Talk to Me: What Makes You Buy a Book?

I've been thinking a lot about book marketing lately, and what actually "moves the needle" in terms of selling a children's/YA book to a customer. So I thought I'd survey my readership and ask:  When you're standing in the bookstore or sitting at your computer on a bookselling site, what makes you actually purchase a book? (Beyond the title, cover design, and flap/descriptive copy, of course, as I take it for granted those need to be great; and friend recommendations, as those can be personalized to you.) I don't expect anyone to answer all of these questions, but just to list some things I'm curious about:
  • Are you usually buying books for children in your life, or for yourself?
  • Do you pick up a book because you've seen a great review? In that case, what sources (which blogs or publications) matter most to you as a reader? Do you pay attention to user reviews or stars on  
  • Do you watch book trailers? Why?
  • Do you ever click through banner ads for books? On what sites do you notice them?
  • Do blurbs matter to you?
  • Do awards matter to you? What about lists? (E.g. Horn Book Fanfare, Texas Bluebonnet List)  
  • Given the small world of the kidlitosphere:  Of the last ten books you've bought, how many of the authors did you actually "know"? (Meaning you've had some substantive contact with them either online or in real life.)
  • If you pay attention to buzz, at what point does that translate to your seeking out a book? When it's everywhere? When the right person says it?  
  • Which of these factors -- again beyond the title, cover, flap copy, and friend recs -- has the MOST influence on you as a reader?
  • Opening it up:  Given our limited budgets, what should publishers be doing that we currently aren't doing in order to market books? Are there places we should be advertising to reach kids or teens? Media we should be in*? Cross-promotions we should be seeking out?
Obviously the answers are going to be different for every reader, and even every book bought by every reader, but I'd love to see what y'all have to say. Here are some of my answers:  I'm usually buying books for myself. I watch book trailers mostly out of curiosity about how their makers translate the book into visual form, given the usually limited budgets for such things. Reviews, buzz, and blurbs from or comparisons to the right author will all get me to pick up a book in the store, but the first pages have to sell me on it to get me to buy it. I notice banner ads in the PW newsletters and in the Unshelved weekly digest, and I also really like the Unshelved visual book talks and reviews. I love getting the Goodreads digest every day with my friends' substantive reviews, and those can inspire me to put a book on my to-read list, which is why I take good care with my own reviews (and also why I only add people I know in real life to my Goodreads friends list -- I don't need anything more to read!). The biggest reason I buy books is author loyalty:  I love a previous book by the author, and/or what I know of the author, and I want to have, and more than that, own his or her new one.


Thanks for sharing!
* Writing this, I suddenly had a vision of a video game in which somebody sits down and reads . . . but then the camera dives through the book, and you participate in the marvelous adventure in that book, until that comes to an end, and that tired protagonist sits down and opens a book . . . and then the camera dives through the book, and there's a completely different protagonist and you have to win through THAT adventure, which again would conclude in a book. . . . It would be the If on a winter's night a traveler** of video games! And awesome.

** Though I guess the TRUE Ioawnat video game would end each level with the protagonist sitting down to play a video game, thus keeping the loop going. And also there would be meta-commentary on what you-the-player would be doing between levels. This also sounds awesome.***

*** Now someone will tell me this video game was actually created in 2002. Go ahead, spoil my dream.