For me, it is harder to make a recommendation than to warn a reader off. The reason is because if I make a recommendation and the person acts on that recommendation, I know she has spent time and money based on something I said. Whenever I give a recommendation, I am thinking that this book is worth it to me and I hope it is worth it to you. I know that everything that I like isn’t going to appeal to everyone else. (cough * Caris Roane * cough).
When I’m asked directly for a recommendation, I always try to find out what the reader likes. What tropes does she like? What tropes does she want to stay away from? Does she like agnst? Humor? Dialogue?
I’m particularly careful in making recommendations for trade paperback books, hardcovers, and hard to find books. In fact, I’ve discouraged reviewers at Dear Author from reviewing books that are out of print unless they can be easily purchased for a reasonable price. My reasoning has been that I don’t want foster excitement about a book that is really expensive or hard to find.
It’s become even more challenging in recommending books when I get them for free. It’s easy to recommend three trade paperbacks in one month when I haven’t paid a penny for them. To be fair to each book, however, I’ve tried to view each one isolation, asking myself whether I would recommend this book on its merits regardless of price.
However, you often hear readers say to other readers that it’s a good book but not worth the hardcover prices. I actually wrote that to a friend the other day about a hardcover I had read.
It’s easier to tell a reader that you didn’t enjoy a book because you aren’t asking her to expend resources (either time or money). The biggest risk in telling a reader that book A isn’t something that she is likely going to enjoy is that she might miss out on a book she would enjoy. And that happens. But for the person giving the recommendation or suggesting a pass, its an easier risk to take.
What do you think? Is it easier for you to tell a reader friend to buy a book or to pass?