South Carolina bookstore encourages customers to 'trust' the staff

South Carolina bookstore Fiction Addiction recently launched a program called Trust Fall which asks customers to pre-order, sight unseen, a book specially recommended by the store's owner.

'The Martian' by Andy Weir was the subject of a 'trust fall' program launched by South Carolina bookstore Fiction Addiction, in which the owner asked customers to pre-order a book without knowing what it was.

Many of us have probably eagerly solicited a recommendation from a bookstore owner.

Jill Hendrix, owner of Greenville, S.C.’s Fiction Addiction, recently decided to capitalize on that special relationship between customer and bookstore owner and created the “Trust Fall” program for her store. In an e-mail to customers, Hendrix said she had fallen in love with a book that would be released in February but worried that either the title or the cover of the book would dissuade some customers from picking it up.

“What I want to know is whether you'll agree to pre-order this book, sight unseen, just based on our love for it if we give you a full money-back guarantee if you read it but don't love it as much as we have,” Hendrix wrote in the e-mail.

According to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness, the program did extremely well, with 62 copies sold. (By comparison, Fiction Addiction sold 28 copies of big-name title “The Signature of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert and 70 copies of “The Death of Santini” by Pat Conroy, both over the course of five months.) And Hendrix said only one customer returned the book, which was “The Martian” by Andy Weir (check out our post on the sci-fi title here). Hendrix said she could see the initiative as an ongoing program.

“I think I'm going to survey the participants at the end of March and see whether there would be any interest in this as an ongoing idea.... perhaps the Trust Fall Bookclub,” she told Shelf Awareness.

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