes if the first line really grabs me, then first paragraph, too. Possibly first page. Then back to the cover, because I really love me a good cover. :)

Giles Hash said...

I try to read the first chapter or two in the store. I made the mistake of reading just the first few pages of a book once and was sorely disappointed in it when I got to the end of chapter one. Unfortunately, my wife bought me books one and two in the set for my birthday. I read both books, but I never would have asked for them if I'd taken to time to get to the "weak" points in the writing.

Jennifer Hillier said...

Cool, I will have to try the Page Twelve method! Usually I buy books based on the blurb, and author recognition (or word of mouth if the author is new). If I'm downloading to my Kindle, I always read the sample chapters first since they're free.

cleemckenzie said...

That's funny! I wish editors and agents used that technique. I wouldn't be killing myself on those opening pages. :-)

I guess I'm more traditional. I read the jacket flap, then I read the opening pages. However, next time, I think I might flip to page 12!

Mina Burrows said...

Page 12, huh? Cool. I like it. I usually just gravitate towards my taste and give books a try. Whether I'm in a store or online, I'll read the book flap and then pull up the book on goodreads or amazon and see what the reviews say. Then, I make the decision to buy.

Joylene said...

I do all of the above. The blurb is important. Word of mouth adds a decisive impact. The first paragraph cinches the deal.

Good post, as always. It's why I keep coming back, you get me remembering why I do this writing thing.

Lisa L. Regan said...

I'm going to try the page 12 thing. I read the blurb and then I read the first page or 2, usually just the first page. You'd be surprised how many books can bore you to tears in the first 2 paragraphs! LOL. Published books, that is!!! Now that I buy ebooks I still do the same--especially since Amazon has the look inside feature. But I also do glance at the reviews as well.

Iain said...

I usually read the blurb, and ask friends. At the moment, a friend of mine has become my book pimp. He's a voracious reader, and keeps pushing books he's finished at me to read.

Laila Knight said...

The cover catches my eye. Usually the hotter the cover the more I like it. :) Then I read the blurb. I try not to open the book or I might ruin the story for myself. I have a friend who reads the ending first.

I started critiquing now after the long week. I still love your story. :)

Lydia Kang said...

First, internet buzz usually makes a book catch my eye. In the store, the cover will first do it. Then I read the back jacket blurb, then the first paragraph. Then I put it down. If I still want it, I'll be thinking about it for the rest of my bookstore trip. Then I buy it!

Carrie Butler said...

@Cassie Mae - Thank you! Hey, you never know. People might start judging solely on page twelve after this. *grins* I love the library, too. (And the anti-bacterial I take with me.) It never hurts to look at everything!

@Lynda - You must be a visual person. :) You know... I think I read more e-book sample pages, than I do when "sampling" pages of a print copy. I wonder why that is...

@Pegasus - I think we all have subconscious tests for the book to pass. (Like yours, first line -> first paragraph -> first page.) I love hearing about everyone's inspection methods!

@Giles - Ugh. Don't you hate that? It's always a disappointment when you think you're going to love something, and it just falls flat. Great to hear from you! :)

@Jennifer - The blurb + author recogition (or WoM) is a powerful combination! It's like the marriage of information and trust. Oh yes, sample chapters are fantastic. :D

@cleemckenzie - Me too! *grins* Hey, it couldn't hurt!

@Mina - Oo, I like your method, too. It seems like you could stumble across some great reads like that. :)

@Joylene - Aww, thank you! I appreciate that (and the tweet)! :D By the way, I love how you said that: Word of mouth adds a decisive impact. Too true, too true. :)

@Lisa - Oh, I know! I used to be a total first page snob. My sister, Dee, used to read the first chapter of some books out loud, just to try to get me into them. (I was a little impatient/stubborn in those days. *grins*)

@Iain - Hah! Your book pimp... Oh, I love that. :D

@Laila - You know, that doesn't surprise me. *grins* (The bit about hot covers, that is.) No opening the book at all, huh? Gutsy! :)

Oops. I should've checked my blog first. I would've known where we were, crit-wise. Sorry! :)

@Lydia - I'm so glad you said that! I do that when shopping for so many things, and people make fun of me for it. *grins*

Alleged Author said...

