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Blind Date with a Book

A dive into retail cynicism.

By Stephanie Van OrmanPublished 8 months ago 3 min read
Blind Date with a Book
Photo by Natalia Arkusha on Unsplash

Have you ever gone on a blind date with a book?

I haven't.

But I like surprises and I like books... or at least I think I like books. So, in theory, I should love the concept of a blind date with a book.

They have them in bookstores. It's a rack full of books that have been wrapped in brown paper and the only hint about what book is inside is the genre that has been stickered to the front. The idea is that you don't judge the book by its cover. So, you get instantly stripped of your shallowness by buying one of their blind date books. Pretty good bargain, eh?

Except I write books, I design book covers, and I have worked in a bookstore. And I have some thoughts about this system.

As an author of books, I do not want someone to read my book who will view the purchase of it as a waste of their money. From my perspective, the person reading my book should have every opportunity to turn it down. If they don't like the cover, they shouldn't buy it. If they don't like the synopsis on the back, they shouldn't buy it. If they don't like the first page, they shouldn't buy it. If they flip to a random spot in the middle and they don't like what they read there, they shouldn't buy it. AND... a lot of authors may disagree with what I'm about to say, but if the reader flips to the last page of the book and they don't like what they read, then they shouldn't buy it. Seducing an innocent person into buying a book they'd never read otherwise and offering it as a surprise is a SCAM! And can have very negative consequences for an author in the form of a bad review, which the author DOES NOT NEED.

As the designer of book covers, I have to say that I'd feel crippled by such a plan. I can't interest someone with my cover? WHY NOT? My covers are fabulous. I have been writing online for over twenty years. I remember when we wrote without any graphic representation at all and we had to interest people based only on our synopsis. That was fine. We worked with that, but we've come so much further since then. Not only that, but my books make other books in bookstores look bad. Not all publishers put effort into their book covers. Why, the book I am reading right now is a bunch of scribbles in contrasting colors and means literally nothing. If I popped into a bookstore and saw they'd wrapped my book up to hide the cover, I'd be cranky.

As someone trying to keep a bookstore afloat, I'm all for it. I'll tell you exactly what I'd do. I'd take all the books that have been on the shelf so long they either need to be sent back to the publisher or dramatically reduced in price. Then I'd wrap up two dozen of them with three dollars worth of brown paper, make the display, and charge as close to full price as I thought I could get away with. The books inside the wrappings would have ugly covers, boring plots, and a picture of the author on the back cover with lipstick on her teeth (it is a common beef of mine that authors do not seem to know how to apply lipstick and no photographer in the world has the guts to tell them so). They would be the unsellable books sold for full price to a sucker who will read anything.

You would have a blind date with a book that no one wants.

I buy a lot of books, but I would never buy a book I knew nothing about... unless it had a pretty cover.


About the Creator

Stephanie Van Orman

I write novels like I am part-printer, part book factory, and a little girl running away with a balloon. I'm here as an experiment and I'm unsure if this is a place where I can fit in. We'll see.

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Comments (1)

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  • ema8 months ago

    I don't know if I would buy it, but it's like when someone gives you a book... It's a leap into the dark, maybe we could discover stories and authors that we like.

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