|Would you? Image from Blind Date With a Book|
Blind Date With a Book
My husband is not a man for a blind date, of any kind, but even he was tempted but the latest book marketing ploy. It’s a blind date with a book.
I don’t know whose idea it was, but it’s a cracker. A book sitting on a supermarket shelf, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string, tempting you with just five phrases. And he bought into it. ‘Shall I?’ he asked, turning the top one over in his hands and dropping it in the basket without waiting for the reply.
Sold, in just seven words. Inheritance. Romanovs. Secret diary. Revolution. Love lost.
I won’t say the excitement was mounting as we drove home. That would be a little bit of an overstatement. But when we’d unpacked the shopping and he’d picked up his little treasure and untied the string, I was hovering at his shoulder to see what he’d brought home.
If it had been a real blind date, it would have been an unmitigated disaster. He’d have hung on out of politeness and endured a terrible evening, leaving the restaurant vowing never to date again . He’s a reader of suspense and history. He loves Nordic noir and Robert Harris, historical detective stories set in Berlin and in the alternative history of Western Europe. What he got was touted itself as perfect for readers of Kate Morton when he’d have preferred something for readers of Philip Kerr.
The book in question is Gill Paul’s The Secret Wife. Neither of us had heard of it before and it looks, in fairness, a very good book. It has rave reviews. But it isn’t the book for him, nor even for me.
What went wrong? I think if you’re going to sell a book in a poke, you really have to get the description right — and the missing thing is the genre. Okay, you can say that ‘love lost’ suggests a romance, but does it? He didn’t think so and neither do I, and in fact I don’t know that the description really helps very much.
The concept might work a little better if the genre is clear, and it might not matter if you’re someone who enjoys reading outside your comfort zone or whose comfort zone is admirably broad. But for me there’s no substitute for browsing before you buy. The Silent Wife is sitting on a side table in the living room, waiting for me to get fed up and read it so that the money wasn’t wasted. maybe I’ll enjoy it, maybe not.
I'd try this kind of blind-dating myself, I think, and I'd recommend it to an adventurous reader. But I'd pay more attention to the five key phrases.