It was a perfect spring weekend — the kind to lay in a hammock and read a good book.  I did not have any leisure reading handy, so I went to a real bookstore to see what I could find.  

What I realized is that it is a risky thing to buy a book without knowing anything about it. I regularly shop at garage sales and flea markets where books are ten cents to a dollar, and that lessens the risk. But in a bookstore, new hardcovers are $25+, not to mention the precious leisure hours that need to be invested in reading them.

It is very difficult to tell what makes a good book from its cover.  What makes for a good read is such a matter of personal taste that it was even hard for me to ask the staff what they suggested; some books I have loved others have not and vice versa.

No wonder book clubs, testimonials on the book jacket and even the “on-line seller’s recommendations based on previous purchases” are so popular.  I think they help readers sort the hundreds of choices into manageable categories and provide profiles of authors that may appeal to similar audiences.  I’m afraid that leaves me reading books that all have the same basic plot line instead of adventuring out into Harry Potter, Moby Dick or Divergent, but at least I like most of what I read.

What can you do to lessen the risk to your customers?  Think about how you can help them connect your product or service with something else that they know or assist them in making patterns out of the many choices.  Your beautiful cover won’t matter at all if they are too overwhelmed to buy anything.

— beth triplett

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