This is Sakumichi. And some random books. And this post is about an idea I’ve been toying with for the past couple of weeks or so, ever since I finished reading The Diary of a Bookseller and tried to sign up for the author’s random book club, only to discover it was so successful they weren’t taking on new subscribers. If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em, I thought.
So, here is my elevator pitch:
Sign up for a year, and every month I’ll send you a hand-picked good book from my collection with a key element of surprise: every selection will be picked by our cat, Sakumichi. You won’t have any idea what book he has picked until it arrives on your welcome mat in the post, like a half-eaten dormouse.
Why would you possibly want that (a random good book, not a mouse)?
- It recreates the sense of discovery that you get from browsing quirky, independent bookstores, that you are missing in your life if you are, like me, out in Japan and only have access to books from Amazon.
- It gets you out of your reading comfort zone to help you discover new interests.
- Every book sold allows me to add two more to the collection (currently around 1,000 books), increasing the awesome randomness for you, and will help keep Sakumichi in catnip for the rest of the month.
- Of the 12 books, roughly half would be fiction, half non-fiction.
- And you get to keep every book.
But of course the book selections wouldn’t be completely random. All of them would be good condition books. None of them would be Book Club, Readers Union or Reader’s Digest reprints. And all would be “good” books — meaning ones I would read myself because of their good writing, good story, interesting point of view or any other factor X that marks a book as worth keeping, reading or giving to a friend.
The only question remaining is how much this service would be worth to you. I’ve set up a PayPal account and have been training Sakumichi in preparation for launch, but I’d like to know what you think of this idea. Would you be interested in joining this club? If not, why not? How much would you be willing to pay? Would you prefer premium choices (like hardbacks or rare first editions) at premium prices or cheap and cheerful paperbacks at rock-bottom prices? Would you prefer your randomness to be only genre-specific (like only random mysteries or random business books)?
I’d really appreciate it if you sent me an email with your thoughts. And so would Sakumichi too.