They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover — but what about the title, author and plot? In a bid to lure customers back from the ebook market, one plucky book store has begun selling novels that are completely wrapped in brown paper. A few vague words are your only hint to what lies within...
It's no secret that book stores are doing it tough, with Collins, Angus & Robinson and Borders all shutting up shops in recent years. We therefore admire the sheer gumption of Elizabeth’s Bookshops in NSW and WA, which is attempting to sell its wares sight unseen to indecisive customers — they call it the paperback "blind date".
"A lot of people who come into our store don't know what they want to buy so they just browse or ask for a recommendation," explained Ryan, an Elizabeth’s Bookshop employee from the Pitt Street store in Sydney.
"One of our staff members thought it would be a good idea to set up a kind of lucky-dip table where you get to pick a book at random. I was really skeptical that it wouldn't work at all, but it's been really successful. It's actually a really good promotional tool for our stores."
All 'blind date' book covers are completely covered in brown paper — with just a few vague word cues scrawled on the front to give you an idea about the book's content.
"We just offer a broad topic which hints at the genre, so if you feel like reading an adventure or romance you can search for the relevant word cues."
Our inner cynic immediately suspected a ploy to offload unwanted stock, but the company assures us that all blind date books are "quality". Mind you, that's obviously a matter of personal opinion — I thought Moby Dick was rubbish, and that's widely regarded to be the best book in the English language. There's no accounting for taste, as they say.
Nevertheless, it's certainly a novel idea (cough) and it seems to be bringing in additional revenue which any brick-and-mortar book store needs to be thankful for.
Would you buy a book completely unseen? Let us know what you think about this curious marketing gimmick in the comments section below.