Author Topic: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.  (Read 1242 times)  

Offline Kristen Tsetsi

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Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« on: December 17, 2017, 06:21:31 AM »
[I've edited the thread title and the post for clarity]

Instead, I'll go by whether the book is recommended and just open the cover and start blind.

Last night, I was reading a novel whose blurb I'm sure I must have read at some point, but forgot. I got to a scene so powerful that I almost didn't know what to do. Keep reading? Put down the book and feel the things I was feeling in some weird display of respect for the characters and what they were going through?

While I was sitting there wondering whether I was going to cry, I got curious and read the blurb.

If I had read that description just prior to opening the book, what I was so affected by wouldn't have had remotely the same impact. I'd have been prepared. I'd have been waiting for it. When it happened, instead of having all those crazy feelings, I'd have thought, "Ah, yup. There it is."

Do you always read blurbs, or have you ever had something similar happen?
« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 12:54:31 PM by Kristen Tsetsi »
           

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD is engaging and unsettling. I've never read anything like it." - James C. Moore, NYT best selling author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD tempts us into a conversation that we've not had with spouses, friends, or acquaintances." - Elizabeth Marro, author of Casualties

Online Atunah

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Re: Back cover synopsis - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2017, 08:29:33 AM »
Do you mean the blurb? I read pretty much only ebooks and there is no back cover on those.  :P

I do tend to read the blurb often as I know what I like and don't like and so its important to know what the book is about before I start reading. At least in a very slight way.
Not always though, if other vetting is sufficient.  I often already own books and pick them by the blurb as my next read as I am a mood reader so need to be in the mood for certain books. So most of the times its an after thing to remind me why I have the book in the first place. I rarely read books I buy right away, often there are years in between.

None of that would ever prevent coming across powerful scenes though. Blurbs don't tell me about those anyway, that comes from the writing. The impact of what I read doesn't happen in the blurb, at least on the books I read.

Are you saying that you get big spoilers on the back covers? What is the equivalent of the back cover in ebooks? I guess there isn't one really. I assume that is all in the blurb somewhere. But no, never gotten spoiled there that I can think off, or had any scenes diminished.

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Offline Kristen Tsetsi

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Re: Back cover synopsis - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2017, 09:36:38 AM »
Do you mean the blurb? I read pretty much only ebooks and there is no back cover on those.  :P

I do tend to read the blurb often as I know what I like and don't like and so its important to know what the book is about before I start reading. At least in a very slight way.
Not always though, if other vetting is sufficient.  I often already own books and pick them by the blurb as my next read as I am a mood reader so need to be in the mood for certain books. So most of the times its an after thing to remind me why I have the book in the first place. I rarely read books I buy right away, often there are years in between.

None of that would ever prevent coming across powerful scenes though. Blurbs don't tell me about those anyway, that comes from the writing. The impact of what I read doesn't happen in the blurb, at least on the books I read.

Are you saying that you get big spoilers on the back covers? What is the equivalent of the back cover in ebooks? I guess there isn't one really. I assume that is all in the blurb somewhere. But no, never gotten spoiled there that I can think off, or had any scenes diminished.

You're right, I should have said "blurb." (When I hear "blurb," I think of the endorsement writers get "known" writers to say about their books.)

And not spoilers, necessarily - not something that gives away the ending, but definitely enough information to dull the effects of a moment that would otherwise be surprising.

« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 12:55:12 PM by Kristen Tsetsi »
           

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD is engaging and unsettling. I've never read anything like it." - James C. Moore, NYT best selling author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD tempts us into a conversation that we've not had with spouses, friends, or acquaintances." - Elizabeth Marro, author of Casualties

Offline Jim Johnson

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 08:44:58 AM »
The blurb's the first thing I read for ebooks before deciding to download the sample chapters or borrow it off KU. Cover and title don't mean much to me--I want to know what sort of story the book is about before cracking the cover.

