Subjectivity

Subjectivity

Are you influenced by book reviews? No, I don’t mean reviews of your books. What I’m asking is … do big name endorsements help you decide to buy a particular book? When you browse through a bookstore, what prompts you to reach for a book?

I read a lot. A LOT. And I do book reviews, and even a few endorsements. But I have to wonder, sometimes, if what I have to say has made a difference.

In a brick and mortar bookstore—those that remain, that is—you won’t find pages and pages of reviews such as you’ll find on Amazon.com or any of the other online booksellers. No, in a physical store all you’ve got to go on is the endorsement on the front or back cover of someone who read the book prior to its publication, liked it and provided a comment endorsing it.

Let’s say you’ve reached for a book that caught your attention and across the top you see a glowing statement by one of your favorite authors about how great this book is. So, because you like her, you figure if she likes this new book, you will like it too. You buy it. That endorsement influenced you to purchase the new book. Hopefully, you won’t be disappointed.

But that endorsement may not influence you. In fact, there may not even be an endorsement. Something else has caused you to reach for that book on the shelf or display table. Author name? Title? Book cover? Or a combination?

I admit that I seldom—no, make that never, these days—go to local bookstores. And I rarely“impulse buy” a book. [Truth time: I go out of my way to avoid the book aisles at grocery and discount stores. My book budget is already bankrupt.] I usually go right online and look for a specific title or author because I almost always know what I want. And I rarely read the reviews. For two reasons: a:) I don’t want a poor review to hover in the back of my mind when I read it; and, b:) I don’t want to be disappointed after reading a glowing 5-star review that, to me, should have only received 3 stars.

So, what’s the point of the subject name?

subjectivity: noun: Judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts

Ah ha! By that definition, all book reviews are subjective. The one doing the review brings all his/her personal beliefs—and biases—with him when s/he has finished the book. Well, probably long before s/he finished. I suggest those impressions and feelings were there the whole time s/he’s reading. The end result, in writing the review, is simply his/her opinion, be it 5 glowing stars or a scathing 1 star.

Speaking for myself, if I can’t give a book I’m reading to review at least 3 stars, I won’t review it. And, if I can’t award those 3 stars, chances are I didn’t finish the book, either.

And, another truth: I don’t really like writing reviews. I struggle with every one of them. I’ve even started backing off from doing them because I’m starting to think they don’t make a difference in the long run.

Online book-buyers usually know what they want, like me. So they’re already convinced the book will be a good read. Book buyers that shop the brick and mortar stores are, normally, browsers. Or they’ve decided to support the local bookstore buy purchasing in person. Again, I submit that those folks already know what they want. In any case, the shopper won’t have access to a list of reviews for that book. Unless, perhaps, there’s a huge fanfare about a New York Times Best Seller that’s been getting a lot of attention. Or has caused a blizzard of controversy.

Libraries? Same thing. Fiction readers almost always know what they’re looking for be it book stores or libraries. Last time I went to the library, outside of research purposes, I browsed the fiction section, and I found myself looking for authors I knew.

So … what say you? What makes you select a particular book to read? Do share.

 

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Peg Phifer About Peg Phifer

Multi-published author Peggy Blann Phifer writes a mixture of contemporary women’s fiction with three parts suspense, three parts mystery, and four parts romance, stirred up with a sprinkling of humor. Peg believes God has a sense of humor and that He intended to place laughter into our lives no matter our circumstances. Read more on her website.

Comments

  1. I don’t write anymore but I learning to read again love it

    [Reply]

    Cherie Burbach

    Cherie Burbach Reply:

    Still thinking of you, friend! Sending love your way…

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks for your comment, Janet. Glad you’re enjoying reading again. God bless you!

    [Reply]

  3. I am always looking for new and different books, especially for my book club selections. I rely on book reviews and the “you might also like” suggestions on places like Amazon and Goodreads to point me towards potential choices. I rarely look at the endorsements on the actual book.

    [Reply]

  4. Thanks for your input, Lisa. I’m with you on the endorsements. They rarely influence me when choosing a book. I do appreciate those ‘you might also like’ suggestions, but it’s mostly the author him/herself that makes me want to read something.

    [Reply]

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