Blurbless: last week a friend showed me a recent book by Hélène Cixous, published in France: good paper, plain white cover with flaps, name of author, title, name of publisher. No blurb, no quotes.
The rarer the books, the higher the prices: the Sybilline Books – ‘Centuries ago, concurrent with the 50th Olympiad, not long before the expulsion of Rome’s kings, an old woman “who was not a native of the country” (Dionysius) arrived incognita in Rome. She offered nine books of prophecies to King Tarquin; and as the king declined to purchase them, owing to the exorbitant price she demanded, she burned three and offered the remaining six to Tarquin at the same stiff price, which he again refused, whereupon she burned three more and repeated her offer. Tarquin then relented and purchased the last three at the full original price, whereupon she “disappeared from among men” (Dionysius).’
They’re operating with style, both the French publisher and the old woman. Would it work? I don’t think I’m brave enough to try.