Friday, July 27, 2012

Author Giacomo Giammatteo: Shopping For Books And A Giveaway

I’m delighted to be participating in author Giacomo Giammatteo’s Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour for his latest release, MURDER TAKES TIME, a mystery/suspense novel.

At the end of his tour, Giacomo will be giving away an iPad 3, a Kindle Fire, and a $50 gift card. For more information on the giveaway and how to enter, be sure to click here or on the giveaway banner below.

Here’s a brief description of MURDER TAKES TIME:
A string of brutal murders has bodies piling up in Brooklyn, and Detective Frankie Donovan knows what is going on. Clues left at the crime scenes point to someone from the old neighborhood, and that isn’t good.

Frankie has taken two oaths in his life—the one he took to uphold the law when he became a cop, and the one he took with his two best friends when they were eight years old and inseparable.

Murder-Takes-Time-long-bannerThose relationships have forced Frankie into many tough decisions, but now he faces the toughest one of his life; he has five murders to solve and one of those two friends is responsible. If Frankie lets him go, he breaks the oath he took as a cop and risks losing his job. But if he tries to bring him in, he breaks the oath he kept for twenty-five years—and risks losing his life.

In the neighborhood where Frankie Donovan grew up, you never broke an oath.

Giacomo joins us now to talk about the transformation of the publishing industry and ‘how to shop for books.’ 

How Do You Shop for Books? The transformation in the publishing industry has changed a lot of things over the past several years. I should say eBooks have changed a lot of things. Every aspect of publishing has been affected, from pricing and distribution, to availability, time to market, how books are written and how books are read. E-readers have done all this and more, and it’s only going to get better—or worse—depending on how you look at it.

TRANSFORMATION - I resisted the change to an e-reader; in fact, I never bought a reader. My wife said she was going to surprise me with a Kindle early on and I told her not to, that I’d never read on one. Then, when Apple introduced the iPad, I bought one, but not with the intent on reading. I think you know what happened. I read a few books on it and was hooked.

Occasionally I go to my bookshelf, brush off a few cobwebs and find one I haven’t read, but for the most part, it’s digital for me.

But that’s not what has been the most significant change. The biggest change for me is not in pricing, though that is lower, and it’s not the instant availability, though I find that wonderful, and it’s not even in the ease of digital reading, or the ability to carry a mini library on my tablet; the biggest change for me is in how I shop for books.

PrintTHE DIGITAL BOOKSTORE - I don’t mean missing the trips to the bookstore, where my wife and I would spend hours drinking coffee and mulling over which books to buy. And I don’t mean stopping at a used-book store in a strange town, or even a different part of town, to find that elusive book we’d never heard of to cap off a fun day together. What I’m talking about, is how I make the decision regarding which books to buy.

THE WAY IT USED TO BE - In the old days at the bookstore, I would go to the mystery aisle, or the fantasy aisle, or history, depending on what mood I was in, and I’d start with the usual routine. The first things that caught my eye were the books turned sideways—as they were meant to—and then the ones with the catchy titles, or nice covers. Once a book found it’s way into my hands, I’d read the jacket cover, and if still interested, I’d start into the book. If I got five pages in without the desire to drop it, or shove it back on the shelf, it went into the basket to buy.

SO WHAT HAS CHANGED? - Amazon has changed, that’s what. When shopping online, it’s difficult to “judge the book by it’s cover” when the covers are so small. And it just isn’t the same without being able to pick those books up in my hands and skim through them, feel them, smell them.

But in a way, it’s better. What I do now is, go to whatever section I’m in the mood to shop and type that into the search bar. Let’s say it’s mystery books. I pick something more specific, hard-boiled mysteries (in Kindle), or mysteries and thrillers, or suspense (Kindle). I hit return to get the list, then— and here’s the key—I move over to the right, to the sort bar, and “sort by avg. customer review.”

