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4th April 2022

Blind date with a book: a marketing ploy?

Blind date with a book: a marketing ploy or a way to branch out of your reading comfort zone? And can you guess Blackwell’s mystery book from a sentence?
Blind date with a book: a marketing ploy?
Photo: Hannah Wellock @ The Mancunion

I recently found myself in Blackwell’s looking at books I can’t afford, a weekly occurrence, when I stumbled upon a shelf of ‘blind date’ books. 

The concept is essentially to not judge a book by its cover. The books are all wrapped in pretty paper with a short description, sometimes this is a short blurb or a few keywords to describe the themes of the book. The idea is to pick up a book with themes you’re attracted to and read something you normally wouldn’t. 

This has become increasingly popular over the past year with Blackwell’s, Oxfam and plenty of Etsy stores jumping on the bandwagon. The Mancunion even had our very own “Blind date with a book” at Christmas. Our version was more to share some of our favourite books with each other without revealing the title and, in the name of sustainability, we encouraged using second-hand books or one that you’re ready to let go. 

Whilst it’s an interesting concept and you may end up reading something you would never normally pick up, there’s a sceptical part of me that wonders if it’s all just a marketing strategy to get rid of unpopular books or extra stock. 

The book that I chose when wrapped up and unknown was £7.50 and when unwrapped the original pricing was £9.99. This got me thinking, why would bookshops sell a book for less than it’s worth? 

The description read “A timely post-apocalyptic novel set in an America where climate change has ravaged the country. The story follows a family struggling to survive despite poverty and political upheaval.” Any guesses? 

This sounds interesting (the reason I picked it up), but is it going to be my next favourite book, or am I going to be taking it to a charity shop, unread, in the next few months? Is the phenomenon of a blind date with a book a positive initiative encouraging people to branch out, read more and not judge a book by its cover, or is it yet another marketing strategy? Maybe it’s both.

Either way, this marketing ploy has me hooked and I can’t wait to read Blackwell’s Mystery Book 11. Stay tuned for a review. 

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