What would inspire you to pre-order a book?
April 21, 2017 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever pre-ordered(*) a book by an author whose books you didn't already own? If so, what made you do it? If not, are there things that might inspire you to do so?

(*)IE, purchased or reserved a book before its release date.
posted by yankeefog to Shopping (39 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, but because I knew them personally, either as a friend or colleague.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:06 AM on April 21, 2017 [6 favorites]

Same things that would inspire me to order any book by an author whose books I didn't already own: recommendation from someone I like; in a subgenre I particularly like; interesting blurb; written by someone who doesn't usually write books but does good work in other media...
posted by Etrigan at 9:08 AM on April 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yes, several times, for these example reasons:

- It was on a topic I'm deeply interested in but don't usually see much published about.

- The book was an anthology by members of a community I wanted to support and encourage.

- It was a Kickstarter and one of the options was to get a PDF copy of the book, so I felt OK with taking a gamble with a smaller amount of money rather than the larger price of a hardcopy book.

- The concept was so absurd/gonzo/unique that I *had* to see how it was explored.
posted by cadge at 9:11 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

This may be splitting hairs, but I have pre-ordered books by authors whose previous books I don't own but have read from the library. Aside from that, I've also pre-ordered a book from someone I know personally.
posted by Kriesa at 9:11 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't pre-order very often, but when I do, it's usually because it's something that looks interesting and I'm afraid I'll have forgotten about it by the time it finally is released. But that has also backfired on me -- I pre-ordered a book that was supposed to be released in 3 months or so (IIRC), the release apparently got pushed back, and by the time I finally got it MANY months later, not only had I forgotten about it, but I didn't care any more. So I'm pretty restrained with my pre-orders. I also have a private Amazon Wish List for stuff that I want to remember but am not interested enough in to actually pre-order it.
posted by primethyme at 9:16 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've pre-ordered books of artists that I've followed on social media for years. I figured they make my day better every day with their art, it only seems fair to compensate them in turn for their work.

Turns out I really like having the physical books as well.
posted by larthegreat at 9:17 AM on April 21, 2017 [8 favorites]

Yes, the same way that I buy books from authors I have never read. I'll preorder the book if it sounds interesting, if they're recommended, or if I want to know more about the subject matter.
posted by lydhre at 9:26 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Once because they utilized one of my photographs in the book and I was interested in the novelty of seeing my work in a printed book.
posted by mmascolino at 9:29 AM on April 21, 2017

Have on the strength of a recommendation from someone I trust, because it seemed relevant to something I was researching, or because I heard the author interviewed about it.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:31 AM on April 21, 2017

Very rarely, and in each case it's been someone who does interesting work in some other medium. Otherwise, I'll just wait to get something from the library, read it, and then decide if I need to own it.
posted by marginaliana at 9:31 AM on April 21, 2017

I pre-ordered from the first printing of About Trees by Katie Holton because it was a pretty unique project and it hit a lot of my buttons: trees, fonts, anthologies of nature writing, book design, and 'books as interesting physical objects' which is hard to define but I think you get the point. In general I simply like books and when a nice unique one that is relevant to my interests comes around I will pre-order them to be sure I get one that isn't the cheaper paperback edition.

I think I also pre-ordered Kenneth Goldsmith's Capital (again, a better-than-average binding, interesting 'book-as-object' and curiously, is also an anthology-type book on a single subject).
posted by gyusan at 9:33 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

A few times when I knew the author.

But I pre-order music at every opportunity to help ensure the album gets made, so that the artist gets more of the proceeds directly, and - most importantly - so when it arrives in my inbox I have already half-forgotten about it so it feels like getting a gift.
posted by headnsouth at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2017

Shea Serrano's twitter feed made a pretty good case for pre-ordering his book, even though I didn't read his other work.
posted by hepta at 9:47 AM on April 21, 2017

OK, so this is coming from another vector, but as a designer and art director, I'm going to shatter the hoary cliche: Don't judge a book by its cover.

Obviously, other factors are involved in someone ordering something from someone unknown. BUT, in the competitive world of grabbing eyeballs -- especially on Amazon, where dozens and dozens of small thumbnails are presented to the shopper -- a compelling or provocative cover is going to help garner attention. At least initially.

So my answer is more about what's happening on a subliminal level. But it's a potent level nonetheless.
posted by zenpop at 9:48 AM on April 21, 2017

I pre-ordered a book as part of a Kickstarter campaign. The fact that without my order, the book might not have been printed, made a difference.

