During my semester abroad in France, I would occasionally hang out in the English book store, Book in Bar. Whereas my ability in the dominant French language was average, it felt very comforting to be able to browse titles and back-covers in my own native language.Whereas most of the books were out of college student price-range (and I was used to getting used paperbacks on Amazon Prime), I would still grab une cafe and paw through the titles on display. I noticed one shelf where books seemed to be wrapped in brown paper bags and tied with ribbon, adorned with a few words regarding plot or genre. While I thought this way unique to this book store, I have found out that this has become a trend back in the United States as well!
“Blind Date with a Book” is sweeping libraries and bookstores all over the country.
Blogger Modern Miss Darcy explains how she also came upon a similar display as I had at her local bookstore in her Blog Post, here:
“While I was paying, I asked the clerk about the brown paper packages. She said they’d only started the week before, and customers and employees were both loving it. Plus, those books were selling”.
She explains how often readers will not choose a book based on an unimpressive visual or description:
“The joy of bookselling is putting great books in the hands of readers, but it’s too easy for readers to be dissuaded from buying a great book because of a lackluster cover, or weak flap copy. Some wonderful books are impossible to describe in any way that doesn’t make them sound terribly boring”.
Now, with the Blind Date with a Book, readers don’t have an option. It’s FUN! They get to browse the paper bags and see what peaks their interest. In most cases, all books are chosen by librarians or employees at the institution; and they aren’t just classics, but real books that these readers have enjoyed enough to recommend to others.
At Dimmick Memorial Library in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, they have taken up the same display. Library Assistant, Chris Becker, commented that, “People are creatures of habit… A lot of people pick a genre and stick with it. This is their chance to read new things and try new authors…. I think it appeals to our more adventurous readers”. (Times News Article)
I think this is a very interesting way to expand literacy for readers. To think that it is so cool that one person could have a whole world opened up to them, and read a type of book they would have never picked for themselves through this idea. I also like that it encourages readers to buy a book because it is fun and is a surprise! I hope to see this at other local bookstores soon…. I’ll have to pick a book up for myself!