Why I Buy Books

I have been reading since I was four years old.  In September, I’ll turn 70.  In sixty-six years I’ve read a lot of books.   I don’t have accurate figures, but I’d guess that half of the books I’ve read have been novels­   I write novels, and I self-publish them.

I have been in sales for more than forty years, and I’ve been a self-published author for fourteen months, yet I’m just now getting around to asking myself, why do I buy a book?

So I’m a slow study.  However, I finally did ask, and now I have the answer.  There are three reasons that I buy books.  In David Letterman order, they are:

Number 3:  A book grabbed me while browsing through a bookstore, or, these days, a supermarket, or pharmacy.

Number 2:  I met the author.  I’ve only met a few authors face-to-face, but every time it happened, I bought their book(s).  Frankly, I think authors walk on water, and now that I am one, that opinion hasn’t changed.

And finally, my top reason for buying a book -

Number 1:  Someone recommends it.

All three of those ways can, and will, work for self-published authors, if we work them.  Here’s an example of how two of them worked, prompting me to buy The Gaze, by Javier Robayo.

A few months ago, Javier found me on twitter, followed me, and sent me a couple of tweets.  Some time passed, and he made a few comments on my blog posts.  Last weekend he made a comment on my post What John Grisham Forgot.  In his last sentence, he mentioned that he loved my book, Fourth and Forever.  I replied to his comment and then went to his twitter profile, clicked the link to his blog, “Letters to my Daughters,” and read his post, The First Commencement.   I was blown away, so I checked him out on Amazon.com and discovered his book, The Gaze.  The book’s description and 15 five-star reviews got my attention, so I bought a copy, downloaded it onto my Kindle, and began reading.

I haven’t finished The Gaze, so this isn’t a review, but I will tell you this much, unless Javier forgets how to write in the second half of the book, my review will be another five-starred one for his collection.  I’ve recommended The Gaze to my wife, Christina, and our partner, Adrienne Wall, and now, in this blog post on writing and marketing, I’m recommending it to you.  That’s how most book sales are made and that’s how they always will be made.

The beauty of the process is Javier didn’t ask me to buy his book.  He caught my interest with his personal tweets to me and through comments he made on a few of my blog posts.  Now, I’ve bought his book, and he doesn’t know it, and I’m asking you to buy it, and he doesn’t know that either.   If you buy it, and you like it, you’ll recommend it to someone else and they will do the same.

For almost a year, I’ve been led to believe that Jeff Bezos, the crack sales team at Amazon, and Algorithm Man sold self-published books, when, in fact, books are sold by authors and their satisfied readers.

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11 Responses to Why I Buy Books

  1. Jennifer Blair
    Twitter:
    says:

    Bert, I enjoyed your post and agree with #1: Someone recommends it. (I just went over to Amazon.com & bought The Gaze.) I love a good story. If someone says “This guy can write!” then I want to read it. Looking at my credit card receipts, I’ve noticed that my number one expense is books. And that’s fine. I love learning; I love being inside someone else’s mind and seeing through their eyes – especially if they’re bright and insightful. Thank God for Kindle, because now I can stash my to-read list electronically instead of gathering dust on shelves. I only regret that I can’t pass on favorite books to friends & family – but that may be okay, too, as now I buy them a copy for themselves, and that helps my favorite authors.
    Again, thank you for sharing this. It’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Jennifer,
      As I was writing this post in my head, it came to me that my intention, when I bought my first Kindle, was to have the ability to carry all of my books, everywhere, all of the time, and, like you, I’ve not been disappointed. The only reason I waited six months to buy the first one was I didn’t realize I could highlight and make notes in them. Once I figured that out there’s been no stopping me (that means we have another thing in common – our “number one expense”).
      Check out Javier’s blog – Letters to My Daughters – you’ll love it.
      Bert

  2. Jo VonBargen
    Twitter:
    says:

    I so agree, Bert! Javier is a writer of the first order and then some. I’ve read his blogs myself; he is indeed insightful and a delight to read! I’ll be getting THE GAZE to read soon. I think you know that anything you or Christina recommend I’ll break my neck to get. You’ve never steered me wrong, my friend!!

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Jo,
      I light up when I see a comment or a tweet or an email from you. You’re the best, my friend.
      I just got an email from Javier. He was surprised and touched by the blog. Today’s is his daughter, Kendra’s eighth birthday, so he said he would always remember the blog.
      Wait until you review The Gaze – that will be MEMORABLE.
      Bert

  3. Gracious, kind and most of all, truthful points. Thank you for sharing your insights, as I am sure they will be useful to many. Just so you know, Javier will not let you down in the second half of The Gaze. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I read it. I have since passed it along as well.
    Christina Fifield-Winn recently posted…Javier Robayo (author of THE GAZE) steps in to review PGB: "SHE"S DONE IT AGAIN!"My Profile

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Christina,
      Thanks for your comment – I had an idea that Javier was in until the end. He is definitely a player. Writing a novel is major work. I’ve read way too many books lately that ran out of steam at the end.
      Have a great weekend.
      Bert

  4. Monica La Porta
    Twitter:
    says:

    Bert, thank you for writing this post. The self-publishing world is populated by great people and your words are the confirmation of that. I am a fan of Javier’s work and I agree 100% he deserves all the praises and so much more.
    Monica La Porta recently posted…Friday Snippet #5My Profile

  5. Javier Robayo
    Twitter:
    says:

    Aside of a heartfelt thank you to Bert, and everyone who commented, I will tell you that nothing has given more determination to write to the very best of my ability than this wonderful blog. Thank you for allowing me to feel a measure of success I could have never foreseen. I’m forever grateful.

    • Bert
      Twitter:
      says:

      Javier,
      You are a master scribe. It is my joy to number you among my friends.
      Thanks for taking the time from Kendra’s birthday celebration to comment.
      Yours to count on,
      Bert

  6. I agree. The way books sell is person to person. Person to person is certainly the way churches grow, which is a subject that I know a bit about. We come to a certain book because someone has been there before us, and we trust what they say. After a year of intense observation of self-published works, I notice that almost everyone is extremely tolerant of typos and grammatical lapses. This still puzzles me, on the one hand, and I am slowly getting feedback that my first novel greeted the world with 38 undetected typos, mostly adding or dropping single letters. Since I have a long way to go, I am resolving to enjoy the ride a lot more than I have been. Re: your recommendation. I certainly will click through to see what I think.
    Jon Rieley-Goddard recently posted…Capital crimes – big letters of the lawMy Profile

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