The Path to Buying a Book

One of the things I learned from interface design is that a good designer / marketer has to know the common path that the user takes when first encountering the product.

Sites like Amazon make it easier for a user to peruse a book in the same way that he might in a bookstore. So the gap is narrowing in the user experience online and in the brick and mortar store.

The path to buying a book in a bookstore looks like this:

  1. See cover
  2. Read title.
  3. Read synopsis / back cover / inside flap.
  4. Read inside at random.
  5. Check out price/shipping.
  6. Buy (or put down) book.

Perhaps you don’t buy books this way—in fact, many people won’t get past step 1—but the process is probably not any longer than the above 6 steps. You might want to do your own market research: play spy and hang out in your local bookstore in the section of your genre. See what books the readers pick up. Are they picking up books that look like the ones you would pick up? Do you think they are attracted to the title, to the cover, to the author, or all three?

The path to buying a book online differs in only two areas (see #5, #6):

  1. See cover
  2. Read title.
  3. Read synopsis / back cover / inside flap.
  4. Read inside at random.
  5. Compare to other books.
  6. Read online reviews.
  7. Check out price/shipping.
  8. Buy book or leave page.

You might argue that some people might do similar comparative shopping in a bookstore, however, the one thing that publishers and authors should be aware of is that the reader has access to more books and information on those books than ever before. In inverse proportion, the reader has an ever shorter attention span, thanks to the internet (I think it is down to 2 seconds for a website page). It is ever more important that we design great book covers, brainstorm the best titles, design a great website, and write the best copy for our books than ever before.

Copyright Aliyah Marr


Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird
and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

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