Find Out What Makes the Bookstr Team Want to Pick up a Book and Read

The Bookstr Team’s at the bookstore again. Find out how we decide what makes it onto our shelves and why.

Book Culture Bookish Lifestyle Opinions
Young woman in front of a bookshelf and a speech bubble with an elipsis hovering next to her head.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes that’s enough to trap a reader hook, line, and sinker. Other times, it’s the blurb on the back. Perhaps it’s a familiar author. Or maybe it’s the book’s genre. All ever-growing TBRs are the result of that one thing, or checklist of things, that gets us to pick up a book and read. Find out what that checklist is for members of the Bookstr team.

Definitely the Book Cover

The whole “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has got to be the one rule that is mostly ignored by bookworms such as myself. Covers are practically the first impression to me, and I want authors to make me double back on them because I saw them in the far corner on a shelf. Of course, I know there are extraordinary books that don’t have mind-blowing covers to display their work, but as an artistic person, I can’t help but feel drawn to the art that hints at what the book could be about.

Different books arranged diagonally across a white marble table.

Browsing novels in a bookstore became a hobby of mine as it helped me develop an understanding of genre art, typography, and the ability to capture one’s focus with a single glance. Those factors are what I apply here to the graphics of Bookstr as well as my own personal art.

Jaiden Cruz, Graphics

The Vibes and Aesthetics

A pearl and crystal encrusted silver crown placed on a textured white surface and against a white background.

I think my selection process is based on a couple of things. The cover is definitely the first thing that pulls me in. I wouldn’t say I’m picky about what’s on the cover, but I definitely appreciate a beautiful color scheme and simple design (especially if it’s related to royalty: crowns, daggers, shoes, etc.) But the synopsis is what truly sells me, so it definitely needs to set up the story inside in a compelling way. And again, I’m usually sold if there’s some sort of royal element mentioned.

Ashley Lewis, Editorial and Social

The Author and the Blurb

A blond middle-aged woman reading the back of a book in a blurred out setting filled with bookshelves.

One of the initial things that attracts me to a book is definitely the author. I tend to gravitate toward authors whose books I have read and enjoyed before, or authors I’ve heard positive things about, when choosing a new book to read. However, what really sells me is the blurb. If the blurb is compelling and ticks off some of my favorite tropes or themes, then I’m willing to give it a chance. As much as I love a pretty book cover, I never buy a book without knowing at least a little bit about the book’s content.

Lauren Nee, Editorial

The Title

A stack of vertically stored books with colorful spines.

At bookstores, the first thing I usually see is the spine, and usually only the title and author name are on there. It’s also what I notice first when shopping online. If the title isn’t interesting, it won’t capture my attention, and I won’t read it. I probably miss some good books by doing this, since I don’t even pick up books that have boring titles. But I think titles should be just as captivating as everything else.

Danielle Tomlinson, Editorial

Book Cover and Genre

Because I am a graphic designer now, I choose books based on the book cover. It has to really catch your eye from across the room. Also, color psychology plays a role, so, how do I feel when I see the book cover? Is it a beautiful illustration? Is it a photo? Does it have beautiful fonts? Does the cover make you think and wonder what the book entails?

Five piles of stacked hardcover books.

It depends on the genre too. I usually stick with genres of my choice, which are typically romance, manga, and sometimes crime and thrillers. If it shows that it’s not about that, I probably won’t choose it. The book cover has to be clear on what kind of book it is just from the cover alone.

Talya Golian, Graphics

The Book Cover and the First Few Pages

While I may not necessarily be able to tell if I will like the book from the book cover, I will usually be able to tell if I won’t like it from its cover. I prefer realism in the books that I read, so anything that tries too hard to look too mystical and dramatic, I have a feeling that I will not like it. I usually like a simple cover that is straightforward and maybe a little cute. I’ll also have to cross- reference to see if there is a straightforward title. I don’t need frills; I just want to get to the point with a grounded story.

An open book with pages in motion on a bright white background.

