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The winner of an autographed copy of Body Heat is Marissa G. Congratulations! Marissa, contact me through the contact page at my website with your snail mail. And happy holidays, everyone!

I have good news and bad news. The good news is, Body Heat is now available – and isn’t that the most delicious cover? The bad news is, it doesn’t appear that customers who visit the bricks and mortar Chapters Indigo stores (they’re the big chain in Canada) will see that cover because the book’s not on the shelves. Yes, I’m Canadian and in the past, I’ve always seen my books on the shelves of my local stores, but not this time around. It’s kind of depressing.

I suppose the silver lining to the bad news is that not all that many people are shopping in bricks and mortar book stores any more. Though that’s kind of bad news, isn’t it? If people don’t shop there, the stores will go out of business. And don’t we readers all love a visit to an actual real live book store?

If so, why aren’t we buying books there? The two main reasons that always get cited are the poor economy over the last few years and the rise of e-readers and digital books. But I think there’s another one too. We’re all so freaking busy! Who has time any more to go and browse in a book store during their business hours? No, we shop at ten o’clock at night, at home on our computers or e-readers.

Recently, I attended the Novelists Inc. conference. The general consensus from the experts was that fewer book buyers are shopping in bricks and mortar bookstores. Print books are still popular (despite all the warnings that e-books will replace them), but increasingly those print books are being purchased online. And yes, of course e-books continue to grow in popularity.

I confess, I’m an online shopper myself. I often buy e-books, but even when I buy print, I typically shop online. Why? Partly, it’s that ten o’clock at night thing, but also, my local Chapters store didn’t carry all the books I wanted – and the books cost more if I bought them in the store than if I ordered those same books, in print, through that same store’s website. Huh? Well, obviously, as with so many businesses (my office supply store is another), they wanted to encourage me to buy online rather than visit the bricks and mortar store. Why? I imagine it’s because it’s expensive to carry inventory in a real live store.

At the Novelists Inc. conference, there was another interesting discussion around what factors affect purchase decisions. The speakers said that, aside from those “must buy” author lists we all maintain, purchases are significantly influenced by curated recommendations—i.e., recommendations from a trusted source. That source might be a friend, a trusted online community, a trusted reviewer, or a librarian or bookseller. Buzz and momentum are also influences, and many readers take advantage of online features such as “browse inside” or “if you read this, you might like that.” Often, multiple impressions lead up to a purchase, then some final influence is the tipping factor.

This all sounds pretty complicated! Or is book buying maybe easier now? After all, when you walked into a bricks and mortar store ten years ago, how many hundreds of thousands of books were on the shelves? Aside from those on the featured tables and shelves, what chance did you have of finding a particular book, shelved spine out on the third shelf down, in the middle of one bank of the dozens of shelves in that store? Then, as now, if you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s easy to find – if the particular retailer, be it physical store or website has it in stock. Otherwise, how the heck do you stumble across it?

To me, it seems almost miraculous that readers do manage to stumble across my books. I wish more of them did, but I’m sure grateful for the ones that do!

What are your purchase experiences in this new book-buying environment? Where and how did you find the books that are now on your “to be read” shelf or e-reader?

As an early Christmas present, I’d love to give an autographed copy of Body Heat to someone who leaves a comment. Here’s what the story’s all about.

Maura Mahoney’s quiet routine as accountant and acting manager at Cherry Lane retirement community is turned upside down when a bad boy on a Harley roars into her life. Jesse Blue—who happens to be pure sex, walking—had been sentenced to do community service. Maura puts him to work in the garden, outside her office window where she can keep an eye on him. Though each believes the other is way out of their league, they can’t prevent the increasingly steamy fantasies that obsess them. When fantasies turn to reality, will it shatter their tenuous relationship? Or will they surmount the barriers between them and find a deep, lasting love?

As for a “curated recommendation,” how about this, from Publishers Weekly? “Opposites attract in this sizzling contemporary… Fox will have readers fervently hoping for a happily-ever-after.”