Top 7 Excuses People Use Not to Buy Books

posted in: Writing | 38

Margie's books 640 Photo by Margie MiklasAs a writer, I enjoy writing a whole lot more than selling or marketing my books. I am sure this is true for most writers, yet books do not sell themselves, so promoting and marketing becomes part of the process.

Margie Miklas, Author - Book Signing at the Florida Writers Association Conference Photo by Margie MiklasI have personally found Twitter to be one of the best avenues for promoting and networking, and I enjoy the engagement with others on this 140-character social media venue. I have sold the majority of my books as a result of the word getting out via Twitter, and I have found the community of writers and readers to be  extremely supportive of each other. I am grateful to all who have played a part in this process.

Books, writing, Photo by Margie MiklasHowever, as a member of the Treasure Coast Writers Guild I also occasionally participate in events where I have the opportunity to engage readers and sell my books in person. It’s fun and I am able to autograph them for readers who are interested in learning about my travels in Italy. I am not a salesperson by nature, so I don’t sell that many books at these venues overall. Recently, however, I had a fun and successful weekend at a three-day Taste of Little Italy festival, not far from where I live in Florida.

Book selling Photo by Author Margie MiklasOf course not everyone buys a book and that’s OK, but I am always amazed at the excuses which I have heard again and again. I don’t know why someone doesn’t simply say, “Thank you, not today,” or “I’m not interested,” or “That’s not my genre.” So I decided it’s time to write a post to share with you the top 7 excuses people give not to buy books.

• “I don’t read.” This seems to be one of the most common excuses I’ve heard, and it never ceases to surprise me when someone says this while they walk away. If I myself didn’t read, I would be ashamed to admit it to anyone, but apparently “Honey Badger don’t care.” Unbelievable.
• “I only read the Bible.” This is another excuse I hear almost every time, and I don’t even live in the Bible belt. It’s as if they believe that God doesn’t want anyone to learn anything that isn’t in the Holy Book.
• “I have so many books to read already.” Okay, I can sort of identify with this one, but what’s one more, especially if you seem to really be interested in the subject?
• “I could write a book.” Duh – What does this have to do with reading a book, or buying a book? If you could write a book, go do it.
• “I only read on my Kindle.” While I realize that Kindle sales outsell paperbacks today, I would think a more appropriate response might be, “Is your book available online as an eBook?”
• “I don’t even live here.” This excuse is from a snowbird, someone who lives in Florida for a few months during the winter and then returns to a home up North. The first time I heard this, I couldn’t help myself from asking where they lived and then asking if they read in New Jersey. See why I was not cut out to be in sales? Obviously, the person did not buy a book from me.
• “I didn’t bring any money with me.” This one is another excuse that makes me wonder how anyone could leave their home with no money. Again, even if this was true, I would never acknowledge this to a stranger.

There are plenty more excuses that people give for not buying books, but these 7 are the top ones I have heard. I’d love to hear more, so please share any you’ve heard.

Book signing - Photo by Margie Miklas
If you like what you read, please leave a comment, and/or share this post with a friend. I’m always interested in feedback. Until then, keep reading and thank you for not being one who “doesn’t read.”

Thank you.





38 Responses

  1. Heather Grace Stewart

    Loved this! I can relate to ALL those excuses, have heard them all! I have one to add,

    “No thanks, I’m a plumber.”

    Wait, what? I guess plumbers don’t read?

    Really pleased to “Meet” you !

  2. Marie's Travels

    So sad that so many people have excuses for not reading a book.
    I love reading, much more than I enjoy watching a tv show or movie. Books are wonderful and can really bring some new thoughts to your mind.
    But do you know what? You can’t force people to read books. If they don’t want to, they won’t enjoy it anyways. Sad, but true.

  3. Debbie Robson

    Hi Margie,
    I’ve sold copies of Tomaree on a stand outside a famous bookstore in Australia – Angus & Robertson now gone unfortunately and my favourite excuse was “I don’t read!” It used to amaze me how proudly people would say that! It can be frustrating but keep up the good work!

  4. Jack Erickson

    A great blog, Margie, not surprised you’ve ignited a great discussion.
    One response I’ve heard often when the topic of reading, buying books, or
    engaging in a good conversation, someone will say, “Oh, I’m too busy to read!”

    When I ask what keeps them busy, I’ll hear things like . . . paraphrasing here a bit . . . “Well I have to take care of my cats and dogs, I go shopping every day and have lunch with my friends, then come home and watch my favorite shows on TV every night. There’s just no time to read a book!”
    I agree with them; they don’t have time to read, they fill their day with distractions. Sad, really.

    Keep up the fight Margie, those of us who read and write have more fulfilling lives! Who has time for TV any more?

  5. Lisa

    Sadly, the first excuse is the reality, especially in Italy 🙁 Writers write for themselves. If others jump on the crazy train with us then it makes for a fun ride!

  6. Rosemary

    Re not having time, Joyce Grenfell (much loved British actress and writer, now deceased) wrote in her diary that she had decided to set her alarm an hour earlier every morning to give herself time to read. However, I do need to qualify that by telling you that she had ‘staff’, and frequently wrote letters in bed late into the morning. She also had no children, so no getting up to do the school run! But she was somebody who loved life and got everything she could out of every day.

  7. PostcardZ from Victoria

    Love it! Sometimes I have to wonder what people would think if they really heard themselves and those excuses which I would venture they use for a lot of things besides not buying a book!

  8. David Miklas

    I loved reading those excuses, mom. Alas, even though I am your son, you may recall that I used to sell newspapers at one point. My crowning achievement was selling a newspaper subscription to a blind guy. I convinced his sister that she could read it out load to him.

