Sunday, July 10, 2005

So I have a new hardcover (BLOODY MARY) and a new paperback (WHISKEY SOUR) out, and the royalty numbers won't come in from my publisher for about five months, so the only way to measure my progress is to look at my Amazon numbers and guestimate my sales by mulitplying them by 10 (Amazon accounted for about ten percent of the sales for the Whiskey Sour hardcover, and I'm using that as my base.)

Amazon is supplied by the distributor Ingram, and Ingram can be called to get weekly sales updates. (For those who want to drive themselves crazy like I am, the automated number is 615-213-6803---you can punch in the ISBN of any book and see how it is selling.)

Two questions for you folks, and I'd really like to hear from you even if you've never replied to a blog before. I know I have lurkers; please delurk and post--it's easy, fun, and good for you.

Question #1. Do you buy books on Amazon, and if so, how often vs. other places you buy from?

Question #2. Do user reviews on Amazon influence your decision to buy or not buy?

Thanks so much!


Anonymous said...

I'm a cheap-o. I usually get books from the library. However, if I'm going to purchase a book it's usually for school purposes and I almost always look at Amazon to see the prices, etc. I bought a study aid book off Amazon last week because it was $15 cheaper than having a bookstore order it. As for the reviews, I take those with a grain of salt. There will always be good and bad ones on there. I'll maybe read the first few that are on the page. If I'm going to buy a book, I probably don't care too much for the reviews because I've already made that decision to buy. Hope this helps.

Hiding from Dennis the Menace in Tallahassee and yes I still have classes tomorrow :)

David J. Montgomery said...

When I buy books, it's almost exclusively via Amazon. I very seldom buy any from a B&M bookstore.

I do pay slight attention to reader reviews, if they're well written and seem knowledgable. I think this is mostly true for well thought out negative reviews. Their influence, though, is small.

Anonymous said...

While I occasionally cruise Amazon, trying not to be too obsessive about the pogo-stick nature of my books' rankings, I've yet to buy anything there.

I buy 'em where I find 'em physically, first choice an independent bookstore, but I'm not faithful. Yesterday I was at Costco and bought three books -- Michael Connelly's "The Closers," "The Mermaid's Chair" (for my wife, really), and "The Traveler" (mostly because, like the Da Vinci Code, it is already one of those touchpoint books that you need to have an opinion about).

Russel said...

#1 I buy books from Amazon every so often, but mostly books I just find impossible to get in this country and philosophy texts. The reason for this is I just don't find it worthwhile paying the P&P and don't generally spend £19 a pop to waive the charge. Of course, I work in a small bookstore so books that are easy to get in this country I just order up myself.

#2 User reviews never influence my decision. So many of them seem misinformed and either shill-like or plain malicious. I've also found with my own reviews that when you post a negative review of something, no matter if you feel its a well written response, people automatically say you weren't helpful. So in short, no, I don't listen to the amazon user reviews.

Anonymous said...

I buy about a third of my books from Amazon, usually non-fiction, a third from browsing in a chain (the only type of store in my area) and a third from independents via telephone or online.

If the Amazon review is well-written and coherent and doesn't say stuff like "This booke suxs the biig wun" then I might pay attention to it. When I hit Amazon it's usually for a specific book that I want to make sure to get. I rarely "browse" there. That's what bricks-and-sticks stores are for.


Anonymous said...

I buy 95% of my books from Amazon. For price. I won't pay full price for a book, when it will be at a minimum 20% off at Amazon.

The reviews NEVER affect whether or not I'll buy a book. I decide to buy a book based on reading the first few pages, and the story blurb. If it's an author I've read before, I just read the blurb.

I do however read the reviews AFTER I've read the book, and will add my own then. I'm always curious if others see it the way I did.

A key reason I don't read the reviews before though is because they too often have spoilers in them, and I don't want to be influenced.

Anonymous said...

#1 I never bought anything from Amazon, although I use the site to find out isbn numbers, compare prices, and read excerpts. Good bookstores are pretty inaccessible where I'm at so I tend to ask someone else to get me the books I want.

#2 Reviews from Amazon does not influence my buying habits because I'm often decided when I like a particular title and I only ask for reviews from people and friends I trust. Even then, if I really like the book, I'll still get it.

Right now, I'm a little bent to getting Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism because I like the cover and found the excerpt I've read in Amazon quite compelling.

Martha O'Connor said...

