Consumer brand-makers have long studied every nuance ofcustomers‘ shopping habits; they understand what makes a shopper reach for a particular product–why they reach for Dove soap, for example, as opposed to a nearly identical brand. Size, shelf placement, branding, color combinations, labels, price points–it’s all been studied, calibrated, and expertly wielded to part you from your money the next time you’re in the grocery store.
But in the publishing world, consumer marketing research seems to be woefully lacking. What makes a book-shopper shell out $25 for a hardcover book by an unknown author? Does anyone really know? Damned if most people in the publishing business seem to.
Authors don’t know, either. We’re always told, “Just write a good book, and readers will come.” I have visions of writers building ball parks in Iowa corn fields, waiting for Shoeless Joe to arrive for a book signing.
I’ve decided to run an unscientific poll to learn exactly why people bought their most recently purchased book. Is the conventional “superstar” theory correct, and did you buy a book by a major author? Or did you hear about a book or author from a review? From a blog? Did you wander the shelves and get drawn like a moth to a compelling cover and jacket copy? Or were a couple of factors involved?
Visit my poll, vote, and let me know how you made the decision to purchase your most recent book. Let me know how the poll can be refined or tweaked, and if there are any other polls you think would be worthwhile.
I’d also be interested to hear if anyone is aware of any hard core data about reader buying habits. Right now I get the sense that writers and publishers are simply wandering the corn fields. And we’re going to be stuck out there for a long, long time.