Keli Gwyn
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Sneak Peek Readers

Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature gives readers the chance to do just that. It’s a great way for online customers to see if they like a book before placing an order.

The “Look Inside” feature was activated on my debut novel this past Friday night. I happened to be on my book’s Amazon’s page at the very time they were uploading the file my publisher had sent them.

I learned that Amazon uploads the entire file and then deletes the pages that aren’t part of the preview. At first, almost every one of the 320 pages in my book were visible.

Once they completed the process, around 50 pages remained. Most are from the first three chapters. There’s a small section in the middle from one of my favorite scenes. Much to my surprise, most of the last chapter is visible, too, which struck me as being a big spoiler.

My first reaction was to freak out a bit. My second? OK. I’ll admit it. I emailed my agent. Rachelle got right back to me–on a Saturday, no less–and gave me great counsel. She said not to worry about it because those who read the last chapter want a spoiler.

Duh! I knew that. Really I did. After all, I’ve heard some readers say they flip to the end of a book to make sure it has a good ending before they buy it.

An even bigger “ah ha!” moment followed. Only fifty pages or so are included in Amazon’s preview, and yet all the pages will be visible when the book hits the shelves of Walmart and brick and mortar bookstores.

This experience got me wondering how many readers like to get a sneak peek. Bearing in mind that I’m simply curious and not out to judge anyone, do you look inside a book before buying it? If so, do you read the first page, the first chapter, and/or flip to the end?

Keli Gwyn

20 Comments

  • jessicarpatch says:

    Keli, I would’ve done the same thing and had the same ah ha moment! I never, ever look at the ending. In fact, if I’m curious to read the “Thank you’s” or “Author Notes” I do it with one eye closed and then cover the page. My sister does this though! I scream every time she tells me she looked. Why do you want to know the ending before you embark on the journey? I don’t judge but I do shiver. LOL

  • Online I read the book referrals from other authors in the front and the first two or three chapters. The author question section in the back is a big spoiler because it outlines, and no, I don’t want to know what is happening further in because it would be like a news report synopsis. I read the back cover at a store and the front cover is what draws my attention first if I don’t know the author. Otherwise, I am already waiting and looking for the next book of authors I already read. I do not read book chapters in a store. It’s not a library! I want a fresh, crisp book and not one someone has fingered and opened the front binding. Oh, my goodness, I sound fastidious!!

  • Sherrinda says:

    I would have freaked out! lol Personally, I usually don’t read the previews. I read the back cover copy to decide if I want to read a book or not. 🙂 Now, if there is a first chapter of a sequel at the end of a book I’m reading, then I will read that…and then growl in frustration at how long it will take for the sequel to reach the shelves. 🙂

  • Donna Pyle says:

    Wow, I’m surprised about parts of the last chapter being revealed, as well! I never read the last page or chapter first because I like to experience a story as it unfolds. I rely on the jacket blurb or a personal recommendation when purchasing a book. I’m so excited for your debut! The day is drawing close. Woo Hoo!!

  • No way do I spoil the ending! What’s the point in that? I might open to the first page and read a little, but usually I buy books based on friends’ recommendations anyway, so I trust them when they say I’ll like something.

  • joannebischof says:

    I peek inside. but only at the first page or so. I never flip to the end only because I want to be surprised. Wow…Walmart…that is exciting! I bet you are so ready for readers to get to pick up this book. I know I’m looking forward to meeting your characters and hearing your writing “voice”. Its always so much fun to read books by people I know and get to experience the stories of their hearts.

  • I had no idea! I found this so fascinating that I had to jump over to mine and see which pages were available. My last page isn’t available for a sneak peek, but the sneak peek for book 2 is! I thought that was pretty cool. That readers can already see a sneak peek of book 2, which won’t come out until next March.

    Makes so much sense. Some readers want to peek at the end and see if they’ll get their happily-ever-after. I don’t tend to do that. The most I do is flip further forward in the book, but never the end.

  • Erica Vetsch says:

    Yay for having the Look Inside feature up and running! 🙂

    I do use the Look Inside on amazon, but mostly to look at the TOC of non-fiction books I’m thinking about getting for research. For fiction, I never peek at the last page. That takes all the fun out of reading the story.