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 09:10:56 AM »
I read blurbs, but I don't trust them, as they are typically marketing text to get you to buy the book. In any case, I'm not sure I recall a situation where reading a blurb prepared me for any emotional impact -- though they definitely don't prepare me for a disappointing lack of any such impact. ;)

(On the other hand, poorly written blurbs -- especially on self-published e-books -- are a warning sign to me that I should probably just move on to something else.)

Offline ellenoc

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 09:33:30 AM »
I always read blurbs and often read sample chapters, although in my experience sample chapters are often misleading. A sample may indicate good writing and premise, but books often fall apart after that first 10%.

If a blurb ever spoiled a book for me, I can't remember. Reading a book blind is something I never did and can't imagine doing. Back in paper-only bookstore days I always read the flyleaf or cover description and some of the beginning, something with dialog in the middle, and the end. (Always reading endings was something I started after Gone With The Wind and kept up until I couldn't do it any more with ebooks.)*

Blurbs that describe the plot pretty much scene by scene do stop me from investigating further, but in my mind that's usually a sign of a poor writer, at least for indie books where it's the writer who did the blurb. The way those blurbs are written is always a turn-off in itself as much as why read the book when you already know the plot in detail.

Like Jim, I'm not much affected by covers. Occasionally a title will be so intriguing I'll investigate, but the blurb is what either hooks me or sends me elsewhere. Unlike Atunah, I've never found anyone whose tastes so much align with mine that I'd read a book on recommendation without my own investigation.

* Added to clarify: When I first started reading ebooks, there was no KU and I've never been much for hunting freebies, so reading endings would have meant buying the book and reading the ending first at that point when it could no longer help me make a decision.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 09:38:21 AM by ellenoc »

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 09:51:11 AM »
The only book I can ever remember that happening to me was Outlander. The description/blurb would not have prepared me for it, although the friend that loaned me the book did say something about it being very powerful. There were several times when I was affected so much that I had to put the book down and walk away. A fantastic read and up until the TV series, I read once a year or so.

So, unless a blurb said, warning, page 157 has a scene that may affect you emotionally, I don't think reading it or not reading it is going to make any difference. I expect a well-written book with a good storyline and characters to engage my emotions. Otherwise, why would I read anything at all?


« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 09:53:27 AM by Gertie Kindle 'a/k/a Margaret Lake' »


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Offline Kristen Tsetsi

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2017, 03:58:29 AM »
The book I'm talking about was published by a traditional press, and the author was disappointed by how they wrote the blurb because of what it gave away.

It's probably true that most blurbs don't give too much away, but here's what I mean (and I'll change details to protect the book):

Let's say the writer wants readers to feel the same shock a character feels in order to make it as true as possible to what a real person in that situation would feel. For example: a man learns suddenly that his son just died in a plane crash, and he is of course surprised by this news. Unprepared. He feels a host of other things because, maybe, of the last conversation he had with his son.

If the blurb gives away that the son dies (not how, but just that he does), readers who've read the blurb can absolutely not be surprised by the death, so there's no way they can feel what the author intended them to feel, and as they move forward through the story.

But if the blurb gives no hint of the death, the reader can feel (as closely as possible) everything the character feels, and as the character moves forward, that feeling sticks, and with everything the character does, that feeling is remembered. You know it's hanging over them, because you felt it, too.

But if you never get the chance to feel it - because there's no way to fake surprise; if you know they're going to die, you know it, period - then the whole effect of the story is changed.

I think it's both the writer and the reader in me who's still frustrated by the publisher's choice to include that information. If I were the writer, I'd have been devastated because I'd have really wanted that experience to be pure for the reader, and everything I'd have written up to that moment would have been intentional. And as the reader, I was shocked by the moment in a way I couldn't possibly have been had I read the blurb, and that shock (to me) felt critical to how I read the rest of the book.

