Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How Do You Choose New Books In A Bookstore?

Mulluane | Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | 4 Comments so far
Book Collage

I visit a bookstore on average twice a year. Birthday and Christmas. Since I go so rarely, and have limited funds, I have certain things I look for.

I am going to give you my list, in order of importance, but what I am really curious about is, how do you look for new books in a bookstore?

  • First I go straight to the Fantasy/Scifi paperback section. Hardcovers are out of reach and at my age, difficult to handle.

  • Next I look for my favorite authors. Probably shouldn't. Should look for new (atleast to me) authors first but there are certain ones I check for every time.

  • Size. Yes I admit it, I look for the fattest books I can find. If I am going to pay $8-$10 for a book, I want more page for my dollar. 600 pages is good, 800 is better. Besides being cheap, I only go twice a year so I want books that will carry me for awhile.

  • Found a nice fat book, next stop, the back cover. Is it something I want to read? What subgenre does it fall into? If back blurb is unclear, I'll randomly read a few pages.

  • Next is inside the front cover. Is it part of a series? Is the series done or are there "forthcoming" books listed? I am a series fanatic who hates waiting years for the "next" book. When I buy, I buy the whole series. If the series is incomplete, the book goes back on the shelf.

  • OK, the series is finished. Next is another look on the shelf. Are the other books in the series there? Do I already have any of them at home? Do I even remember? And, why oh why is it that I never bring a list? (yes I have that conversation with myself every... single... time...)

  • Rarely, I will check out a book because of its cover. The reason why I say rarely is because most of the time all I can see is the spine. Most bookstores "showcase" (cover facing out) a few books, but not very many.

  • Next thing I go looking for is old books. Books I used to have but have either loaned, lost or worn out. This search is often fruitless because older books tend to be missing atleast one in the series. Assuming they have them at all. But, sometimes I get lucky.

  • Next I'll look at the new release section. Not because I can afford anything there but so I know what to watch for next year when it comes out in mass market paperback. Not that I'll remember mind you, but I look anyway.

  • Finally, if I have any money left (doubtful), I'll go take a look at the YA section. Not much epic fantasy being written for YA but it never hurts to look.
So what is your process? Do you bring a list or spend a glorious hour or two perusing the shelves? Or do you do all of your shopping online or in discount/used bookstores? Maybe your thing is strictly the library in which case, how do you choose a new book there?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Mulluane is a 55-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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Dragons, Heroes and Wizards


  1. Well, it's been a while since I've been able to go to a new-books bookstore. Hilo currently has used-book bookstores, and Hawaiiana bookstores that mostly carry new books, but no general bookstores that carry mainly new books.

    Still, I remember what I used to do, and know what I do when I go a used-book bookstore, and it isn't that different. (I'm assuming you're talking about a serious trip, not an in-and-out dash to grab something I missed.) {Smile}

    First I check on any specific books/series/authors that I've been thinking of particularly recently. Usually this leads me to adult or young adult fantasy/scifi if the bookstore is that organized. If not, then adult or young adult in general. Hardcover vs. paperback is unpredictable, especially since the one thing all the bookstores share is a tendency to mix up hardcovers and trade paperbacks. For that matter, the used bookstore I like shelves small paperbacks with the large paperbacks and hardcovers. Only the folios (coffee table books) get separate shelving, and even then only if they don't fit on the main shelves.

    Anyway, on the way, I check out any tables and/or endcap displays that might hold books I'm interested in. If something catches my eye - even if I don't know why, I pick it up and check it out. (More about checking out individual books later.)

    Then I check out the books/series/authors I've been particularly thinking about, picking up and checking out anything that catches my eye.

    Next, I go to the beginning of the adult science fiction and fantasy section, and start scanning the shelves from the A's to the Z's. When I'm done there, I ask myself if I'm ready to move to the next stage. If not, I'll go scan young adult and/or juvenile (for) fantasy/science fiction.

    (To be continued)

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  2. (Continued)

    At some point, I'm ready to check my books more thoroughly.

    First, tho, the initial checking. I pick up the book, look at the front cover, flip it to see the back. Then I read the blurb either on the back, or on the flaps/inside. Then I might read any sample texts. That's the initial inspection. At any point, I'll put it back if I lose interest. (Yes, even glancing at the front cover, tho usually I get further than that.) If it hasn't lost my interest by the end of this inspection, it goes into the stack/basket/bag.

    By the end, I normally have more books than I meant to take home with me. Even if I don't, I take the books I've found off to a chair, preferably near a table or something similar, for sorting.

    Yes, sorting. Now I look over each book more carefully, checking the cover, blurb, any samples before the title page, and the beginning and end. Yes, I read the end before I buy. I take too long reading each book to read anything I hate the ending of. {lop-sided smile}

    Then I put the book into one of three stacks: definitely yes, definitely no, and let-me-think-about-this. Only at point do I look at number and price of books; specifically those in the definitely-yes stack. Is that enough money and/or books for one shopping trip, or could I add some from let-me-think-about-this without feeling like I'm getting excessive? More often than not, I decide I could add at least one or two, so I go thru let-me-think-about-this again. This time, I really read the beginning, asking myself if I really like the writing, not just the story. Does the author keep my attention, or does my mind start to wander. If I start thinking about later in the story, that may be okay, but if I start thinking about another book, the book goes onto definitely-no, and I move on. If decide I like it well enough, it goes onto definitely-yes, and I move on.

    When they're all sorted into two stacks, definitely-yes goes to the cash register, while definitely-no goes back. If I'm interrupted by my ride arriving before I'm done, I scan let-me-think-about-it and make snap decisions to speed up the process. {Smile}

    By the way, when I use the library, it's essentially the same system, except I don't consider cost. Online, I do as much as I can of this. Unfortunately, they never let me check out the ending, so I often check to see if the library has a copy. I'd rather read theirs first than buy a book I might regret giving shelf space to. Shelf space is by far the most limiting factor in this house. {resigned smile}

    (Sorry for the two-part answer; I didn't have space for everything in one comment. {Smile})

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  3. Interesting.

    I love book covers. I love fantasy art of any kind but I rarely take them into consideration when choosing a book. Afterall, I spend no time admiring the cover and all my time in between them reading the pages.

    As always, great input Anne!

  4. I doubt the cover would make much difference to me, except that a few of my no-thanks points (vampires, werewolves, too much blood) tend to make it into the covers. So checking them out can speed up the shopping process. {Smile, wink}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


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