Clever Experiment Proves We Do Judge Books by Their Covers

Brian Brushwood and Justin Young, hosts of the NSFW Podcast, managed to push their $0.99 e-book to the #4 position on iTunes, without having to write a single word. How did they do it? Easy, they included lots and lots of sex.

You’ve probably heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic novel that took the world by storm a few months back. At one point it was all everyone was talking about, although not all critics were impressed with the quality of writing. Still, it became a bestseller and managed to drag other erotic literature to the top with it, whether it was good or bad. Brian Brushwood, one of the hosts of the NSFW Podcast noticed this trend while he was trying to push his book on magic tricks, Scam School Book 2: Fire. Looking at the iTunes chart he discovered the top 10 was all erotic fiction. Even established contemporary writers couldn’t break into the top 10 because of all the erotic books that were capitalizing on the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. He thought “hey, we could do that”, and that’s how their clever experiment began.

With the help of his colleague Justin Young, they set out to create their own erotic novel. But they new nothing about writing this kind of stuff, so they asked their podcast listeners to send them chapters for the book, featuring a main character and lots of badly-written sex scenes. Then they put the chapters together, created a cover that looked a lot like that of Fifty Shades of Grey, attributed it to a fictional writer (Patricia Harkins-Bradley), and posted it on iTunes. They asked their readers to buy it and push it up the charts a little, and then waited. Entitled “The Diamond Club“, the book was completely written by the Internet, it was a “rambling incoherent mess”, but it did have three things going for it:

  • A Fifty Shade of Grey-inspired cover
  • characters with trendy jobs (cupcake artist, blogger, etc.)
  • lots and lots of sex

Are these things enough to turn a book into a best-seller? Yes, they are. The Diamond Club managed to climb to #4 on the iTunes chart, despite all the 1-star reviews from people who actually read it, just because it resembled every other book on there. Truth be told, they did get a lot of help from their readers who bought the book and helped it crack the top 10, but momentum took over from there, and people started to buy it because other people were buying it. Reportedly, Brushwood and Young have already earned over $20,000 from their crappy novel.


This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In 1969, 24 journalists put together Naked Came the Stranger, a novel full of sex, an incoherent plot, bad writing, meaningless dialogue and more sex, just to prove how low the American literary culture had sunk. It also became a best-seller.

via Museum of Hoaxes

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