What makes you pick up/put down a book?

By | May 23, 2014

I’ve recently been involved in a twitter chat with @valerievaldes regarding reader expectations and it got me thinking. What exactly makes you pick up a book, and what makes you put it back down again, half-read or unread?

Let’s discount, for a second, the possibility of you knowing the author and would pick up anything he/she wrote. We’ll get back to that option later. You just walk into a bookstore, looking for something new to feast your literary mind on. What attracts you to a book…

a) the cover

b) the blurb

c) review comments on the jacket

d) none of those you always research first by reading reviews

And conversely, what is it that makes you put the book down as not what you were looking for?

a) cover doesn’t match the blurb or vice versa

b) you’ve read a bit and it’s not what you expected from the blurb/cover/reviews

c) you don’t like the style

And what does this lead to for you?

a) give the author another chance, this may be a one-off mismatch

b) avoid the author because once burned and all that?

Pretty please let me know what you think, I’m really interested!



Susan Gourley on 23 May 2014 at 6:27 PM.

The cover or title might make me pick it up though I like all kinds of covers. The blurb will propel me to open and read the first pages to see if I like the author’s voice.


Tessa on 24 May 2014 at 11:49 AM.

I always read the first couple of pages, too : )


Alex J. Cavanaugh on 24 May 2014 at 7:35 AM.

If the cover doesn’t rock, I don’t pick it up.
If the blurb doesn’t sound enticing or doesn’t match the cover idea, I’ll put it down.
If I start a book and I’m not enjoying it by page fifty, I stop reading. I might try that author again – depends on the book. (Perhaps the next one won’t have the element that bored me or maybe it will be in a different genre.)


Tessa on 24 May 2014 at 11:50 AM.

I agree on the cover issue – if it doesn’t appeal to me right away, I’m highly unlikely to pick up the book.


Amalia Dillin on 28 May 2014 at 4:53 PM.

Covers definitely make a difference as to whether or not I initially pick up a book — but also, TITLES. For example, a book which references some kind of mythology in the title will ALWAYS provoke me to pick it up and take a closer look, whether the cover art is rockin’ or not. Then I read the blurb — if the blurb doesn’t deliver on what I was hoping for from the title/cover combo, then I put it back down. If it sounds like it might be interesting, I open it up and read a few paragraphs before deciding to make my purchase.

as for putting it down after I get it home to start reading, it depends. Sometimes if a book is really bad enough (subjectively or objectively, a la writing is not up to par for what I have patience for) it’s like a car wreck and I can’t look away, so I keep reading in spite of myself. I actually don’t walk away from that many books once I start reading them — and I walk away from even fewer when I have them as physical copies in my hand, vs ebooks, which I will drop after the first chapter if it doesn’t grab me.


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