I ask this question because I'm really fascinated by the whole process people go through when choosing what they read. There are just SO MANY BOOKS OUT THERE! How on earth do you choose?? I know that, like everything else in publishing, choosing a book is subjective. For me, in the past choosing a book would be a very immediate, personal thing. I'd browse through the bookstore, sometimes picking a book up because the cover called to me, sometimes because the backcover blurb spoke to me. But that was when I had time to browse. As my reading (and choosing what to read) time diminished with each successive child, my book buying selection process changed. Buying a book became more about whether it had been recommended to me by a trusted friend who I knew wouldn't steer me in the wrong direction because I just didn't have the time to spend on a book that wasted those precious few reading hours I had left.
Now, my process has changed yet again. As part of a larger writing community I want to read what that community is writing - to support them for sure, but also to learn and be aware of what works and sometimes doesn't work in the YA and Romance genres. As for reviews and award nominations, I've sometimes been influenced to buy a book because I've read a review or seen a book's been nominated for an especially prestigious award (I bought Beautiful Creatures soley because of the William C. Morris YA Debut award nomination). But those things usually influence me very little.
So here's an interesting question to all my writer friends: if you had to choose, which would you want the most for your book: a great cover and blurb, word of mouth recommendations or awesome reviews/awards? Sure, sure, it would be nice to have them all. But you have to choose only one.
Me? I think I want that "She told two friends, and they told two friends" kind of buzz and momentum. You know - the kind of publicity you can't buy. I'm still very happy with my book cover, for sure. But friend to friend recommendation? That would be awesome.