A Year Of Book Buying in Review: Did Social Media Influence My Choices?

What does a year say? Today I was reading Janice Hardy's blog about having too many Twitter followers (and I agree, go read it. It's a great article.) But she linked to an older post by The Intern on author social media presence and if it makes a difference. Does all that tweeting/blogging/spinning plates in the air really effect book sales? 

I've talked about the topic before from my own perspective as an author. However, I thought it would be interesting to look at my own book buying habits as a READER over the past year to see if all that social media book buzz made me buy books. 

*Now, the caveat here is that since I am in this industry, I am dialed in to social media and the world of authors, book bloggers, editors, and such. Readers like me are probably a very small segment of the book buying population. But I still thought it'd be interesting to look at my personal stats.

So here's a look at my 2012:



Number of ebooks (not including free) bought this year: 80

Number of print (not including free) bought this year: 23

Thoughts: Wow, I've definitely become an ebook junkie. But this is probably less about a preference for ebook than it is the sale factor. All those ebook sales get me. Plus, I get LOTS of free print books from conferences so I only have so much room.


How'd I find out about the books I acquired?


On Sale (not including free): 35

Discovered Online through someone other than the author (book blogger, twitter rec, etc.): 22

Free ebooks: 17

Favorite Authors/Auto-buys: 16

Heard About Online Directly From Author: 14

Random purchases: 5

Free print books: A lot, probably at least 50.


-On sale is clearly an effective strategy for me BUT there were a lot more sales I passed up. Often those sales were paired with an online mention/rec by a book blogger or someone I know. So the sale alone is often not enough.

-Yes, I discover most of the books I buy from online soures, BUT it's rarely directly from the author. It's more word of mouth via other authors, readers, and book bloggers.

-The authors who I bought based on directly hearing about their book from them are almost 100% people I've already built relationships with online. So they are friends. These were not purchases from random authors who I've never chatted with who just happened to put out a "buy my book!" tweet. That absolutely is white noise to me. I don't pay attention at all unless I already know the person.


Now, those are the books I've bought, what about the books I've actually READ?


Books discovered via online recommendation by someone other than the author: 17

Books by Favorite/Trusted Authors: 13

Books bought on Sale: 10

Books I heard about directly from the author: 4

Random: 2

Free ebooks: 0

Free print books: 2


-So even though books on sale got the most buys, they didn't get the most reads. Why is this important? Because a sale gets an author their first buy, but a read gets an author their NEXT buy. And the only FREE books I've read this year are two print books that I got at a conference. I've read 0 of the free ebooks I've downloaded.

-Online recs from book bloggers and online friends I trust clearly are effective for both what I purchase and what I read.

-Favorite authors get moved to the top of the pile for reading. I bought 16 of these and read 13. And the three that are unread are only unread because I just got them. So this is stil the strongest bought to read conversion.


Overall: So it looks like YES, my book buying is highly influenced by my online connections. It's the thing that most gets me to buy books because even the sales are discovered via social media. BUT I discover new books and authors through other people not through the author herself. The only books I've bought directly from my connection with the author are people I'd already developed a friendly relationship with.

So what does this mean for authors on social media? 

In my opinion, it means that you should focus on building genuine friendships with people. Trying to sell your books directly to your followers is probably not going to be very effective. But if you build real relationships with people, entertain and help with your blog/tweets/etc., then maybe those people who have gotten to know you will be the people to spread the word on your behalf. And THAT buzz is what actually gets me, as a reader, to buy...and probably many other people as well. But also realize that many, many readers are never going to dial into the online book community, so it's still a small lake in a big ocean. So don't kill yourself trying to be the social media master. Do what you can and write more books.


What are your thoughts? Where do you find out about the books you buy? What's your biggest book buying influence?

Ebook or Print: When Do You Buy One Over the Other?

