Monday, December 3, 2007

So, how much do book blurbs influence you?

Here is an interesting discussion about book blurbs - you know, those little quotes from other authors who either write books with similar themes (for fiction) or from authorities in the field (for nonfiction books).

I find that the synopses on jacket flaps and back covers give way too much away for my liking (for fiction, that is). If I'm considering reading a particular novel, I don't want to know very much about it at all, just very general descriptions: a supernatural murder mystery set in ancient Rome, for example (I'd give that one a try - anyone know a book that fits the description I just made up?). So I tend not to read much from the flap. But I have to admit, if an author I really enjoy writes a blurb for a book I'm considering, that does influence me in its favor.

For nonfiction, I think the blurbs are more important. If someone whose opinion I respect that's an expert in a given field writes a blurb for a book on that same subject matter, I definitely take notice.

What about you? Are you skeptical of blurbs, taking them with a handful of salt? How much do they influence your book choices? Have you ever been let down or misled by a blurb? Do you find them helpful? Or do you ignore them?


  1. interesting question..I concur on the nonfiction that I'm more prone to pick up the book and take it seriously if someone in that field I respect says something good about it. But usually I don't even read the book blurbs, to be honest.
    Who has let me down is the Washington Post Book World, I've checked out books on their recommendation and the book is just AWFUL.

  2. I don't really pay attention to them unless a name I know catches my eye.

  3. Like you, I am influenced by a blurb by an author I like. But if it's just an adjective from a "reputable" newspaper or critic, as in "Magnificent - The Guardian", I tend to ignore it, and I frankly find it silly. I know they are supposed to have authority, but just a single adjective taken out of context doesn't mean much at all.

  4. VA Gal - don't you hate when that happens with reviews? That is why I love my bookblogosphere so much - not only do you get to hear about books that would NEVER be reviewed in Book World, but you also get to know the taste of the reviewers, and you trust their judgment when they recommend a book to you because they've gotten to know your reading taste. It's fun!

    Ladytink - and to think of all the agonizing that goes on at the publishing company for blurbs that you totally ignore! :-)

    Nymeth - I feel the same way - in fact "Magnificent" is almost always a letdown. And also those sentences where there have clearly been words removed so that I start making up what the original quote might actually have been, and laughing about it.


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