Do you read the "About the Author" part of the book? Do you read it before you buy a book, and does it influence your purchase? Or do you read it afterwards? Would you make a decision to buy more or fewer books by a given author because you read it and you have things in common, or have a huge disagreement with some life decision they've made? What about the authors photo - do you do more than glance? Does it influence you to purchase or not?
In fairness - here's my answers. I never bother reading "About the Author" unless the book is a work of non-fiction and I'm interested in the authors credentials on the subject. If I read it at all, it's at the end or in the flap, and just a glance in passing. The same is true of the photo. I have to admit, I am not at all interested in the author, whether she is married or single, has two kids or ten, horses, or rattlesnakes, lives in Alaska or Mexico. Now and then I may be somewhat influenced to pick up a book about the southwest written by a New Mexico author - but probably that has more to do with the way my local library categorizes and displays books than a personal preference of any real strength.
Every book or article you read on the Internet will tell you when self-publishing it is imperative that you have a photo and an About The Author section, including links to your profiles on social networks like twitter, Facebook and so on. There is great emphasis on having a fan base who is intimately involved with your every waking moment.
Do you follow authors you like on the social networks? Do you want to feel like this author is your intimate friend and see photos of the new grand baby or play Words With Friends with them? Or are you really interested in their writing process, how far along they are in the new book, what writing software they use, etc?
As a reader, I may like or follow if I enjoyed the book enough to want to know when the author has a new book coming out. I might, but Amazon will usually notify me when someone puts out a new book if I have bought several of their books previously so normally I won't bother. I don't care if they had a baby, or moved, but let me know when the next book is out. That's pretty much it for me.
Personally, I dislike attention. I do not want to be standing in line at the grocery store and have a stranger gasp, "Oh YOU are Summer Foovay - I loved/hated your book!" It's nothing personal - I'm really glad if you liked my book - but the older I get, the less contact I want with other humans. I write, I draw, you like my work or you don't. If you enjoy it, that makes me happy. Buy the next one, too, please. If you want to email me how much and why you liked my book, I'll probably print it out and hang it on the wall. But public attention makes me cringe and want to vanish. It's a personal problem, I realize that, but it isn't going to change either.
The logical extension of that is I don't like writing an About The Author for myself, or choosing a photo to share or asking you to friend me on Facebook and Twitter. In the past I heeded all that Internet business advice about making connections and such, and I met some cool people but after nearly fifteen years of networking I don't think I've really seen all that much benefit of it, nor do I think it's going to make a lot of difference in what I have settled to doing which is writing and drawing mainly for the Kindle. So I'm thinking of flying in the face of convention and simply leaving that out of all my future self-published work. Think it will make any difference?
Seriously, I want to hear from you.