Have you ever thought about what goes through your head before you purchase a book? Are you a “destination buyer” or an “impulse buyer”? Do you search out a particular author? Do you risk making a purchase simply on what you may have read on a cover or an Amazon description/review? Are you influenced by reviews on websites, blogs or in major magazines?
Before I share my buying habits, let me first explain the difference between a destination buyer and an impulse buyer. The destination buyer is one who is looking for a specific book or type of book. Maybe you want the latest Grisham novel or a book on Windows XP. You’re going to a store or a website with a particular book in mind. Contrast that with the impulse buyer who is browsing around when something catches their eye. They aren’t necessarily looking for a book on Lou Gehrig, but the one on promotion gets their attention. Although they didn’t plan this purchase, the price was right and it looks like a great story.
I’m a destination buyer almost 100% of the time. I rarely wind up buying something I didn’t originally set out for. I’m also highly unlikely to buy a book without some sort of recommendation. That advice might come from a magazine review or word-of-mouth from a friend. On rare occasions I’ll let myself be swayed by several strong Amazon reviews.
I also use one other tool for some of my purchases: Bestseller lists. Like most people, I’m curious to see what others are reading. If I’m not that familiar with the topic area or I just want to see what’s hot, I’ll look through Amazon’s top 25 to see what’s selling. This approach probably only produces 10-20% of my overall purchases though. Even when I notice an interesting title on a bestseller list I generally wind up Googling it to see where it might be reviewed and what people have to say about it. The point here is to get away from all the noise on Amazon and see what other people/sites have to say.
How does this match up with your book buying habits? Does your checklist look considerably different?