Bookstore uses clickbait headlines to trick people into reading classic novels
DALLAS — Can literature compete with listicles? If the Dallas bookstore The Wild Detectives is to be believed, the answer is a shocking, click-to-find-out-more yes.
Everyone has been a victim of the scandalous “Click here to see 10 celebs that have aged HORRIBLY.” In the social media age, we call it clickbait.
In a social media campaign starting on National Read a Book Day, The Wild Detectives commandeered the term to create their own: litbait.
The store designed their own articles with tempting titles referencing literary classics. They sounded like sensational clickbait articles. But instead of trapping readers into a slow read clicking through an article that doesn’t live up to the hype, the link opened to the full text of a classic novel.
“He befriended a bear when he was a kid and fate reunites them years later” sounds like something that would pop up on Facebook, but click the link and the reader gets “The Jungle Book.”
“You’ll never guess what happened to this Kansas teen after a tornado destroys her home” is actually the full text of “The Wizard of Oz.”
The bookstore plays with readers’ tendency to give more time to internet traps than works of literature. “You fell for the bait, now fall for the book,” the bookstore said in a video they posted online.
From this campaign, The Wild Detectives say they have seen a 14,000% boost in site traffic (did a double take? Me too) and 150% more post engagement on Facebook.
But how did readers feel after those clicks? “They felt tricked of course,” Andres de la Casa Huertas, a representative of the bookstore, told CNN. “But it was a good outcome.”
Which may mean that if literature wants to stay in the spotlight, it can’t be afraid to play the clickbait game.