What Makes Me Buy a Book?
What prompted me to buy my first car? At that point in time I was happily traveling in the comforts of Kolkata Metro (well sometimes journeys turn out to be nightmarish – but have you ever heard of unmixed bliss?) from my school and back. The price of petrol was particularly skyrocketing at that time, so convenience was not clearly the key. What I wanted to buy was the dream, the pride of owing a dream on four wheels.
If you have a close look at the media commercials, you will realize that what they want to sell to you are dreams; not the product. When you are watching a media commercial on using a fairness cream, you will never see the technology behind the mystery of getting fairer. What you are going to see instead is that a plain next door boy or girl is able to touch the rainbow of his or her wish after using the fairness cream. So dreams are sometimes more important in marketing than the product itself.
That’s product marketing, but books are different. We still haven’t invented the art of selling hope or dreams packaged as a book.
Then what sells a book?
Writers take different approaches fathoming the future sentiment of the mango-man towards their book. Social networking sites are essential tools where pre-arrival news are announced with much fanfair. And then there are websites. (In these days of technological marvels if you do not have a website for your ‘literary masterpieces’ then you are not writers). Often the initial chapters are displayed for comment and opinion of the general readers. But writers need to be cautious and not get carried away. Arrival news flooded with likes on the facebook page does not necessarily mean that it is going to be a smash hit.
Then what really sells a book?
Does the aesthetics of a book play any part to determine which book to buy? Interior decorators these days throng bookstores in search of coffee table books. I know a couple who had recently gone to Starmark, with specifications, in quest of a series of hardcover books. And the specifications? Hard covers bound in maroon cloth and stamped with gold lettering. Confused? Well, everything in the drawing room is maroon coloured, right from the curtain to the sofa covers. After all, book covers have to be compatible with the color schemes of the drawing room!
That’s pseudo-readers. What is the real attraction for a real reader?
Book cover does play a part in the decision making process. I had reviewed a book named India was One by An Indian (pseudo name). It had all the necessary spices – a touching sentimental story of romance and a dash of patriotism. Everything was perfect about the book. A sure shot potential bestseller or screenplay good to be converted into a Bolllywood hit –but what struck my mind was the cover of the book. It has a fluttering tricolor divided by the barbered fence. Well, to me it seemed more a history text book rather than a romantic novel with shades of patriotism. So I told the writer – after a long exhausting journey, compelled to spend the night in the waiting room of the railway station and forced to buy a book of fluid read from the Wheeler stall to spend the night – will your potential buyer have a look inside your book or ignore your book taking it to be a textbook of history? You can well imagine that the writer was not at all pleased with my comment. But my point was clear, Brilliant illustrations, paper quality, printing, hardcover binding – all play their parts in convincing readers but only to a limited extent. Aesthetics play a part while choosing a book especially when the potential reader is hearing of the writer for the first time.
Never Judge A Book By Its Cover! they say…….Really?
If I insist that you buy a book that is good quality art paper but with a terrible cover and an author you haven’t read ever…will you buy it?
For us, at TTP, the number one criteria in choosing a book is Book Cover and hence our gorgeous new section – Book Cover Reviews. Check out! Which are the ↑ and which ↓