What's the Point of Book Blurbs?

If you believed them then you'd think every book published is, like, really amazing. From The Guardian:

There's a lot of received wisdom in the publishing world – for instance, if you write non-fiction, your book needs a subtitle. Never mind that fiction doesn't require that extra bit of explication (Crime & Punishment: Murder and Redemption in the Empire of the Tsars anyone?) if you write non-fiction you simply must spell out what you're up to for prospective readers! This may be a wise policy or it may be nonsense, nobody knows.

Then there are blurbs, the more of which you can plaster on your paperback the better. Do these blurbs – many of which could be transferred from book to book without great difficulty – actually sway readers? Usually these are from newspaper reviews reduced by your sales people to a string of superlatives here, a comparison to somebody more famous than you are there. If the blurb comes from a review by a famous person, then they may just run with the name of the celebrity alone ("The Da Vinci Code is f*cking awesome!" – Salman Rushdie).


Really what is the point of them. They obviously just lie. Does anyone really care if something is the number one bestseller or Stephen King thinks this book is the greatest contemporary novel he has ever read?

I'm a pretty voracious reader, but like to come to my own opinion on books that I read. When I look at the back cover I'm looking for a description of what the book is about so I can decide whether or not to read it. I don't care to read sound bites of what others have to say. If I want to read reviews, I will find some reviews and read them in their entirety.

an author writing a blurb for a book he wrote himself under a pseudonym!

I'm a librarian, and a patron had asked for more books by a Michael Weaver. We discovered he'd only written 3 books, Deception, Lies and Impulse. The patron wondered if any new books were in the works, if the author had died, and so on. We couldn't find any biographical information on him, even at his publisher's website. Finally I discovered on this Barnes and Noble author page http://search.barnesandnoble.com/The-Gold-Coast/Nelson-DeMille/e/9780446360852 that Michael Weaver was a pseudonym used by Nelson DeMille!

On one of the books we got for our patron, oddly enough, there was glowing praise from Nelson DeMille for Michael Weaver!

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