What effect do blurbs have on you?

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I came across this article on blurbs and blabs today and it made me wonder what effect, if any, blurbs have on potential readers.  You mind helping me answer that? Has a blurb by an author you enjoy piqued your interest in another author’s work?  Has a blurb influenced your decision to buy or not buy a book?

To be clear, I plan to continue asking for blurbs and giving them when asked (assuming I have time to read the book in question and dig it), but I wonder about their effect.  A blurb has never influenced my interest in a book, much less influenced a decision to buy or not buy, but I’m not sure if my view is typical.

So, thoughts?  Help a brother out.

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19 thoughts on “What effect do blurbs have on you?

  1. It does. Not always — but it does.

    A blurb from a writer I love will get me to buy a book.

    Now, I’m also a writer, as you know, so that may skew this sample — but just the same, a blurb by a writer I really dig will matter. Always has, actually.

    Blurbs from reviews or from other writers I care less about mean zip, unless they somehow share additional details that make me consider the book.

    — c.

  2. I think the blurb is somewhere around third in my decision-making priorities when I’m looking at buying a book. First comes name recognition, I search for new books by authors I either recognise, or enjoy. Secondly, I look for titles that sound interesting, and based on either of the first two categories, I look at the blurb.

    I am more likely to buy a book based on a quality blurb that sucks me in, which is a reason why I prefer paperbacks generally to hardcovers, because you don’t have to flip inside to look at the dust-jacket.

    I also prefer a well-scribed blurb to a series of celebrity endorsements by other authors. I usually do not pay any attention, or give any credence to author-endorsements.

    Just my thoughts.

  3. The authorial endorsements don’t figure at all in my buying decisions, at least not the printed ones in any case. I do take recommendations from friends and “acquaintances” into account when buying novels sometimes, but actual authorial endorsements are a zero factor.

  4. Only once, for David Feintuch’s awesome MIDSHIPMAN’S HOPE. On the cover it was said to be “In the triumphant tradition of STARSHIP TROOPERS and ENDER’S GAME.” Since those are two of my all time favourites I gave it a chance, and was glad I did! It’s just too bad he passed away before he was able to finish the final volume of the series.

  5. Two things draw me in. A good cover/title and either some blurb on the books characters or a good opener before chapter one to set the tone.

  6. It does have some effect for me. I might never have taken a chance on Steven Brust’s “To Reign In Hell” without Zelazny’s blurb, or on Howard Jones’s “The Desert of Souls” without Glen Cook’s. If I see a clear and unambiguous note from an author whose work I admire, saying (essentially), “I like this!”, I’m much more likely to take a chance on the new author.

    That said, I’ve been sucked into work I hated through this philosophy (George RR Martin’s recent anthology of urban fantasy, for instance), but I figure that books are like food – it never hurts to try something new.

  7. I like them personally. If say I was looking at a novel and was on the fence whether or not to buy it, and you gave a glowing blurb for it I’d be much more inclined to read it than not.

  8. From a great deal to very little. Blurbs are, of course, universally positive, so it takes some incredible blurbs, or blurbs far outside the usual spectrum, to pique my interest. The easiest way to do that, of course, is to have a big name in the genre endorse the book, but the blurb can also laud the specific qualities of the book, or praise it to extreme heights…

    One blurb which attracted me recently, on the cover of The Mote In God’s Eye: “Possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.” – Robert Heinlein

    You know that’s going to get me interested–one of the giant names of Sci Fi endorsing a book as better than sliced bread? Yes please.

    The Name of the Wind has several good quotes on the back of its cover, but what really impressed me with it was what I found after cracking the book open: quotes from Ursula Le Guin, Terry Brooks (those two were on the back, admittedly), Robin Hobb, Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card, and many more–all praising the book in high terms. Now, that’s not something that one might normally catch, so I don’t know how effective it is to the public at large, but having already had the book recommended to me from another quarter, it made it a sure sale.

