Home > About reading, Personal Posts > Catching up with #BookshopDay

Catching up with #BookshopDay

I know that #BookshopDay was yesterday but I couldn’t visit a bookstore then. 

Today I was wandering in the Vieux Lille when I spotted an original independent bookstore, the Librairie Tirloy. In the shop’s windows the books are presented covered with brown paper. On the paper, the libraire has written the first sentence of the book which is undercover. Each book I’d displayed near the picture of its author. 

The caption in the frame says “Laissez-vous séduire dès la première phrase…” (“Give yourself [to the book] from the first sentence”)

I think it’s an interesting initiative. The reader is not influenced by the cover but by the actual words of the writer. What do you think of this idea?

  1. October 9, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Though I would not like to see this become universal, I think that on a limited basis this is a neat idea, I am glad that this bookshop tried it.

    One reason that I would not like this to become widespread id that a lot of talent goes into book cover design. It is an art form on its own right.


    • October 9, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      I hadn’t thought about book cover design but you’re right. That said, as Marina mentions it in her comments, in France some publishers have covers without illustrations.
      There’s just the name of the writer and the title of the book. The famous publisher Gallimard does it for their hardcovers. Some paperback editions are like this as well. We’re used to it and for me it’s classy because Gallimard only publishes excellent writers and has a stellar reputation.


  2. October 9, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Brian has a point.
    The first thing I thought was that it was a clever idea. I didn’t know that it was Bookshop Day btw.
    Putting things in plain brown covers has a particular connotation over here (booze in brown bags, dirty books in brown covers etc), so there’s that aspect of things too.


    • October 9, 2016 at 8:57 pm

      I agree with you, Brian has a point.

      I didn’t think about the image conveyed by this brown paper in America. I’ve seen the brown bags for booze. I didn’t know about dirty books in brown covers. I guess the libraire used that paper for the same reasons: it’s cheap and opaque.
      You’re right, it’s not a positive association of ideas, is it?


      • October 9, 2016 at 10:21 pm

        Yes but still catchy. I have an acquaintance who covers the crime novels she reads as she’s afraid that the content will draw comments. She uses brown wrapping..


        • October 11, 2016 at 8:30 pm

          I could understand that with erotica but why do that with crime fiction? Who cares?


  3. October 9, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Of course, many books in France (with certain publishers, at least) still have plain white covers, so you have to read the first paragraph to get a feel for it anyway… And, while I do enjoy some of the gorgeous covers, at other times I feel they are misleading and put a reader off a book.


    • October 9, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      As I said to Brian, I find the simple covers of Gallimard classy but that’s because it is associated with the idea of quality literature.
      The Série Noire has also all black covers.
      I often think that covers are misleading too. Some tend to overdo on drama or romance. The risk of mushy increases if the writer is a woman or the book targeted to female readers.


  4. October 11, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    I rather like the idea. I saw something in Italy at Feltrinelli where they didn’t even include title, author’s name or a quote. They just had a single sentence description of the book and a brown paper wrapper. The idea was to encourage the reader to take a risk.


    • October 11, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      I think it’s a good idea to raise curiosity about books. Covers get in the way sometimes.
      But Brian and Guy have good points as well about the image of the brown wrapper and the design of book covers.


  5. October 14, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    It’s a interesting idea. As Brian mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t want to see this as a universal approach to displaying books, but as a way of arousing curiosity it’s an intriguing concept.

    In the wine market, some retailers offer ‘lucky dip’ blind cases as a way of encouraging buyers to take a chance on something new and unknown. In some instances, the region might be known (e.g. Lucky Dip Burgundy Case or Lucky Dip French whites); in others it might be totally random. They’re actually quite popular with customers as long as the retailer is trustworthy – if not, then it could be seen as a way of offloading sub-standard stock.


    • October 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

      I think it’s a good way to catch people’s attention. After all, I spent some time in front of the window to read what was on these brown covers. In France, we have some publishers who don’t have images on their book covers. It’s not the majority though.

      About wine, I can see the parallel. I heard some retailers also organise wine tasting where people are blindfolded.


      • October 16, 2016 at 8:55 am

        Yes, blind tastings are quite popular in the wine world. In most cases, the wines are covered up so as to disguise the labels and the shape of the bottles (as the latter can provide some clues about the region or style). It’s a fun thing to do every now and again.


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