#1 I very rarely buy books from Amazon, though I browse there rather frequently. Normally, I buy from my local indie bookseller. I'm spoiled living in the Bay Area, where there are SO many good ones.

#2 I don't pay attention to Amazon reviews unless there are a huge array of bad ones, such as with Rebecca Wells's new book. That helped me decide to get the book from the library rather than to purchase it. I'll admit, though, that lately I'm going broke buying friends' books, so anything other than a book by a friend comes out of the library.

Anonymous said...

I do use for most of my purchases, mostly because the prices are better & I buy lots of books, cds, dvds each time I go. Needless to say, I have a book budget now & have to be careful, even on

Do I pay attention to reviews? Yes and no. If the review is obviously written by someone with little experience in writing reviews, or is illiterate, I disregard it. But I'll often read the more authoritative reviews (kirkus, LJ, etc.) and a few of the users reviews just for an idea of how people are reacting.

Anonymous said...

Since I'm a part-time bookseller,I check out the books on my store's website and usually hit Amazon for used or UK editions I can't find anywhere else.I'm also fortunate enough to see an ARC or two. Written reviews don't influence me as much as word of mouth opinions. I've read more than one book on the strength of a recommendation from a co-worker or friend, or because I've met the author. I've rarely been disappointed, and the ones that did disappoint me I put down to my own tastes, not necessarily the author's skill.
So. Don't use Amazon much for either purchases OR reviews.

Maryann (waiting for rain down here on the prairie)

Anonymous said...

I browse Amazon ALOT and use it for research and general time-killing but I have never ordered a book from there. I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan which has three Borders and a Barnes and Noble within 1 miles plus two independents that carry mysteries and many, many more used bookstores where I've mainly bought things.

Unknown said...

I buy most often from Amazon because there is only one independent bookstore in Austin and it's way the hell out of my way. I hate the big chain stores, so Amazon is the default choice.

I do an Olympic test on the Amazon reviews: throw out the highs and the lows and look for the well written ones in between.

But lately I've been buying books mostly by the authors of the blogs I discover. Whisky Sour arrived yesterday. It's next in line behind the interminable Dark Tower which I should finish shortly before I die of old age or the sun goes out.

Anonymous said...

I rarely buy books from amazon these days. Mostly around the holidays to avoid having to carry them home, so that's probably a good time to be pushing yourself there.

Anonymous said...

Probably about half of my book purchases come from Amazon, mostly when I'm looking for something specific. At the very least I'll check it for research and tag things in my wishlist that I may want to pick up later. Also, if I can't find something at a brick & mortar store I'll hit up Amazon.

Whenever possible, I prefer to buy from an independent bookstore, but most of the ones that used to be nearby have dried up since B&N and Borders hit the scene. Otherwise I'll hit Barnes & Noble.

Anonymous said...

I'm coming into this late, but...

I hate buying from Amazon and do whatever I can to find books elsewhere on the Net before I finally go there.

The reviews on Ammy I will look at only to see if Harriet is there. You just can't trust them. Any author would be an idiot not to have their family and friends load up some pos reviews.

Montgomery sucks for buying from Amazom.

Megan said...

1. Yes. We'll place an order when we qualify for free shipping. My shopping's maybe 40% Amazon, 40% brick and mortar, 20% other (Shocklines, Fictionwise, direct from the publisher, etc.) I never place an order at a brick and mortar store; if it's not on the shelf, I go directly to Amazon.

2. No. Many of the Amazon reviewers are semi-literate idiots, and many others confuse plot summaries for reviews. If I want a review, I'll go to a proper review source; if I want WOM, I'll listen to people whose taste I know and trust.

Anonymous said...


Lose the Ingram number. it is to writers what the "neat trick" of vomiting is to teenage girls.

yrs in recovery,

JA Konrath said...

"Lose the Ingram number. it is to writers what the "neat trick" of vomiting is to teenage girls."

Are you kidding? I called six times today, and found out I sold four books!

I'm shocked and appalled that's you'd compare a simple soothing mechanism to the tragedy that is teenage bulimia.

Vomiting food is a complete waste. All the cool kids are anorexic.

Anonymous said...


I rarely buy my read for pleasure books from amazon, although I have bought a few. I live in a small town, and if I'm out of books, and know what I want, I'll order from them. I never read the reviews. I like to read the back, and some of the inside. That's how I choose.

I just picked up your Whiskey Sour book yesterday from Barnes and Noble, so you can add to your count. I pulled it off the shelf because of the cover--bright. I've found that's an easy way to find humorous mysteries--the kind I like.

