The way we read has changed a great deal over the years and unsurprisingly, the way we choose our books has had to evolve to keep up with the constant changes in the publishing industry.
When my daughters were tiny I would escape from the house as soon as my husband walked through the door. I’d walk down to the local shops and into Borders where I’d spend at least an hour perusing the shelves and more often than not I’d come away with a couple of purchases. I was always drawn to a bright cover, sometimes the author’s name in big bold letters, or perhaps reading a blurb enticed me to buy. I would stop in the coffee shop next door and enjoy my new read over a hot chocolate, completely lost in my ‘me’ time.
Like many other people, I am devastated every time a bookshop closes. They are special places that warm me the second I walk in with their endless possibilities for a good story. The ‘Books Are My Bag’ campaign operates across the UK and Ireland and is the biggest promotion of bookshops since its launch in 2013. According to the ‘Books Are My Bag’ website, 56% of all book buying decisions are still made by consumers in a bookshop, which is great to hear!
But what happens if I can’t choose my books by browsing at the local bookshop?
I often base my next book purchase on previous experience. I’ll go back to the same author time and time again if I like their voice and the stories they tell and I get really excited when their next book is released.
I personally don’t use reviews or ratings to choose a book but it works for some people. If there is great media hype surrounding a new book or I see it advertised often enough, I can be enticed to read it out of curiosity…perhaps to see if I agree with the comments that are being made about it. I am also influenced by my peers. Thanks to the Write Romantics and the contacts that we all bring to the group, I’ve been reading more widely and loving every minute of it. I’ve discovered new authors and voices that keep me constantly entertained.
Then there is what I like to call ‘accidental book selection’. This can happen via friends’ recommendations: JoJo Moyes’ ‘Me Before You’ was being passed around at the gym one day and I grabbed it. ‘Accidental book selection’ can happen when you least expect, too, perhaps enticing you into a new genre: at the RNA conference 2014 up in Shropshire I had the pleasure of sitting next to Hazel Gaynor and she was so lovely and friendly, answering many of my writing questions. Historical novels have never been my thing but I bought her book ‘The Girl Who Came Home’ anyway and I was hooked…it kept me engrossed during the flight between the UK and Australia 🙂 It can be uncomfortable to step outside your usual genre, but there’s also so many unique books out there that sometimes, as with Hazel’s book, it can be a lovely surprise.
With a trip coming up from Sydney – Melbourne – Singapore – UK, these are my latest purchases and how I chose them:
Saving Grace by Jane Green – Jane Green is one of my all-time favourite authors so I jumped at the chance to buy her latest book when I saw it in Dymocks bookshop in Sydney.
Amy & Zach by Sarah Louise Smith – The eye-catching cover combined with the blurb on the Crooked Cat website.
Big Lies, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – I read a newspaper article about Lianne Moriarty, who lives in Sydney. I’d also read her previous novel The Husband’s Secret and loved it.
I’d love to hear how others choose their books…do covers matter, or the publisher perhaps? Do you rely on friends’ opinion, reviews or ratings? Or do you look at book blogs or prize winners to make your choice?
Until then…Happy reading!
Helen R x