The Browsing Effect

I was in Bluestockings the other day–an independent book store on the Lower East Side that publishes a lot of provocative titles, including gender and area studies– browsing books.  I didn’t have an agenda in mind in terms of what book I was looking for, just something interesting and fast to read.  Although I am inundated with submissions and queries, I still find it really important to take some time out everyday and read for pleasure.  I think being open to other genres and types of books, sharpens your instincts as a reader.

I came across a book in the YA section called, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron.  I liked the premise of the book.  I liked the title.  I read the blurbs on the back and then turned to a random page in the book.  I didn’t sniff the book but I did read the prose and liked what I saw.  I turned to another page in the book, and continued to like what I was reading.  I decided to take a chance and purchase the book.  I’m about half-way through it now in one-sitting.

The nice thing about bookstores is that you don’t lose the browsing effect.  Because you can see the books in a physical space, it is easier to chance upon a book you wouldn’t have noticed while browsing Amazon.com for instance.  True, different review services, blogs, book clubs, writer’s groups all serve similar purposes in terms of exposing us to new books.  But sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than going to a bookstore and plucking one book out among thousands just based on the back cover copy, the writing on one random page, or even the title.

How do you browse for books online versus in a bookstore?  Does the cover matter?  What about the title, have you bought a book based solely on an interesting title?  What makes you take a chance on a book you’ve never heard of?

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One comment

  1. I like to hold books and read them. I can’t see my self reading books online, but I do go to Amazon Kindle and read the first free pages of books, just to get the style of writing. The cover matters a lot when I enter a book store and see many books. A great cover draws me to check the book. I don’t care much for the title. I don’t take any chance really. In the large bookstore attached to my building (The Canadian version of Barnes & Noble) you can relax on a chair and read as many pages as you wish before buying the book. But I don’t browse really. I only go to the table of the best sellers and look there. I mostly only read best seller to try and understand why they became best seller and hopefully implement the lessons into my two novels.


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