Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

Today, SuperSense was officially launched in the UK so I went into Waterstones in Bath to see my baby. Imagine my horror when I asked the assistant who told me that yes it was in store upstairs filed under “occult & witchcraft” or as my UK editor calls it, the “woo-woo” section. I hurried upstairs and saw it on display in the deserted empty back store next to Wicca for Beginners and How to Douse Your Way to a Fortune. I went ballistic! I stormed up to the counter and demanded an explanation. But as I was reliably informed by the sales assistant, it was in the right section as this was how it was categorized on the Waterstones’s database. 

Apparently somebody had literally judged the book by its cover and not seen that in fact it was a science book about belief. Moreover, I happen to know that Constable & Robinson organized a promotional deal in a 3 for 2 scheme and that it was supposed to be displayed out front of store. 

To his credit, when this information was brought to the attention of the manager, he immediately apologized and set about sorting things out. Moreover, the wonderful Charlotte who reviewed it for the Waterstones’s Quarterly Magazine set about emailing head office to get the listing change to the same category as Gladwell’s “Blink.” 

When I returned an hour later SuperSense was prominently displayed in the “Everyone is talking about..” section. So bravo to Bath Waterstones and yaboo sucks to the person in head office who thought it was a “woo-woo” book.IMG_0156

Maybe I should have gone for a more prosaic title but that would have been boring…. but I would have thought the reference to Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” on the front quote from the New Scientist should have given a clue to the content of my book.

Anyway, let me know if you see “SuperSense” on sale in your local bookstore and which section it appears in. I may have to throw a few more author tantrums!


Filed under book publicity

20 responses to “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

  1. It was in the “Mind & Body” in a bookstore where I looked. So, by other bio & psych stuff. Good times. 🙂

  2. brucehood

    Thanks Sara… That’s better than the “eye of newt” section!

    Good to hear from you. Keep me posted on your progress with your project.

  3. Woo-woo, and boo to you too!

    Well done Bruce; a bit of righteous indignation goes a long way.

  4. poietes

    Good on you, Bruce. Don’t let them put you in the hinterlands.

  5. It was on the “New In Non Fiction” table when you walk right in at B&N, not upstairs in the New Age section where — wait a second! — the Wiccan books that my friends have written are…hmmm…

  6. podblack

    Okay, here’s where I think this is a GOOD thing.

    Yesterday, I went shopping with a friend for books. And we found ‘Trick or Treatment’, one of the best buys in challenging alt med written by Singh and Ernst. It was in the alt med section. People were picking it up and checking it out… and these were the people who were already checking out alt med items.

    They were less likely to head over to the Sciences section, we noticed. Therefore, to have a book that challenged and questions and promoted open-mindedness (rather than having your brain fall out…) on the topic right within the ‘heart’ of it all? Seemed good too me?

    I would also suggest that a book like Supersense, which ‘bridges’ many of the assumptions and attitudes that I’ve seen on both sides of what might be considered a ‘what’s the harm?’ battle, would be quite at home within the Sciences too, of course. But I wouldn’t be too worried about just one store. I’d be hoping that there’d be a dotting of it across the country in both categories? Would it help it reach an even wider audience?

    Suggestion – how about us blog readers all visit one or two local stores and report back on a basic poll (like one you can simply create on and we can see about the attitudes of booksellers to the book nation-wide? Or even internationally? 🙂

  7. brucehood

    Good point Podblack. But my one concern is that most book-buying is all about location, location, location – publishers pay for where a book is positioned.
    Thanks for the suggestion but I fear a poll might be too depressing. Looking forward to the skeptic zone broadcast. I think the real interest in this book will come from the blogosphere.

    Diane..I like most wiccan witches. I live near Glastonbury where we have many witches who bring color to the region. So long as they are just leaping around naked in the woods, I am fine with that.

  8. Now where would a book featuring photos of naked arboreal wiccan-leaping be situated?

    Mind and Body?

    …..Top shelf at “Honest Sajid’s general store and newsagents”?

    • Bruce, LOL 🙂

      NobblySan, you know, there *are* such books. And you can probably get them all at the locations you mentioned, but I think woo-woo wins out.

  9. Diane,

    ‘woo-woo wins out’ – what a great title for an autobiography.

  10. Could be my autobiography, then! 😉

  11. Arno

    I’ll check Borders right away, expect an update in half an hour.

  12. Arno

    ..okay, so it was a tad longer than that: though Supersense is for sale on the website of Borders, it is not on sale in the store. It is supposedly shelved under popular science though.

    Same goes for Blackwell. I’ve got no idea what they assume the category of your book is.

  13. poietes

    I’m hoping to go to my favorite Barnes & Noble in Virginia Beach this weekend. If I make it, I’ll check out where they put you…………

  14. Richard

    I stumbled across your blog last summer and I think I’ve read every entry. There’s been some great entertainment as well as the interesting / informative / provocative stuff: thanks for all of that. I found I was increasingly looking forward to the publication of Supersense, and when you announced in April that it was finally on sale I hurried to Waterstones in Birmingham (UK) where I expected to find it prominently displayed in the Popular Science section. “Not until next month,” I was told. But the hardback? “Don’t know anything about that.” That was a bit of a let down. However, after the UK launch last Saturday I confidently asked for a paperback copy in Borders Birmingham branch today, only to be told (eventually) that they weren’t expecting any until the end of the month. Nearby Waterstones didn’t have any either, though they’d had a couple of dozen orders and said they should have ‘loads’ within a week. Another disappointment, then. I’m sure it will have been worth the wait when I finally get my hands on a copy, but… Maybe I should have ordered one off the net?

  15. brucehood

    Dear Richard,
    Thank you for the kind words. I am going to pass this on to Waterstones’s head office. Heads will roll! I hope it’s worth the wait but if you have enjoyed the blog, then I am sure you will like the book.
    Thanks for your support.

  16. Popped into Waterstones in Worthing today. Found it eventually tucked away at the back of the store under “Academic subjects”. You’ll be pleased to know I paid full price too 🙂 – wasn’t stickered as part of the 3 for 2 scheme. Certainly wasn’t under the ‘everyone is talking about’ or any other promo display.

  17. brucehood

    Thanks for that Tom… It would appear that the mechanisms of bookstore promotion are more variable than one would imagine.

    BTW thank you for the generous review on your site. That was very kind

    I feel I must owe you the price of SuperSense as Waterstones’ over-charged you.

  18. PLeasure Bruce – it’s a great book, I hope it does well! (You can keep that two quid as a downpayment on the next one 😉 )

  19. Mike

    I live in the U. S. and I found the book in the New Age section of my local Books-A-Million. It didn’t take me long to figure out that wasn’t right. I’m glad I found it though. It’s a great book. Thanks for writing it.

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