I would also possibly pre-order a book if it wasn't that expensive and part of the appeal was the unknown nature of the contents. I, like many people, like surprises.

I might also do so if I thought it was an important book and I knew that my doing so would result in additional copies being distributed to other people who legitimately needed it.
posted by amtho at 9:58 AM on April 21, 2017

Have you ever pre-ordered(*) a book by an author whose books you didn't already own? No.
If not, are there things that might inspire you to do so? No. There are no authors or subjects I'm interested in enough to offer money to someone without a guarantee of delivery (that doesn't involve lawsuits).
posted by saeculorum at 10:00 AM on April 21, 2017

I preordered a book based on a Metafilter post (just yesterday!), so there's that.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:04 AM on April 21, 2017

Like others, I've pre-ordered books on kickstarter. Usually they're by authors from communities I want to support: people of color, and queer or trans people, for instance. These books are always a gamble, and they've ranged from very good through mediocre to quite bad.

I would pre-order a book if I knew the author, or if I was interested in them from their other work. A blogger or web comic writer, for instance.
posted by Orlop at 10:09 AM on April 21, 2017

Seconding Shea Serrano's twitter feed, which is delightful and makes me smile at least ten times a day. He has brilliantly framed preordering as a collective quest/game (to become a NYT bestseller-- I think his goal for his upcoming book is to hit #1), battle (against other books in the Amazon rankings, or booksellers who dare to still have copies in stock) or act of generosity (his followers buy multiple copies and ship them to strangers). Wouldn't be possible without his personality and sense of humor (and would feel really annoying/artificial coming from 99.99% of authors) but it's great. He's given a few interviews talking about how he sells books.
posted by acidic at 10:12 AM on April 21, 2017

There are some people whose recommendations I trust so completely that I would absolutely pre-order a book based on their say-so - they're mostly authors working in the same genre as most of the books they recommend.
posted by mskyle at 10:15 AM on April 21, 2017

I preordered Ada Palmer's debut novel simply because I enjoyed her posts about identifying saints so much, and wanted to throw money at her for writing it.

I'll kickstart anthologies from communities I want to support (generally, minority groups). I kickstart a lot of RPG rulebooks because, hey, 10-20$ for "you make your weird RPG idea a reality" is actually pretty cheap for (1) supporting the hobby (2) getting fodder for me to dissect its design and the choices made.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 10:17 AM on April 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I didn't realize this was an issue. My niece asked for a copy of Alex and Eliza: A Love Story since she loves Hamilton and this was recommended YA reading. I ordered it on Amazon and it said it wasn't going to be released until the following week, so this would be a pre-order. Ok. No big deal. She got the book a week later and loved it.

I never thought twice about the fact that it was a pre-order. I think I've done the same thing for the Harry Potter books in the past.

So I guess my answers are Yes, if it's a book that I (or someone in my family) really wants. Maybe also if the delivery date is not that far away??
posted by CathyG at 10:30 AM on April 21, 2017

Yes. I have ordered books because of the subject matter and the description of the book. I also add that the price was at a price point where if I did not like the book, it would not be gnawing at me that I had "wasted" any money.
posted by AugustWest at 10:39 AM on April 21, 2017

I think this is fairly common in the romance/erotica world, where readers have a high level of trust in certain sources of recommendations and are often looking for really specific subsubsubgenres and representations, and so will buy an author they haven't bought/heard of/read before based on recommendation, synopsis, or advanced reviews.

Obviously a lot of these are electronic-only and the pricepoints are often pretty modest, so it's not a huge deal to pre-order a book for $1-5 just on a recommendation.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2017

I very occasionally pre-order (or pre-reserve at the library if I can) a book that comes highly recommended on Smart Bitches Trashy Books and which hits my usual catnip criteria for romance novels. I trust the staff reviews based on ARCs to legit tell me if something is going to be worth it.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2017

Yes. I pre-ordered Sarah Gailey's novel because I follow her on Twitter, she seems cool, and the Kindle edition was $2.99. The book isn't out yet so I don't know if it was worth it but meh. Three bucks to support a new author whose persona I already enjoy? Fine.

