The secret power of the sticker

Books with stickers
Books with stickers Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

Have you ever thought about how the sticker on the front cover of a new book influences your desire to buy it?

This week we've been thinking about marketing techniques that publishers use to sell more books. Here's another one - stickers. Have you ever thought about how the sticker on the front cover of a new book influences your desire to buy it?

Are you more likely to buy a book if the sticker says that it is a "hot read", or includes a "thrilling extract" from a new book inside?

Abigail Gibbs's new novel, The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire is a great example. The sticker on the front cover says that the book is "the SEXIEST romance you'll read this year".

The novel's title lets readers know that this is a book for vampire fans. But the sticker suggests that the story is also sexy and romantic.

It's not necessarily the best vampire fiction you will read this year, but apparently it's the "sexiest romance". Cue gorgeous undead characters, and love-affair between mortal and vampire.

Similarly, a new fantasy-fiction coming this October is Shadows by Ilsa J Bick. The sticker on this book makes the impressive claim that the novel is "as good as The Hunger Games or your money back".

Woah, wait a second, do you mean Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games? The phenomenally successful trilogy? You're out of your mind!!!

But are they? Or is this yet another clever tactic to encourage more people to buy this particular YA book?
It's not the first time it's been done, and there's certainly no shortage of fantasy fiction. So, what is going to make you choose one book over another?

The beauty of the sticker is that it plants in your mind the idea that this book could be as good as the Hunger Games. So you buy it, in hope that you'll be investing in a hugely enjoyable read. But, there's a chance that you may disagree with the sticker, and attempt to follow up on it's promise of your money back.

However, always beware the small print. Of course, it's not easy, and you can't just take the book back to the shop. You are directed to a website, which informs you that you must post the book back to the publishers, with your receipt, and a letter explaining why you thought that Shadows was not as good at the Hunger Games.

Oh. Can you really be bothered?

Because being totally realistic, are you going to store the receipt somewhere safe, take the time to write a letter, then physically post it, to claim back the £6.99 you spent on the book? Probably not.

So, even if you thought that it probably wasn't as good as The Hunger Games, you have bought the book, and read it. Well done publishers, mission accomplished.

What do you think? Does the sticker make you want to buy the book more or less? Let us know by emailing us at

Briony Chappell
Friday 14 September 2012 15.26 BST