  9. Jim Hammond

    Good post Margie! So which is better, make up an excuse or tell the bold truth? They could have just said something like, I’m not interested in the topic, I don’t see the value and I’m on a budget, or maybe the sad truth is they just don’t read. In any case it reminds me of the business I use to run and how I dealt with executives who said they wouldn’t buy my product because of excuses that it didn’t do abc or xyz, and couldn’t understand why we didn’t have those features (most of the time they were very odd requests). My response was simple, I only built products for people who would actually evaluate and BUY. Just like your books, they are really meant for a target market, all of your marketing efforts are really meant to just find the targets, not waste time expanding outside the target. Outside the target you’ll get the really poor excuses.

    Oh well we can just sit back and love this weather of ours and watch the storms hit the northeast (or Elyria). I’m surprised you aren’t back in Italy with the Euro crumbling! Best of luck … Jim-

    • margieinitaly

      Thank you so much Jim, and your advice is perfect as far as knowing who your target audience is. Your analogy to your business is perfect. I am enjoying your financial tips on your blog as well. And by the way, I do have a trip to Italy planned for May and June! Loving the fact that the dollar is stronger!

  10. Vishal Ostwal

    “I could write a book.”, hahaha, funny! Does one stop eating cake, if he knows to cook it?

    However, I avoid buying much books because they aren’t always affordable for me. And when I get enough money….I buy books! 🙂

    • imarancher

      You sound like the Philosopher named Erasmus, he said that, “when I get a little money I buy books, if I have any money left over I buy food.” I never forgot that because I have gone without a better cut of beef to pay my book club memberships, hahaha.

  11. Greg Speck

    With both print, ebooks, and audio books, my life would not be so fruitful. Some of our best travels were inspired by reading travelogues, and first person journeys. I just hope my eyes last as long as my desire to read and explore! Caio.

    • imarancher

      I made a rule, every time I move, to find a start up community library or hospital or nursing home that is looking for books. I had to rent a U haul when I moved across the state. I cried but it was selfish to keep them to myself when so many need a chance to see the wonderful ideas they contain.

      A friend recently asked me if I would like two books she really liked. I said of course but advised her it would be #5 on the list of things I am reading or going to read at the moment. I read fast and sometimes do have two books going at one time but I do get to them eventually. She said, I know what you mean! Needless to say, we are now even closer friends.

      And by the way, I read the Bible at least an hour a day and usually more as I read, study and meditate. However, that still leaves 23 more hours for other reading material.

      The usual excuse for reading that I hear is “I don’t have time.” Make time and enrich your life with the ideas of others. You won’t regret it.

      • margieinitaly

        I could not have said it better. You are right – “I don’t have time” is also a popular excuse. Someone once told me that you only have time if you make the time. Thank you Bonnie

  12. Rosemary

    I find this all very interesting. As a (thankfully ex-) lawyer, hardly anyone I worked with ever read a book for pleasure. They thought I was weird, as they simply had no interest in reading. I thought they were weird, as I was brought up by parents who took me to the local library every Friday afternoon throughout my childhood – it wasn’t only the books I loved there, it was the calm and peaceful atmosphere. As an adult with a house full of books, I have even been asked (by another mother when my children were still at primary school) ‘Do you actually leave your books on show?’ – as if they were porn or something.

    Now that I write arts articles for an online news website here in Scotland, I attend many book launches, readings, etc – I have made a friend of the girl who organises these at one of the large book stores, and she says no matter how many people turn up to the event (these being free and sometimes providing free wine) very few of them actually buy anything. I imagine that many of our remaining book shops get by on the contracts they have secured to supply books to schools, and/or the sale of text books, past papers, etc to the general public (as these are not any cheaper on Amazon, etc). I really don’t know how the smaller independent stores manage – it’s the same with art, as I have heard that there is now only one gallery owner in the whole of the ‘art area’ of Edinburgh who still lives entirely from the proceeds of his/her sales. The rest of the galleries are all owned by people with private incomes, financial support from elsewhere, etc.

    Like you, the only excuse that I can relate to a little in that list is the ‘too many books’ one – storage is a real problem in a flat, and not all family members are as unbothered as I am by stacks of books everywhere. I can’t bear my books to be incarcerated in cardboard boxes, so I just pile them up everywhere until I get into trouble….

    I used to use the library to try books – especially expensive non-fiction ones like big cook books – before I bought them, but the fines for overdue books are now so high, and I am now so busy, that I was chalking up more in library debts than it would have cost me to buy the books.

    Thanks for a very thought-provoking article!

    • orna2013

      I can really relate to this. All of it! However, when I dramatically downsized to move to Italy two years ago, I had to undertake a heartbreaking “culling” of my huge book collection. As a result, a local library received a great shot-in-the-arm, but I was quite bereft to see such a vast quantity of treasured friends heading out the gate in the back of an SUV.

      • margieinitaly

        It’s true, Orna. Moving forces one to make choices due to less space in a new place, and particularly Italy! Thank you for commenting

  13. orna2013

    These are ALL extraordinary reasons not to buy a book. Being, personally, a book-addict who reads everything, I am particularly surprised. I travel with my Kindle always to hand, but purchase and read many books too, as I still love the feel of cracking open a new hardback by a favourite author. And I still find time to write too! Orna

  14. Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    Hi Margie, this really made me chuckle, as and I have more than a passing interest in the future success of a book that’s about to come out it also made intriguing reading. Also reminded me of selling my art at a large charity bazaar in Naples, where groups of ladies almost turned towards the room I was in, but then waved at me and work saying ‘There’s nothing here.’ before wandering in the opposite direction. So, I’m deaf/invisible now? 🙂

  15. ishitasood

    Haha! I am laughing here reading at these Margie. What a wonderful post and also so true it hits on the psyche of people 😛

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