  9. Overall, blurbs aren’t terribly important to me. I tend to pick up books based more on genre/series/theme but I can certainly name three books which, due to a blurb by an author I’ve admired, I bought unplanned.

    1) Jim Hines’ Goblin series, all thanks to Ed Greenwood (I’m a Forgotten Realms fan so if he found it funny and enjoyable then I may like it as well).

    2) The Conquer’s Shadow by Ari Marmell, who Scott Lynch of The Lies of Locke Lamora fame credited as having “a remarkable flair for the sinister”. That wasn’t half bad, interesting tale and enjoyable enough.

    3) Shadow’s Son (and follow on with Shadow’s Lure) by Jon Sprunk was blurbed by Elaine Cunninghamas “fans of Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and Paul Kemp will definitely want to read this”. So far, the first book was decent but it seemed to be missing something, I think some deeper characterization maybe, and the second book I’m reading but have put down a couple months back. It’s not hooking me but I know if I sit down and focus I’ll push through it fairly quickly.

    So, blurbs don’t account for much but there are moments when I’ll browse the shelves (or at least there were until the Border’s Books right around the corner from me closed down) that I’ll see something and the blurb will have purchase it.

  10. It’s worked, but in limited instances. Those rare times when I’m scouting for a random book, a good blurb from a source I trust will likely get me to jump on it (sometimes literally). But if an author I really enjoy goes out of their way to kick out a blurb, I pay attention.

    For example, Matt Stover’s blurb in The Lies of Locke Lamora convinced me to grab it, no questions asked, and I’ll probably do the same for a few of the books Mr. Salvatore has endorsed. (I think A Darkness Forged In Fire by Chris Evans was one of them. FantasticFiction.co.uk tries to link author and blurb sometimes.) And likewise if I ever saw a blurb from you pop up on a book, of course.

    And this might be evidence of too much thought being put into something like this, but I see a conflict of interest when authors do blurbs for books from their publisher. Like if you had a blurb printed on four or five of the next upcoming releases from Angry Robot, I might say, “Nice try, buddeh.”

  11. None at all. I always question them. Is the blurbist a friend of the author? Are they both published with the same publisher? Did they really read the book? And they’re never constructive. What does one blurb say that I haven’t read on a hundred other books?

    Reviews from blogs or Amazon are more helpful to me.

  12. I’ve never bought a book because of a blurb, but I have bought books on author recommendations (like if an author recommends a book on their site). The short blurbs on movies and books are generally too short or trumped up to be useful.

  13. There are three things that sell a book to me: the author and/or the franchise or recommendation from a trusted friend. If it is an author that I have not previously read, but I like the franchise then I will buy and read at least one book by that author in that franchise. If I do not enjoy the book then I will continue to buy from the franchise by not that specific author (this has happened to me a few times in SW, and once in FR). If I enjoy the book, then I will most likely try to find and obtain all works by that author, whether or not the other books are set in the franchise or not. The rules for recommendation from a trusted friend pretty much follow the same guidelines as if I were to try a new author in a franchise I am familiar with.

  14. Absolutely. My favorite author is Neil Gaiman, and I’ve purchased numerous books on his recommendation alone. Some are out of print and were very expensive. For example, the short story collection Nine Hundred Grandmothers by R. A. Lafferty costed me about $70, paperback. You can read one of Lafferty’s short stories, The Six Fingers of Time on project guttenberg for free if you’d like to sample him: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31663/31663-h/31663-h.htm

  15. There are particular authors whose recommendations get my attention;I would buy any SF novel recced by Lois M Bujold,sight unseen.Multiple author blurbs,provided I don’t actively dislike them,will also get most books a look-in.Problem is if I’m burned once after listening to an author’s opinion, I discount everything else he/she says.

    Story blurbs are more important IMO.And if I really conflicted,there’s always the Internet.That said,I’ve never been particularly impressed by blurbs citing review blogs;I dunno why.

  16. They’ve definitely helped me decide whether or not to pick a book up. There are certain authors whose opinions I’ d say I valued.

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