Recommendations loom extremely high in influencing what books a person picks up to read. That's why there are library reading lists, blurbs on the book jacket...and even literature-oriented blogs like this one. It is also why people (in droves) buy the book just praised on last night's talk show, the NY Times Top Ten, or yesterday's Oprah, Dr. Phil or Larry King broadcast.
And beyond personal recommendations, even brand names get into the game. Up till now, those brand names have generally been the publishers or booksellers themselves. But there's a new player on the scene -- and, since Barnes & Noble has made a lot of money selling coffee, Starbucks is looking to use their trendy, upscale reputation to sell books.