Pipes like most things come in a vast range of styles, shapes, finishes and prices. To begin with you need a Mill Reject, these pipes are fine for smoking. The bowl of the pipe is made from Briar Wood taken from the root of the Heath Bush. Briar has a strong resistance to fire and depending on the grain can absorb moisture. The tighter grained and more visually appealing Briar is chosen for more premium pipes, at the other end of the spectrum we have the briar used in Mill Reject pipes literally what left over after the better briars have been used.
The shape and size is personal choice, i would buy a pipe with a small bowl first. As for shape ive been told/read Thin people should smoke a straight pipe and more stout people curved pipes, now i personally think curved pipes are good if you plan on being an active smoker, driving or reading. The curved pipes hang in your mouth comfortably while i find straight pipes a little heavier and you tend to hold it more than a curved pipe. Try to avoid pipes with an abvious coating of varnish this will blister and crack, where as polished pipes will keep there natural look with a little care and more polish. For those still a little unsure many Specialist Tobacconists sell corn cob pipes while not being as long lasting are a cheaper alternative to Briar Wood pipes.