  • I saw your Facebook post about the sneak peak on Amazon this weekend and I hopped over there to take a look! I’ve been waiting for months to read some of your work and I wasn’t dissapointed! 🙂 I didn’t happen to see the end – and I wouldn’t want to. I’ve gone so far as to cover the bottom of the last page of a book when I’ve been reading it so that I can’t read the last couple paragraphs until the VERY end! I think part of it is the anticipation (I didn’t want to know what gender my children were when I was pregnant, either) and part of it is knowing how hard I work as an author to give a good surprise ending – I don’t want to ruin another author’s hard work!

  • wendypainemiller says:

    I try really hard not to check out the ending. I love to be surprised. Isn’t this fun, all this learning to be done before/and as a book comes out? Glad you have more peace about it now.
    ~ Wendy

  • Casey Herringshaw says:

    I used to be REALLY guilty of this. Until I started reading Julie Lessman. Then I accidently spotted a plot revelation deeper in the book, (I promise it wasn’t intentional. ;)). I let it slip to her I had seen this revelation and she made sure I have never read the back of a book again before getting there one page at a time. LOL, I tell people she broke my bad habit, because I wasn’t going back to her saying I’d read the ending she worked so hard to hide before I was supposed to. Now, I don’t peek at ALL and I love it so much better. 🙂

  • Brianna Soloski says:

    I read the end of a book first thing. It does determine where or not I will continue reading. I don’t really consider it a spoiler for me because I don’t remember what happens by the time I get to the end of the book. On the other hand, that’s one of the things I like about the Kindle – that I can’t jump to the end.

  • Absolutely not. I don’t even know how my stories end when I start them. It seems to take the joy out of reading the stories. And another thing, I read romance and I know a happily ever after is required… 🙂 Sort of sounds like cheating, doesn’t it!

  • Wow, Keli! Who knew? I would have been a little disconcerted, too.

    And about the ending… I never flip to the ending. Back cover copy, yes. First few pages, yes. Never the ending though. I want to be surprised. (And from your opening sentences…I can’t wait to get my hands on your book!)

  • nope. don’t read the last page. avoid it all costs. i read the first few, though, to make sure i’m willing to part with the money to read the book.

  • Loree Huebner says:

    I don’t like to spoil the ending, so I don’t look. But I do take a look at the writing, and about the author.

  • I’m so happy that things are moving right along for you, Keli! I don’t read the last chapter before buying the book because I want to be surprised. But I guess there are plenty of people who do enjoy spoilers. I usually read the blurb of the book and maybe the teaser in the front.

  • Carol says:

    I can’t imagine wanting to read the last pages of a story. Of course, I read a lot of mystery stories so the whole focus of the book would be spoiled if I read the mystery’s solution first. In a bookstore I read the back cover blurb and sometimes the first paragraph or two — never beyond the first page — before I buy a book from a new-to-me author.

    I’ve never fully understood the value of publishing as much of a peek as Amazon does, altho’ maybe they think if a prospective customer reads far enough to get hooked on the story, they’ll have to buy it. When buying online I never read more than the first chapter before making my decision. It’s exciting to know your book can now be previewed, but I already know I’m going to buy it so I don’t think I’m going to take a peek. 🙂

  • Keli, I truly love that feature on amazon and read pages from many of the books I am interested in buying. It has helped me select certain books I use for research. I can read the table of contents to be sure it has the info I need and not a lot of fluff and photos. I am careful to read non-fiction summaries, again for the same reason. When I want to read a genre or type for inspiration I also use that feature. And yes, it is just like sitting on the floor behind the stacks in my library, or taking a stack of books to the cafe in B&N and deciding which ones I want.

    However, I tend not to read the pages from a book I was certain I was buying, a book I had been anticipating either because someone told me about it, or becuase it was written by someone I know. I avoid reading jacket covers or back page blurbs and endorsements. I don’t like to have a summary of a hard copy on the flap and flip quickly with paperbacks to avoid the reviews or summaries. I never read the pages of a book for my monthly book club because I want to be surprised.

    BTW isn’t it awesome to see your book on their website, to see the cover and the little arrow pointing to pages YOU wrote? I mean the thrill would lift me off the ground and I am certain it did you as well. The Wow factor is at its higest level and I hope you enjoy every second of it … I also know I will enjoy every second of your book … But I WILL NOT look inside first 🙂

  • jennifermmajor says:

    If I dearly love the main characters, I’ll take a peek at the back pages. Like the first of Brock and Bodie Theone’s books set in WW2. I HAD to know who survived! Now I’m trying to grow some discipline. Hahaha.

    What a cool feature to have for your books!

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