Actually judging the cover
As an idiom, “Never judge a book by its cover,” has its merits. Few among us would advocate for pre-judging a situation or a person until one has all the relevant facts, no matter how attractive the wrapping.
But as a way to determine what to read, there’s little doubt that the cover of the dust jacket or the blurb on the back have a significant impact on what might get picked up off of crowded book shelves.
A cornucopia of books
Bookshelves are getting more and more crowded all the time, by the way.
In 2010, Google counted all of the books in the world at that point; they identified just under 130 million.
With an average of 800,000 books, including those self-published, hitting the market each year in the United States alone, that number has risen drastically since then.
Dallas indie bookstore, The Wild Detectives, is taking that need to appeal to the prospective reader and to do so quickly to heart. Late last year, the company launched what they call ‘Litbaits.’
Litbaits are pithy retellings of a novel, cleverly packaged for a clickbait-familiar audience, accustomed to ingesting reviews in bite sizes, rather than long pieces.
Litbait’s tagline boasts, “You fell for the bait, now fall for the book.”
Modern taglines, old stories
The Litbait Facebook page posts, what are ostensibly, links to news stories ripped from the headlines: “You’ll never guess what happened to this Kansas teen after a Tornado destroys her home”, “New Synthetic drug is turning Londoners into violent maniacs: Your city could be next”, and “Teenage girl tricked boyfriend into killing himself” are but a few postings to date.
For some commenters on the Facebook page, it’s become a challenge to see if they can guess the story from the headline before they click the link.
The last link—and I hope it doesn’t need a spoiler alert, but if so consider yourself spoiled? Alerted? ( I never know what the adverbial form of that should be, but consider yourself whatever you believe it to be)—is obviously a call out to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
This isn’t the first time that the Bard has had a repackaging to appeal to more modern audiences—almost as soon as his plays made the stage at the Globe, they were being altered to suit the needs and interests of more modern audiences.
However, whereas Litbaits presents the novels in their original form once the reader clicks on the title, other contemporary versions retell the story in a drastically different way.
For example, OMG Shakespeare, who reimagined Romeo and Juliet into YOLO Juliet, which retells the famous play through a series of fictional texts, tweets, and check-ins.
Exposure your mind
While some may express concern with this tongue in cheek approach to literary awareness, anything that drives individuals to find their interest piqued by quality reading material is a good thing.
[clickToTweet tweet=”exposure to thoughts, experiences and perspectives beyond normal is a beneficial thing.” quote=”Being exposed to thoughts beyond what we are predisposed to think and being shaped by experiences and perspectives beyond what we can know through our daily lives is a beneficial thing.”]
It allows us to broaden our perspectives and become more than the sum of our previous parts.