THE RESULTS - What you get is the list of the top-rated books in that category. It isn’t purely top rated, but it’s close. Amazon does some massaging with their algorithms, and, from what I can tell, it’s a combination of the number of reviews combined with highest ratings. So a book with 200 reviews that averages 4.3 stars might be ahead of a book with 40 reviews that averages 4.6, but it might only take a few more 5-star reviews for that other one to overtake it.

The reason I do this is because, for me, this is the easiest and most sensible way to shop. I can skim the top 100 if I like and surely find some good buys. Otherwise I’d be skimming 50,000 or more. The trick after that is learning to read the reviews, and judging whether the book is for you or not, but that’s another post by itself.

WHAT NEXT? - Once a book passes the review test, then the best part of digital comes into play—downloading a sample. Amazon allows you to download a sample that amounts to about 10% of the book. I always do this before I purchase the book. That sample provides more than enough pages for me to decide if I like the author’s style.

If you follow this method, you might still be fooled. Maybe you like the voice and style, but the plot falls apart, or there is a crappy ending. That’s a risk you’ll have to take, but the system now is far better than it’s ever been. I used to buy a lot of books I ended up not reading. Now I don’t.

What am I reading tonight? A dusty old book called the Count of Monte Cristo. I heard it’s gotten good reviews.

Ciao, and thanks for listening, Giacomo
Murder-Takes-Time-Banner-300x200 Giacomo, thanks for guest blogging today. Your take on how the industry has changed the way we buy books is interesting. The digital age has changed so many aspects of the publishing industry.
Now let me share a bit of background on Giacomo. He lives in Texas now, but grew up in Cleland Heights, a mixed ethnic neighborhood in Wilmington, Delaware that sat on the fringes of the Italian, Irish and Polish neighborhoods. The main characters of MURDER TAKES TIMES grew up in Cleland Heights and many of the scenes in the book were taken from real-life experiences.

Giacomo says he somehow survived the transition to adulthood, but when his children were young he left the Northeast and settled in Texas where his wife suggested they get a few animals. They now have a full-blown animal sanctuary with rescues from all over. At last count they had 41 animals—12 dogs, a horse, a three-legged cat and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar, who takes walks with Giacomo every day and happens to also be his best buddy.

By day Giacomo is a headhunter, scouring the country for top talent to fill jobs in the biotech and medical device industry. In the evening  he helps his wife tend the animals, and at night—late at night—he turns into a writer.

For more information on Giacomo, visit his website at Look around, click some links, and, if you’ve got time, tell him what you think. You contact him at

Has the way you shop for books changed due to the digital age? Be sure to click here or on the banner above to find out more about the giveaways and to enter. Good luck and thanks so much for stopping by today.


  1. The story of MURDER TAKES TIME attracted me a lot, planning to read this one because I love reading books and I prefer to Buy Books Online.

  2. Giacomo, thanks again for guest blogging today. I enjoyed your take on how the industry has changed. Wishing you much success.

    Malbcs, thanks so stopping by.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Giacomo.

    Giacomo - Shopping for books has definitely changed. I find myself trying more new-to-me authors than I used to because it's so easy to find inexpensive e-books. And in today's world, I find it far easier to learn what other people are saying about a given book. That lets me know what's out there much more than used to be the case.

  4. I didn't expect to love my ereader as much as I do either. I read almost exclusively on that or my iPod touch now. I haven't tried sorting by reviews yet - thanks for the tip. Good luck iwth the book - sounds like a great read!

  5. thanks for having me here today. I appreciate the opportunity. You know what I find very interesting also, is that after getting used to reading reviews by readers on Amazon and other places, I end up trusting them more than I do the editorial reviews. Once you learn to discount the "family" and the few "haters" that sometimes show up, the rest is all meat. I think it helps tremendously.

  6. Also, a thought to anyone who is interested in Murder Takes Time, or for that matter, any book. Don't forget to read a sample before you buy it. I know for my book, if you enjoy the sample, you'll probably love the book. If you don't like the sample, don't buy it.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.