Search the Site

How Much Do Book Blurbs Matter?

Do the book blurbs that one author gives to another author affect your decision to read the book?

The publishing industry certainly believes that blurbs matter a great deal. There is a lot of effort put into sending a manuscript out to authors for blurbs — more effort, I sometimes think, than the editing that goes into books. So do those endorsements matter?

Long ago, I used to think they mattered a lot. Then I changed my mind, thinking that blurbs don’t signal much about the quality of the book, but at least they signal something about the quality of the author’s friends or acquaintances who were willing to blurb the book.

Lately, I’ve come to believe that they really don’t matter at all, since most readers see blurbs as having about the same level of integrity as a used-car salesman’s personal promise that the car you’re about to buy is A-OK. But that might be an insult to used-car salesmen.

Consider the letter I got in the mail today along with the manuscript for a business book by two authors I don’t know. The letter was written by the book’s editor, another person I don’t know. Here’s the key paragraph:

If you find [redacted] and [redacted]’s ideas as compelling and inspiring as we do, a quote from you that we could print on the jacket would make a world of difference. I would be happy to help craft a quote if you prefer. My contact info is below.

So knowing that some blurbs are written by the book’s editor, let me ask you the question again: how much do book blurbs matter to you? FWIW, Levitt happened to blog earlier today about a book he loved: how much does that kind of endorsement matter?