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Topic: Do cover blurbs matter?

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Subject: Do cover blurbs matter?
Date Posted: 8/18/2008 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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 The NYT had a story this weekend about how authors "swap off" on cover blurbs for each other---you know, the quotes on a cover that says "Best Book Ever!!" and "insightful" and "Astounding debute novel"---that kind of thing. I also know some authors who talk about doing this for friends, and all the niceties and trade-offs involved.

But does anybody ever really pay attention to, or be influenced by, those blurbs?

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 11:26 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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You know, even though I know it's silly and that authors swap quotes for each other...I can't help being more likely to pick up a book if I recognize the author of the cover blurb.  So if Amy Tan tells me to read a book, even if it's just her publisher telling her that she needs to give a quote for another author at the same house, I guess I read it!

Perhaps I'm too well-trained - very good at following orders :-)

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 1:06 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 2,655
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I don't even pay attention to the other authors' quotes.  I want to somewhat form my own opinion I guess.

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2006
Posts: 2,798
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I detest the blurbs especially when they are in place of the what the story is about.

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 4:01 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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Ditto for what Wendy said.  Give me a brief synopsis and let me make up my own mind!

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
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I pay no attention to the blurbs.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 8/18/2008 4:55 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I only recall one blurb that ever made any difference to me.  On the cover of The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle there was this testimonial: "Possibly the Greatest Science Fiction Novel I've Ever Read" - Robert Heinlein. I know some authors lay out these kind of testimonials left and right, but I have never seen another one from Heinlein (who is probably my favorite author) and I was a little surprised he'd use that kind of language...but  I was not disappointed.

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 6:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/25/2005
Posts: 24,786
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Not anymore.  I asked an author about these blurbs once and she told me they are supposed to be attached to a particular book ONLY.  But I kept seeing the same blurb on almost every book in a series. 

I stopped paying attention to them after that.

Date Posted: 8/18/2008 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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I used to pay attention to them. When I was reading a lot of Sophie Kinsella stuff I saw her's on a few others that sounded similar to her work and then she said that she liked it so I bought the books thinking they would be great...and they were awful! bad writing, bad story line, bad characters, you name it. and then my respect for Sophie Kinsella dropped because I just couldn't believe that she thought these books were wonderful. However, I do pay attention to what authors I don't like say. Like the autor of Devil Wears Prada, I don't buy anything if she says its good because I hated the Prada book. so I figure if I don't like her writing I wont like the writing she likes. short answer: yes I pay attention to them.
Date Posted: 8/18/2008 9:37 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2008
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I have to admit it - I do pay attention to them, but I still like to think I make up my own mind about whether to buy/read a book or not.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 1:04 AM ET
Member Since: 11/10/2006
Posts: 2,988
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I barely notice them any more unless they are in some huge font that rivels the title and author. I am also suspicious when the back of the book only talks about praise for another of the author's works (especially on PBs since there is no dust jacket for a synopsis of the story). I feel like they are "hiding" something about the book - like it is so bad they are hoping you will buy it based upon something else they wrote.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 11:50 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2008
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I'm with Wendy and Venessa.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I pay very little attention to book reviews, blurbs or ratings. I don't put much faith in what other author's have to say becaue I know they're either getting paid for it, contracted to do it by their publisher or doing it in exchange for similar blurbs on their books.  So of course they're not going to say "this books sucks buy mine instead".  I  read the back blurb that tells what the book is about and decide if it's something I'm interested in for myself. Many times I have loved a book that has been rated or reviewed poorly and hated books that got rave reviews.  If I read a book by an author and like it-I tend to read everything else they've written whether they got good reviews or not.  If I read a new author and don't care for them-I generally give them another book.  Sometimes they grown on me and other times they don't.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 4:39 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 13,991
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I think Mary has nailed the basic concept behind the blurbs. Too many times, the author who writes the blurb has not even read the book! It's all a business deal, or helping out a friend.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 10,402
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Yes, I read that article also.  (I subscribe to the NYT partially because it means I get the Book Review a day early!)  I pay attention to blurbs if they are by an author whose work I enjoy.  However, some authors are starting to blurb me to death - I love Harlan Coben, but it seems like he blurbs every new thriller release these days.  Same for Stephen King... when I hear someone calling every book the next best thing I stop listening after a while.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 9:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
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It is a minor influence.  If I see a book in the library I will notice if one of my preferred authors has a blurb.  I do notice the lack of "author" blurbs.  If no authors at all are on the list of blurbs, I am more hesitant to check it out. 

For me to pay money or order a book at PBS I have to have a REAL PERSON recommendation. 

I LOVE the reviews here at PBS.  They very much help me pick out books.  Often when I am ordering books from a special in the Book Bazaar...the PBS reviews help me make the decision for the "freebies".

Date Posted: 8/20/2008 8:32 AM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2006
Posts: 4,813
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Just give me a quick synopsis on what the book is about.  And please don't include spoilers.

Date Posted: 8/20/2008 9:51 AM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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It might catch my eye, but I go for the synopsis. That is what counts for me. I do not use the reviews much. I always skip the official ones on or in the book. I read some of them here on PBS if I am undecided after reading the synopsis.