Recently, Miss Snark's First Victim invited readers to submit the first 25 words of their WIPs for critique. I posted mine and got some interesting feedback. (Sorry, not linking to it, since I've got to agree that it isn't my best.) The point was for the commenters to say whether or not they were hooked.
Now, this might just be me, but I can almost never tell if I'm hooked by a book within the first 25 words. I usually need the first 150 or so to figure it out. Really, at least one paragraph, sometimes more. But, rarely will I know whether I'm interested or not in the first 25 words. (If you've scared me off that fast, holy hopscotch, what did you do?) Usually, at such an early stage, most are in limbo, some are on probation, everyone is still awaiting judgment.
My book selection process is simple and gleaned from how agents pull books from the slush. (I kid you not, learning how agents pick books made me better at picking books up at the store. I now am better equipped to select my own reading material):
1) Read the summary on the back cover or book jacket. Basically, read query. (Books without 'queries' tick me off. I resent being asked to make a decision with basically no information.)
2) Read first page or so--
a)If I don't like it, put it back.
b)If I sort of like it, read a bit more (like requesting a partial) or set it back on the shelf to see if I like it enough to think about it (considering a partial/full MS).
c)If I love it, select for purchase/borrowing.
Now, for you guys. How do you decide which buys to buy/borrow? How long does it take you to decide if something is good/your type of book or not? Where did you get this decision making style?