Subjectivity

Subjectivity

Are you influenced by book reviews? 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’ve set up a little poll on my blog (on the sidebar) to find out what you think. It will be through Memorial Day to try and catch a good sampling of how we select our books.

I read a lot. A LOT. And I do book reviews. But I have to wonder, sometimes, if what I have to say really

makes a difference.

In a brick and mortar bookstore, you won’t find pages and pages of reviews such as you’ll find on Amazon.com or any of the other online booksellers. 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 go to local bookstores. And I seldom “impulse buy” a book. My book budget is already bankrupt, and my TBR list is out of control.  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 2 stars, I-usually-won’t review it. But that’s just me.

Truth? I don’t really like writing reviews. I struggle with every one of them. I try hard not to give away any plot lines and avoid revealing any ‘spoilers.’ I inadvertently did that, long ago, and the author really came down on me. Ouch.

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, frequently, 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.

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. Peg, nice post. I liked your insightful and honest feelings about reviews. I can resonate. I confess the back blurb or front print are what influence me.

    • Thanks for your response, Jude. Yes, I admit that when browsing for books, I tend to pick one up due to the front cover. Then I read the flyleaf or back cover blurb.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.