I remeber seeing your article in Writer's Digest about your process from sale to publication. I loved it. Now I have the book.

Check out my blog, and if you want a link, let me know. I'd be happy to list you under erudite writers.


Anonymous said...

I buy half and half, Amazon vs. anyone else. (Includes Borders, B&N and independents.) The nature of reviews don't sway me, but the number sometimes does.

Regarding Ingrams - I was told today that if your preorder number is over 300, you get a little notation in the Ingram catalog, which supposedly may make a boost in sales. Anyone know if this is true? (So I can either jump for joy, or shrug. Uh, not that I happen to know my preorder number as of 6:30 PM, not at all...)

Bob Farley said...

I buy from Amazon sometimes, but not often. I like to buy ebooks. They're cheap. Not as cheap as the ones at yard sales, though.

I'll go to Amazon and B&N to look at reviews for books, CDs, and DVDs.


Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

The reviews at Amazon do nothig for me. The only reviews that infuence me are from people I'm already aware of and know a bit about.

I don't buy many books on line preferring independant stores, but that's a whole other rant.

Plus it's easier to shoplift in brick and morter stores

Anonymous said...

I most often purchase from Amazon, usually ordering multiple books at the same time (to get the free shipping). [I have ordered from Barnes & Noble online, but only because of having a gift certificate.) I like Amazon, even if their prices are not as good as they used to be -- I can be pretty certain I will find what I want there, unlike physical bookstores. I sometimes am influenced by reader reviews at Amazon -- not always, but sometimes -- if I am not sure about a book but a reviewer who appears to have tastes similar to my own has a postive review, that might tip the balance to tossing it in my shopping cart if it is a paperback. (And I've just put a copy of Whiskey Sour in there -- which I did without bothering with the reviews because I liked the opening pages)

I will use those Amazon used book business partners for things like text books (I have kids in college & I take courses myself from time to time) or technical books.

There is no independent brick & mortar book store in my town, but I do sometimes shop the local Waldenbooks. It has employees who love books and like to talk about them. It was a clerk in that store a few years ago who prompted me to buy my first Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake novel and subsequently I purchased most of the rest of the series (although, sadly, the most recent books have become very weird and I may give up on them).

Anonymous said...

Amazon probably accounts for more than 60% of my book purchases (but that includes buying used copies via Amazon)

User Reviews can influence my decision if I'm on the fence about it. I try to take all reviews with a grain of salt rather than at face value.

Wesley Smith said...

I do occasionally buy through Amazon, but only if it's a book that I can't find elsewhere and it's substantially cheaper buying it that way than buying it locally. Like some others have mentioned, I have difficulty purchasing a book I haven't held in my hands.

Now, I do use Amazon for research. If I find a book in a bookstore that I'm not sure of, I'll check out Amazon to see what else the author has written, what the reviews say, etc, and then go back to the bookstore and pick it up.

The reviews that are the most important to me are the most negative ones. I always check out the 1-star reviews first. Those are sometimes the most rational and well-thought out, and they may point out a substantive reason to pass on the book. On the other hand, if I can get through the 1- and 2-star reviews and find that they couldn't point at one thing in particular, I'll usually end up getting the book.

Anonymous said...

I don't bother with Amazon reviews as most reviews with 1-3 stars are never published by Amazon.

Therefore Amazon reviews have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Scott Marlowe said...

I realize I'm late on answering this, but I'm perusing your blog and you did ask...

Question #1. Do you buy books on Amazon, and if so, how often vs. other places you buy from?

Yes, almost exclusively. It's just easier to get what I want, when I want it, without having to spend time browsing through a bookstore. I like the bargain section at B&N, though, so I occasion their store sometimes.

Question #2. Do user reviews on Amazon influence your decision to buy or not buy?

Yes, but only inasmuch as the general concensus is concerned. If 90% of the reviewers say the book is horrible, I steer clear. If there's a resounding positive, into my shopping cart. If its 50/50, I use my best judgement.

LK Hunsaker said...

Yes, I buy books from Amazon after looking first at my local Borders to see if what I want is in stock. Currently, these are the only two places I buy books. I used to be a member until I found they are not very supportive of indie authors. Borders, which is linked with Amazon, is very indie supportive (I'm self-published). My nearest independent book store is roughly 25 miles away in a city I rarely have need to enter.

I do look at the reviews, but they don't necessarily influence me unless I'm not sure about a book and they are well-written.