Photo by welcometolearn via Flickr CCSo yesterday Agent Sara put the question out to Twitter about book buying habits, and I briefly butted in on her convo with Miranda Kenneally. Miranda had said she buys print because she loves to put books on her shelves but buys ebooks when impatient. And that got me to thinking what makes me buy one over the other for a particular book.

I'm a reading omnivore both in genre and method. I have a Kindle Fire and love it. I also have a wall of bookshelves in my office that are so packed with print books that I have books stacked on the floor and stuffed around other places in my house. So I don't necessarily favor one over the other.

But then why do I buy book A in print but book B in ebook? Here are some of my reasons. But I'm really curious to hear yours, so I'd love for y'all to let me know in the comments.

When I Buy Ebook:

  • If it's a new to me author, I'll usually try them first in ebook IF the ebook is cheaper than the print.

This is an untested author. I don't have room on my shelves for books I'm not going to want to keep. Plus, I'm going to risk less money on an author I haven't tried before.


  • If the book is probably something I'm only going to read once.

This is not saying anything bad about the book. There are just some that are a great ride but not ones I need to go back to necessarily.


  • I'm a sucker for Daily Deal ebook sales, so I buy the crap out of those.

I'm a girl. I'm an obsessive reader. The ability to resist a sale, especially on books, is against my genetic makeup. Of course, I do this selectively. I only purchase ones I truly think I'll read or that come recommended.


  • If a book is only available in hardback, and I don't want to wait for the paperback to come out.

I don't read hardbacks. It's not even about the price so much as the bulkiness. I don't have room and they're not as easy to tote around.


  • If the book is only available in ebook, obviously that's the version I'm buying.

This happens a lot, particularly in my genre. There are so many fantastic digital first publishers out there, plus there's lots of great stuff available in the indie market these days.


When I Buy Print:

  • If it's an auto-buy author, who I already love. I'm buying the print, often pre-ordering so that it arrives the day it release.

This is a good risk. They've proven that I like their writing. And for books I love, I want a print copy so I can go back to and read again or reference. This is especially true if it's in my own genre because I like to "study" what other authors do well and why that story worked.


  • If the cover is gorgeous.

So I can pet it and stare. Duh.


  • If it's a series I plan to stick with.

I've even been known to buy an ebook version, fall in love and then buy the print as well so that I can start buying the series to keep on my shelf.


  • If it's non-fiction.

Unless it's a memoir or something, I want to be able to use it as a reference, to be able to flip forward and back with ease, etc. All of my writing craft books are bought in print.


  • If the book is LOOOONG, I'm torn.

For some reason, I like seeing progress in a long book that isn't just a percentage on my e-reader. I remember reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander on my old Kindle and I loved the book, but I remember it feeling longer because of reading on the device. I felt like I was running and not getting anywhere. BUT I've heard the newest e-readers give you more info about time wise how much longer you have, that'd be nice. On the flipside, buying a giant book in print is a pain in the ass because you have to carry this brick around and if it's paperback, it's harder to hold open when it's so thick. 

As for the reading experience...

I love a paper book--the feel of it and such. However, more and more I find myself attracted the convenience of e-reading, especially now that I have an I-phone and can pick up where I left off in a book when I find myself stuck somewhere out and about with nothing to do. So honestly, in my ideal world, there'd be a set up to where you could buy the print and add on the ebook for a dollar or something so that I can read it in print at home but have access to it if I'm on the go or traveling somewhere. Maybe one day that will happen...

But in the meantime, those are some of my convoluted reasons for purchasing one or the other. But regardless of why or when, one thing is for sure. Since I've bought an e-reader, I buy more books overall. I basically haven't changed my print buying at all--I always purchased a lot, but I've added in the ebook buying. So it's probably twice as many books as I used to buy. :)

Now it's your turn: Tell me why you buy an ebook or a print book for a particular story. What makes you pick one over the other? Are there situations where you prefer one format but other times where you prefer the opposite? I want to know! :)