For most readers out there, there is nothing more special than going to the bookstore (offline or online) and browsing through all the books there, before buying one (or two, three, ten, twenty). Personally I'm interested in why someone picks up a particular book. I have listed a couple things that are important for me, before I buy a book.
For me this is the most important thing before I pick up a book. If I don't like a cover it's very unlikely I will ever pick up a book. Unless I've heard very positive things about the book. Publishers make the same sort of covers for books that match in style, genre and readers. So it's not really strange people pick a book by it's cover. And sometimes a book can really surprise you if you pick a different kind of cover than usual.
The first I notice about a book is the cover, but more importantly is the title. If I can't find a title or if it isn't readable, than I most likely will not pick up the book. It must be a title which makes me curious for a book. I think this is one of the most important things about a book.
So if the covers is pretty enough and I have picked up the book, the first thing I do is read the synopsis. This one is really important for me. Between all the things this is the one which makes me really buy the book. But it has happened that I didn't like a synopsis and still bought the book. Good reviews can be a dealmaker too!
* Style of writing
If I still like the book after looking at the cover and reading the synopsis I start reading the book somewhere in the middle. I just open the book ad randum and start reading. In this way I don't know what's going on and I get a good idea of the style of writing. If I read a couple of pages without "noticing" the style is good! Most of the time I buy the book by now.
I'm really good at expressing my own opinion and it's kinda hard to make me think differently, especially when it comes to books. If I like a book, I like it and no matter how many bad reviews there are I will still like it. Luckily for me it doesn't work the other way around. If I don't have high hopes for a book, it can be changed by good reviews. I read reviews if I'm not sure if I will like the story.
There are some authors out there who I think are really good! I choose to buy their books without looking at the cover or reading the synopsis. Sometimes I'm more hesitant. Expecially if the authors write series and start writing other books, then it's the reviews that are of the most influence.
I love websites like Goodreads and Amazon. Both have their great things, but one thing they have in common: they give great recommendations! (okay, actually they have two things in common, also the reviews) With the recommendations I always pick up new books. I'm a reader who goes back and forward between being scared that I won't have enough time to read all the books I want and that there will be a point where I don't know what to read anymore, because I can't find any great books. It's a bit silly, but luckily for me it has never happened that I really ran out of great books to read.
A couple of weeks ago I discussed this topic with some other readers and one of them said that she had a couple of publishers which books she always bought without looking at the synopsis etc. Personally I've never really noticed this, but it started me thinking about it. And there are a couple of publishers I really like (according to my book collection). So I added this to my list of things to look at before I pick up a book.
So what are your conditions before buying a book?