Aged Pages: Buying Habits

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I haven’t done an Aged Pages post is (looks at last AP post) a LONG time (August 2012). It’s now the end of March 2014…seems about as good a time as any to try getting the series going again. This post isn’t exactly focused on use bookstores, specifically, but it is focused on buying books and the idea for it started IN a used bookstore. I hope you’ll let it slide this time 😉

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Yesterday…I went to my local used bookstore. Big shock, right? It’s not like I go there every time I go into town or anything 😉

Since I wasn’t in a rush this time around, I figured I’d pay a little more attention to the books…and also more attention to how I went about picking the books I wanted to buy (or at least keep on my mental list for future visits).

Some people will buy books based on the covers. Others on title or the author. There are some readers who’ll grab a book from looking at the back cover (or flaps of a hardcover) alone.

I don’t consider myself someone to buys books because of their covers. This is different when I’m looking at ebooks, but I’ll talk about that a little later. Right now I’ll focus on print books in a physical store. The cover matters least when choosing books to read and buy, for me. Though, I will say that when I have the choice between a movie cover and non-movie cover…duh, I go for the one without the movie cover. Other than that, it could have anything on the cover and I don’t mind.

So, what did I find to be the influencer(s) on my choices? Book titles and less influential, author name. Like most bookstores, the one I go to has the books with their spines facing the customer. While scanning the shelves I read the titles, and some just grab me. I didn’t realize just how much a title will make me grab a book until today. One example is from one of my purchases. It’s called Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey. “This must be a book about books/a reader.” Books like that always sound good to me. It’s normally easy to connect with characters or the story sometimes since we both love books and reader. (That’s just a simple generalization of what draws me in.) I slide the book from between its neighbors and turned to the back cover…not the front…and read what it was about. Notice that? I didn’t look at the front of the book. What’s there for me to care about? It doesn’t tell me anything about the book like the back does. I found it interesting that I did this because it wasn’t a conscious move. But I’m pleased to notice that I did that for a majority of books I took a look at. There were a few exceptions. Those were mostly classics that had a few books by one author in them. The covers of those often list what  books are included (and the back rambles on about the author but not the books themselves).

As I mentioned earlier, ebooks are a different beast. Because of the nature of ebooks, there’s not a spine to read the title from. Books aren’t (99% of the time) on places like Amazon with just a title and author name in a big list. There’s a cover, then the price, title, etc listed next to it. But the COVER is what is seen first. It’s almost unavoidable. And you can’t even read a description until you click onto the book’s page.

I admit it, my browsing habits for ebooks are the total opposite of my print browsing habits. Does that make me a weirdo? Probably not. I’m sure I’m not alone with this. At first when I realized I DO buy due to an ebook’s cover I wasn’t too pleased. I took pride in not being cover biased. But there are reasons behind the cover bias for ebooks that I won’t get into in this post. Simply put, a print book with a blank cover (just title and author) doesn’t bother me in the least. Many of my older paperbacks (and hardcovers missing the dust jacket) are like that. But when I see an ebook with a similar cover, I normally move on to the next one. As I said, there’s a reasoning to this, but I won’t bore you with it today.

That being said, title also plays a role in me looking at an ebook. It works in the same way as it does print, but still, the cover grabs me first, then I see the title on the cover/next to the cover.

What am I getting at here? Well, it started as just a simple observation into how I find books. I was curious about it when I was in the bookstore. As I wrote this post, I noticed that I never really put much thought into these habits for print or ebooks. I only semi-consciously knew how and why I did things. It’s interesting to look into the psychology of a book buyer (even in the minimal, ramble way I did). I’m sure there are real studies on this, as there are with almost anything you can think of. Instead, I hope this small insight into my book habit at least tickled your fancy slightly. Maybe it’s even gotten you thinking about your own habits. If you’d like to share them, please leave a comment below. We’d all love to read what you have to share.

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And if anyone was curious, here are the books I bought:

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Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

Visions of Cody, by Jack Kerouac

Slammerkin, by Emma Donoghue

Perfect Reader, by Maggie Pouncey

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