I got this email from a cousin of mine and I really wanted to share it with you all and see what you’ve experienced.
Just got back from the library choosing a couple of “relaxing” books. As I browsed, I had these thoughts and then decided I’d send them to the family librarian :).
Has anyone ever done a study about how people choose a book to check out? If one goes to the library with no particular book or author in mind, is she influenced by the appearance of the book—pictures on the spine, looks new/old, likes the pictures on the cover? And what about those books that have part of the title or the author’s name covered by the shelving sticker? (Don’t know what you really call that sticker, but you know the one–author, call number where applicable, etc.)
Do people pull the book off the shelf to see the rest of the words on the cover? Then there are the books on the top shelf above your head and on the bottom shelf down by the floor. Are they checked out as much as the ones on the middle shelves that can be viewed easily? Would you rather have a book that has something about the story on the back cover or one that doesn’t give you a hint?
I know I have a tendency to choose newer-looking books with pleasant covers. I’d only pull the book off the shelf if the words I could see on the spine sounded interesting. I’d rarely choose a book on the top shelf because I’d have to go hunt up a step stool. Sometimes I get one off the bottom shelf if I can see the title without having to get down on the floor. (At my age, I might have to just STAY on the floor!) And I like that info on the back–just in case it’s about something I don’t want to read about. I
know–I have too much time on my hands! I should use it to think about world problems or something. Ha! If I wrote a book, I’d want it to have a pretty cover and be on a middle shelf–preferably in the Large Print section so I could see the words!
I thought this was great. I didn’t go looking for any particular research on the topic because I was out of town and just got home, but I love starting with my fellow librarians anyway! What do you all think? What have you seen patrons doing? What do you do?
I personally will get on the floor (and sit down there for as long as it takes) if the shelve of books on the topic I want is down there. I don’t pay any attention to spine labels – except to find the location of a specific book. When it comes to fiction I too look for pretty or new covers – but if the book doesn’t have a summary – as so many new books seem to be missing – I won’t borrow or buy the book … I need to know what the darn thing is about – not what some other author thought of the book.