First some vaguely related but blatant self-promotion: I’ve just found out that A Most Lamentable Comedy‘s release has been pushed back to July 23 which is great news because I’ll be a beach read and possibly sign at the 2009 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing in Washington, DC, July 15.

I’ve been trying to figure out what makes me buy a book and looking back over my buying/reading habits. The last two books I bought were at Heathrow Airport by two tried and true authors, Kate Atkinson and Nicci French (mystery/suspense writers) and not yet available in paperback here. There was a bookstore promotion of 50% off the second book and I had cash to use up.

So I don’t think that really counts. Besides, the real question is why you would take a chance with squandering your hard-earned cash on a writer or book you don’t really know anything about.

Do you think reviews, official and reader comments on such sites as Goodreads help?

Yet another lack luster Regency romance. I don’t know why I persist in reading these.

Awesomely funny book. Fast read, but so enjoyable.

Uh, probably not. Yes, they are talking about the same book (The Rules of Gentility).

Friends’ recommendations? My major going to bookstore and drinking cups of coffee friend and I have polar opposites in reading tastes– so far we agree only on a few, and even fewer that I have recommended. So far our only 100% agreement is Naomi Novik, my recommendation after she and her husband had read all of Patrick O’Brien’s books.

Back cover blurbs? Maybe…

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.

Yes, I’m cheating. That was a one-sentence summary of The Wizard of Oz, created, with his tongue firmly in cheek, by Rick Polito of the Marin Independent Journal, according to this movie trivia page.

Covers? Oh lord no. Just try doing a google image search on bad romance covers and see what you come up with. (Does the one on the right remind you of an old-fashioned butcher’s shop? I had trouble even defining what part of the male anatomy it was).

I’m somewhat influenced by cover quotes from other writers and also by those helpful signs on Amazon, and in bookstores and libraries of If you liked this… although sometimes I find them wildly off mark.

My suspicion is that we’re manipulated far more by website and distributors than we really like to think. How many times have you wandered into a bookstore thinking you might possibly just buy one book and then find yourself leaving with an armful? Or cranked up your Amazon order to meet the free shipping amount?

What do you think? And share with us the last new author or book you took a chance on, and, if you can, why you did.