           

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD is engaging and unsettling. I've never read anything like it." - James C. Moore, NYT best selling author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD tempts us into a conversation that we've not had with spouses, friends, or acquaintances." - Elizabeth Marro, author of Casualties

Offline Nikolas TorVald

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2018, 11:39:12 AM »
I read the blurbs and usually use them, along with other vetting, to decide if I want to buy a certain book. A poorly written blurb will instantly turn me off to a book but a well written one doesn't make me think the book will be good, it just makes me willing to read it.

And no, I've never had something spoiled for me by a blurb.

Offline Dennis E. Taylor

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2018, 07:34:23 PM »
The problem, of course, is that the blurb is designed to get you to read the book. That's the whole point. So it has to spill the plot arc at least a little bit.

Offline Kristen Tsetsi

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2018, 06:38:10 AM »
The problem, of course, is that the blurb is designed to get you to read the book. That's the whole point. So it has to spill the plot arc at least a little bit.


Oh, of course. I understand that. But if a writer goes to great lengths to create a specific reaction to something, and that reaction counts on emotional surprise, when the element of surprise is killed in the blurb it not only squashes all that careful work, but it takes the reader down a different path for the rest of the novel (path 1: being as schocked as the character, and moving forward with that reaction in mind; path 2: already knowing it was coming and completely missing out on that experience).
           

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD is engaging and unsettling. I've never read anything like it." - James C. Moore, NYT best selling author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD tempts us into a conversation that we've not had with spouses, friends, or acquaintances." - Elizabeth Marro, author of Casualties

Offline srobards

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2018, 06:34:55 PM »
I would never buy a book without reading the backcover or description on a book sales page.

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Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2018, 07:57:52 PM »
I'll admit I over prepare for books. My time is limited, and I often spoil the details of the book by looking at not only the blurb but also the reviews (including spoilers many times). There are rare surprises where by the time I'm reading the book, I've forgotten all about its blurb and reviews. However, that's really, really rare. It's more likely to happen going to the theater to watch a movie than it is when I'm reading a book.

Offline Kristen Tsetsi

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2018, 07:25:30 AM »
I'll admit I over prepare for books. My time is limited, and I often spoil the details of the book by looking at not only the blurb but also the reviews (including spoilers many times). There are rare surprises where by the time I'm reading the book, I've forgotten all about its blurb and reviews. However, that's really, really rare. It's more likely to happen going to the theater to watch a movie than it is when I'm reading a book.

Why on earth would you do this to yourself? All that time spent reading about any number of books could just as easily be spent being surprised by one. You make me think of Harry in When Harry Met Sally, who opens a book to the last page first. :)
           

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD is engaging and unsettling. I've never read anything like it." - James C. Moore, NYT best selling author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

"THE AGE OF THE CHILD tempts us into a conversation that we've not had with spouses, friends, or acquaintances." - Elizabeth Marro, author of Casualties

Offline Rex Jameson

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2018, 11:05:03 PM »
Why on earth would you do this to yourself? All that time spent reading about any number of books could just as easily be spent being surprised by one. You make me think of Harry in When Harry Met Sally, who opens a book to the last page first. :)

Hah! It drives my wife nuts, that's for sure! We're definitely a Harry Met Sally kind of couple! I'm the scientist and analytical, and she's the complete opposite--which works well for us :D!

Offline TwistedWisteria

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2018, 07:29:21 AM »
I always read blurbs. They are an excellent indication of how well written a book is likely to be, as well as giving you an idea (or at least it should) of the main thrust of the story without giving away the plot. I always read them regardless of whether it is for an ebook or a physical book too.

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Offline MLPMom

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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2018, 11:06:03 AM »
I've found that sometimes blurbs give too much away, especially in books with series. I don't want to know everything that's going to happen before I read it. I know I read all the synopsis before I purchase a book but I rarely read them anymore before I start them.
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Re: Book blurbs - I'm never reading one again.
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2018, 06:13:56 PM »
I make a point not to read book descriptions closely because they too often give away the plot. (For the same reason, I don't read introductions to classic novels till after I've read the book.)
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