Monday, May 25, 2009

Which blurbs are more valuable

The other day Tess Gerritsen noted a discussion-disagreement about the impact of the internet on book sales. In the course of the general back and forth the subject of blurbs came up--are blog blurbs all that helpful to publishers? This started when two Avon editors politely stated their opinion that, as of right now, newspaper/magazine blurbs are better and NY Times bestseller endorsement are best of all. Many writers and readers wrote in (apparently-I haven't read the source material) to complain that the Avon editors were behind the times etc and that a lot of readers use internet reviews as a shopping guide.

Tess then pointed that internet sales of her bestsellers amount to about three per cent of the sales. And the Avon editors talk about packaging and distribution as keys to sales, neither of which involve the internet per se. These factors are still what drive book sales.

I buy seventy per cent of my books on line. And I do use reviews as a shopping guide of sorts. But usually I buy books recommended by reviewers I'm familiar with and trust. As for general I have to agree with the editors. I'm more impressed by a newspaper review quote than I am by an internet quote--with a few exceptions. The internet is pretty incestuous and I'm certainly a part of that process. But if I see a blurb from a site not on my list of preferred blogs, I tend to be skeptical about it.

There seemed to be a lot of hurt feelings, even anger in some of the responses to the editor. I think Tess did a fine job of looking at both sides and stating her (very reasonable) opinion.

What's your take on all this?


Martin Edwards said...

Perhaps it doesn't matter so much where the quote/blurb comes from (internet or print media) but rather who gives it, and how credible their judgment is?

Todd Mason said...

Yes. And that the overrating of the importance of online networking to sales of books is comparable to the overrating of careerist networking at conventions was a decade back. Or so I suspect.