In addition, I’m never going to just pick up a book, look at the back and buy it. Even if the back reveals the plot, that still feels like too much of a gamble (unless it’s a series I have already started). If it is a fresh, new book, I need to look into the story a little bit to see if it holds my attention. Sometimes, I will look at the plot, but then when I read the first few pages, I will either immediately become bored or be interested. If I read one or two chapters and I am super curious about what happens next, then that means I have found a book that I want to buy.

Buying a book is an important decision; you need to be absolutely sure that it’s worth your time and money.

Rachel Rosenfield, Editorial

Publisher Description of Book

A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal book cover against a dimly lit set of bookshelves.

I like to think of these as a kind of sales pitch to readers, and honestly, whenever I read these descriptions, I look for things that are exciting, familiar, and, on the flip side, unique, too! For example, A Tempest of Tea by Hafsah Faizal was described as something like the show Peaky Blinders, with mentions of a heist and vampires! I love Peaky Blinders. Mix that with a combination I’ve never read about before, with vampires, a heist, and tea? I was immediately hooked and pre-ordered right away.

Bernardine Landicho, Editorial

The Cover Gets Me in the Door, the Blurb Makes Me Want To Read, the First Words Keep Me Reading

A set of white rustic bookshelves with a blond woman in a beige t-shirt and blue jeans storing a book into the shelves.

As most book lovers will tell you, a nice, shiny cover certainly piques our interest. When the cover looks fun, fantastically adventurous, or delectably mysterious, I’m definitely grabbing for it. But it’s when I get to the blurb that it’s make-or-break time. A solid description will entice me more because I want to know if what the book is about matches the cover in some way. The cover tells a piece of the story that draws me in, and the blurb fills in more blanks for me. Once the blurb gets me going, I’m checking the first page to see if the book holds my attention longer. If even those first couple of sentences can’t capture my interest, then back to the shelf it goes.

Quiarah B/Vphan, Editorial

The First Chapter

I tend to reach the first chapter of almost any book, and that is usually when I make the decision on whether I will be reading any more or calling it a day. I have been shamed for doing this because I am supposed to read a few chapters of some books to get to that hook moment. It is kind of like watching the first episode of a show; you have to give it a few episodes to get used to the character dynamics and overall storyline. But I can’t help it! If a book is making me snooze after one chapter, it probably won’t be added to my reading list.

The Hunger Games by Suzanna Collins book cover image with a yellow border, against a set of blurred out bookshelves.

Spoiler alert: This section contains a spoiler from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games book.

The perfect example is when I first read The Hunger Games. That book had me obsessed from the first chapter. On the last page, it is revealed that Primrose, Katniss’ sister, will be the female tribute for the Hunger Games. When I tell you, the GASP eight-year-old Erin had when she read that twist in the first chapter! This is the content I look for. I need to be hooked from the very beginning, or else I will probably pass.

Erin Ewald, Editorial

The Reviews

Close-up of a man's hands holding and tapping a phone, with the man's tapping finger emitting light, while a graphic of five yellow stars appears on top of the phone. A desk with a laptop is seen below.

I’m a picky reader; I like to know that I’m not going to waste my time when choosing a read. Therefore, looking to YouTubers I trust or checking Goodreads reviews is how I gauge whether a book is worth it. Just because a book is good doesn’t mean it’s for me, and I like to make sure of that. As controversial as it may be, I’m not averse to spoilers. I want to be aware of any non-negotiables ahead of time, and I want to know what to look forward to. It’s like a business transaction. Does the story include romance? Tell me more. There’s an insufferable love triangle? Not for me. There’s no love triangle, there are no casualties, and they’re childhood friends-turned-enemies-turned-lovers? Sold!

Gabriela Collazo, Editorial

If we’re going to spend the next 13+ hours binging-reading a book, we want to enjoy the company. Which is why a comprehensive list of pros and cons often goes into a bookworm’s selection process. That, and limited shelf space. But let’s face it, a dazzling book cover is often irresistible. So, if we’re lucky, our instincts will steer us toward a good cover buy from time to time.

Check in with Bookstr Team and their 2024 reading goals here!

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