Have you ever heard the expression, don’t judge a book by its cover? You should not base buying a book on just an interesting image on the front of the cover but look at the books description when buying on-line. Jane Friedman a marketing analyst recommends “an author who wants to sell more books, may want to learn how to advertise through Amazon Marketing Service” (Friedman 52). Marketing tactics and strategies are designed to entice the potential buyer and draw them in to a must have attitude. The authors note is usually infused into the book’s description to give it a sense of credibility and give you a taste of what to expect. Into the Wild was written by Jon Krakauer to unravel the mystery of Chris McCandless’s death after his decomposed body was found in an abandoned bus in Alaska. Those who are interested in finding out what happened to McCandless would be the young men “who relate to complex bonds between father and son”, people with the mindset of wanting to partake in high risk activities or those who just want to simply compare the book to the movie will be lured to the buy of this bestseller (Krakauer 2). The ghost writer’s main focus in the book description is to make the book sound interesting enough to buy it but the writer takes it a step further using rhetoric to appeal to the audience’s emotions through pathos, logos and ethos. The description of Jon Krakauer’s book Into the Wild conveys a tone of mystery and intrigue, joyfulness, and extreme sadness. Marketing services like Amazon have used marketing strategies to sell books online for many years. The use of rhetorical techniques in the book description of Into the Wild is to entice the consumer to purchase the book but being aware of the different appeals that are used in the book description will help the consumer make a conscientious choice before purchasing the book.

The ghost writer uses text from the book, to strategically use pathos to play on the audience’s emotions. In the first paragraph the text appeals to the reader’s sympathy and curiosity, having the reader’s wonder what happened to McCandless so long ago. A mysterious, suspenseful tone describes, a family background, what Christopher did before his death, and how his decomposed body was found. The purpose of this is to draw the reader in and make them aware that the book is based on a true story. This would attract an audience who is interested in reading non-fiction genre, also ignite the curiosity of the reader who may have heard about Christopher McCandless’s death. Therefore, the book would shed some light on what happened. The writer’s gives his thesis stating, “how McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild”, this confirms the tragic event that had happened to a once promising young man and entices the audience to read a story that they would enjoy and always remember (Amazon.com).

              The following paragraph introduces factual evidence of McCandless’s life. He is described as “an educated, young man from a well-to-do family” (Krakauer 1). Leaving behind his family because of issues created by his father, “he gives away his money to charity, abandons his car in the desert and gives up most of his possession to create a new identity for himself” (Krakauer 1). McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp ventures off into a carefree lifestyle with one thing in mind, to echo his life to his heroes Jack London and John Muir. The text gives substance to Christopher’s character and serves a purpose to intrigue readers with similar ideas of leaving behind the chains of society and vanish into a life of adventure. Glass Stephan wrote in State of Nature that he and his friends “admired the pure way Alex lived out his wanderlust and desire to be in nature. Briefly he lived my fantasy and dream of leaving New York and living among the caribou” (Glass 42). The author sets a joyous and celebrative tone describing McCandless’s conquest of breaking free from the rules of society, shedding his exterior, and creating a new life for himself through a journey of self-awareness and discovery of one’s own strength and vulnerability.

            The introduction of Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild, is the focus of the third paragraph. Jon Krakauer being an Academy Award winner in literature, a writer for Outside magazine, and experienced mountaineer gives credibility to the book description. Through his own personal endeavors, he relates to McCandless in a way that allows him to arise like no other to the challenge of telling Christopher McCandless story. According to the writer of the book description Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless’s short life” (Amazon .com). The informal tone suggests the purpose of this part of this introduction to the author is to connect the readers to the author and acknowledge his investigative journalistic skills. The writer writes that “Krakauer take an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men and the complex charged bond between fathers and sons” (Amazon.com). The impact that ethos has on the audience is quiet alluring. The writer targets a specific group of readers that are be able to relate to Krakauer or who understand to Christopher McCandless’s attraction to the wilderness.

            In the final paragraph of the book description the writer returns to the use of pathos and appeals to the reader’s empathetic sentiments by humanizing McCandless. The writer uses a sad tone depicting Christopher McCandless as a typical human being who makes mistakes like everyone else, who did not wish to die but simply live his life by his own rules. In the book description the writer states “when McCandless innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and dismissed for his naivete, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edged” (Amazon.com). The purpose is to persuade the readers to have compassion and feel sympathy for the death of McCandless. The impact on the audience is permanent and those whose curiosity wants to discover what lies in the pages of the book are drawn to the purchase.

            In summary Amazon Marketing Services helps vendors standout against their competitors and drive traffic to their book description pages. The authors in our textbook claim that “most of the nonliterary material that you will read is designed to argue, report, or to do both” (Barnet et al.180). The author of the book description for Into the Wild effectively blends rhetorical strategies such as pathos, logos and ethos to persuade the audience to buy the book.  The book description is directed toward a specific audience. The type of genre and emotional appeal play in an important role in the writing of the book description. Marketing analyst Jane Friedman writes in her article that it is important “to know enough about your target readers to understand how they discover books to read” (Friedman 52). The incorporation of different tones throughout the book description helped set an emotional mood, delivers facts about McCandless and conveys credibility of the author. The authors of our textbook claim for analyzing a text is to consider “what appeals does the author make to reason, to emotion and to the sense that the speaker is trustworthy” (Barnet et al.181).  The ability of being able to recognize rhetorical strategies used in the book’s description will help the consumer when purchasing their next book online and give them a sense of confidence that they made the right choice for their reading pleasure.


Barnet, Sylvan, et al. From Critical Thinking to Argument. Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017

Friedman, Jane. “Reducing Marketing Anxiety and Confusion.” Publishers Weekly, vol. 266, no. 4, Jan. 2019, pp. 52–53.

Glass, Stephen. “State of Nature.” New Republic, vol. 218, no. 3, Jan. 1998, p. 42

 Into the Wild. Amazon. 20 Jan. 1997, https://www.amazon.com/Into-Wild-Jon-Krakauer/dp/0385486804

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York, Anchor Books A Division of Random House, Inc,1997.

Book Description

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir.  In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash.  He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented.  Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away.  Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless’s short life.  Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless’s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris.  He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless’s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding–and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer’s storytelling blaze through every page.