I skim the back then read the first 3 pages and 3 middle pages. If I'm still interested, I buy the novel.

Melodie Wright said...

Love the idea of page 12! I don't buy a book unless I've read and loved it first. I'm a library girl - very picky about what I buy bc I have to want to read it over and over.

Clarissa Draper said...

I love the page 12 thing. I'm going to check over my page 12 carefully now too.

Normally, I know what books I'm going to buy before I buy it but cover does mean a lot to me.

MISH said...

I'm gonna try the page 12 thinggie when I'm in the bookstore later this week, and see what I come up with. It definitely sounds like an interesting way of approaching the book-purchasing activity, especially if you want to try a new author.

inluvwithwords said...

That's funny. I'm going to try that page twelve thing. I usually read part of the inside flap. I don't like to read too much because they often give so much away.

Carrie Butler said...

@Alleged Author - Not a bad method! I'm sure you get a better idea of the author's writing style that way. :)

@Melodie - I'm the same way, only it's because I'm poor. *grins*

@Clarissa - It's fun to isolate a page of your own work. You try to convince yourself it's someone else's and think, "Would I buy this?" Oh, the things we do... *grins*

@Mish - Yeah, it's surprisingly telling. I'm glad you're going to give it a try! You'll have to let us know how it goes. :)

@inluvwithwords - Welcome! :) Oh, that's a good point. Reading too much can ruin the whole experience. We have to be careful!

Donna K. Weaver said...

The back cover will definitely draw me in. Plus suggestions from friends. I'm patient and will let a story take a little time to develop.

Elliot Grace said...

...it seems as thought every bookworm has their very own special method of deciding upon their next read.

For me, its the back cover, the blurbs, and much like your sister, I've gotta read a paragraph or two in order to make sure that the writer can actually write, or if I'll be wasting my time.

Great post,

El

Linda said...

That's a good idea! I usually just read the first page or two, but I might flip to a random page if I'm still unsure.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

The title gets me to pick up the book. The cover will prompt me to either put it down or flip through. I hit the first page then the middle, then the start of the last chapter. If I want to know more, to laugh at more of the dialogue, or ease around the tense next page -- I buy the book, Roland

Karen said...

In roller coaster world, I'm a 0 to 60 out of the gate kind of girl. I don't like spending all that time waiting for the thrill midway into the ride. I'm the same way with books. Show me how good the ride's going to be on page one, or I'm moving on.

Carrie Butler said...

@Donna - I envy your patience! :)

@Elliot - Welcome! This is very true. To each his own. :D Thank you!

@Linda - Maybe your random page can be the not-so-random page twelve. ;)

@Roland - That sounds like a great system to me. :) Welcome!

@Karen - I love the way you put that. Very telling of your personality. Nice! :)

Lydia Kang said...

Usually, the buzz about the book makes me look for it. If I'm not shopping for something specific, knowing the author or seeing a fantastic cover might make me pick it up.

Steven Whibley said...

Cover; Back-copy blurb; First two pages. In that order, without exception. If the cover catches my eye, and the back copy makes me want to open the book up, then all I need is to be engaged in the first two pages.

Angela Ackerman said...

"You know the funny thing? When I sent her my MS to read, I gave page twelve a little extra attention. ;)"

Haha, I love that!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Carrie Butler said...

@Lydia - Nothing like a little buzz to motivate us! :)

@Steven - Nice! I love hearing how methodic you guys are about your purchases. In fact, if I didn't live an hour from the nearest major bookstore, I'd do a follow-up post with some creepy, people-watching observations. Drat!

@Angela - Thank you! I hope all is well. :)