So, a good social media presence and a low price are enough to ensnare me, I guess.
posted by Aquifer at 10:43 AM on April 21, 2017

I haven't pre-ordered a book by an author I'd never heard of in years because no matter how interesting the subject or blurb, a substantial number of my pre-ordered books have been duds. What used to entice me was a significant discount on the pre-order price and a guarantee that if he price dropped lower when shipping, I'd get the lower price as well. But it would have to be on a subject I was really, really interested in; otherwise, no dice.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:11 AM on April 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do this all the time -- usually on the basis of an enthusiastic pre-release review from another writer I really trust; or on the basis of liking the author's other non-book work (scholarship, a blog, an excerpt, etc.).
posted by willbaude at 11:11 AM on April 21, 2017

Do you mean like preordering on Kickstarter, or from Barnes & Noble online? I have done both but think it's pretty different. For something like a Kickstarter project, I basically think along the lines of what larthegreat wrote above. For the latter, usually if it's someone I know or know of in real life (like a cookbook from a favorite chef) or I've seen an outstanding review. I do sometimes see people launch promotions--get a free tote bag or poster or whatever if you show proof of preordering--but that hasn't ever enticed me to buy something I wasn't planning to get anyway, since I am too lazy to send in the proof.
posted by ferret branca at 12:10 PM on April 21, 2017

Thanks everybody-- those answers are very helpful. Please keep them coming!

Just to answer ferret branca's question, I was thinking of traditionally published books rather than Kickstarter. I do find the Kickstarter answers interesting, though, and they give me interesting insight into people's book-buying habits, so please feel free to keep those coming as well.
posted by yankeefog at 12:54 PM on April 21, 2017

I have preordered books when I don't own previous books by the same author when:

a) I read their blog or otherwise regularly follow the author in some capacity other than the books.

b) Most of my preordered books are craft-related (think quilting, knitting, etc). If the projects I can view look good or it's a technique I know I'm interested in or what have you, I may preorder the book.

Oftentimes a blog hop where I can preview some of the material will have an effect on my eventual decision to preorder a book.
posted by freezer cake at 12:57 PM on April 21, 2017

Same as freezer cake's point a, when I have been following their blog for long enough to love them.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:32 PM on April 21, 2017

I preordered Ada Palmer's first novel Too Like the Lightening based on a recommendation by Jo Walton, whom I admire greatly. I was not disappointed- it turned out to be one of the most interesting novels I have ever read!
posted by loveyhowell at 6:17 PM on April 21, 2017

For most books, I go by reviews or recommendations, and get the book from the library; sometimes I will then buy a copy for myself. But for a short list of authors whose work I admire, I will always pre-order, because I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to give the authors I really like some money for his/her work, instead of buying it cheap second-hand. Also, as I understand it, pre-ordering from Amazon can sometimes help the author in his/her negotiations with publishers, if enough people do it.

I always pre-order books from Thomas Perry, Tim Powers, Fergus Bordewich, Peter Hessler, Rian Malan, Martin Cruz Smith, Mary Roach, and Robert Charles Wilson. (And wish I could still do it from Donald E. Westlake.)
posted by kestralwing at 10:41 PM on April 21, 2017

I have two authors that I reliably read who have also come out/announced new works, so I ended up preordering out of unadulterated excitement. I've also preordered by way of Kickstarter; if I'm paying to help them meet the goal I might as well pay enough to get a copy later.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:01 AM on April 22, 2017

Thank you everybody. That is IMMENSELY helpful.
posted by yankeefog at 3:40 AM on April 22, 2017

I'm a little late, but I recently pre-ordered Sara Ahmed's Living a Feminist Life on the strength of a) enjoying her previous books, and (mostly tbh) b) her twitter and blog posts while she was working on the book. No regrets!
posted by the north sea at 5:06 AM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've got a fistful of authors I trust to reliably deliver high quality writing: those people I'll pre-order in a flash. (Got four on pre-order right now, due to drop anywhere from May to October.)

Then there are books for various youngsters, say when the Harry Potter books were coming out, and again I'd pre-order: these may not have been my trusted authors, but they are for the intended recipients. (Got one on pre-order now, the final book in a series a niece is deeply into and begging for --- anything to encourage more reading!)

I very, very rarely pre-order new-to-me or unknown authors: sure, some have turned out well, but some have also turned out to be major mistakes. Those are the titles I'll put on my Amazon wish list, to think over several times before making a final buy/no-buy decision.
posted by easily confused at 7:41 AM on April 22, 2017

The only book I ever pre-ordered was written by Col. Chris Hadfield, after he had just returned from the International Space Station. I was impressed with his videos while he was up there, and wanted to hear his thoughts on life, and how he got to be an astronaut.
posted by itsflyable at 6:30 PM on April 22, 2017

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