Arts & Culture News

A Bookstore in Oak Cliff Is Trolling Its Customers to Trick Them Into Reading

If you've visited The Wild Detectives' Twitter this week, you may have noticed something different: shameless click bait. Instead of the usual tweets promoting events at the Oak Cliff bookstore or sharing articles on literacy, their Twitter feed is populated with "shocking facts about garlic" and a story about a British man who died taking a selfie.

We expect that kind of material from sponsored posts on Facebook, not a business that has worked since its opening in the spring of 2014 to become a sort of Dallas salon for intellectual discussion. But users who clicked through to these articles found that the "shocking garlic facts" were actually just a teaser for the book Dracula by Bram Stoker, which was presented in full at the destination site. The British man who died due to vanity? That one took you to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Other books included in the campaign, which began on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to celebrate National Read a Book Day, were The Prince, The Scarlet Letter and Gulliver's Travels, with more to come throughout the week. The books selected are public domain books, meaning the text can be presented in full online, for free.

"So far it’s been good," says Andres De la Casa-Huertas, brand director for The Wild Detectives. "A lot of smiley faces on Facebook. It has been shared."

Advertising company Dieste is responsible for the concept "You fell for the bait, now fall for the book." The company has offices in New York City and on Bryan Street in Dallas, where they work for clients including Miller Lite, Hershey's, AT&T, Goya Foods and now The Wild Detectives.

De la Casa-Huertas says the store has developed a happy working relationship with Dieste, who rolled out their first campaign for The Wild Detectives in March — for free. That project decorated a wall of the store, which is also a bar, with alcoholic twists on famous phrases from literature such as "Shall I compare thee to a summer ale?"

"For [Dieste] we’re kind of like candy, 'cause they can do whatever they want," De la Casa-Huertas says. "They come up with an idea they want to push and we pay for the production."

The stated mission of this week's click bait campaign, which they're calling "litbait," is to entice millennials into reading. But anyone who has visited The Wild Detectives knows that the store is full of young people. They are a huge driver of the store's culture, working to curate events such as poetry readings (Pandora's Box), plays (House Party Theatre) and shows (Dallas Distortion Music).

"We have a broad audience," De la Casa-Huertas says. "It’s a space for everyone. It doesn’t have to be just hyper-readers. ... These things we do, it’s not so much to make people read as it is to make reading culture more appealing. I think there’s a space to make it much more approachable and funny."

The Wild Detectives hopes to create some buzz with these campaigns, but De la Casa-Huertas says there's no clear objective except having fun. "We’re not looking for a concrete goal," he says. "It’s just a good idea that they've come up with."

It's also one of the The Wild Detectives' first forays into advertising. They've largely avoided it since word-of-mouth and social media alone have helped them to sustain very healthy foot traffic. "We don’t like old school advertising," de la Casa-Huertas says. "But these kinds of things are interesting. It creates value."

Click here to see the full campaign, consolidated in one place.
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Caroline Pritchard studied English at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and in 2012 returned to her hometown of Dallas, where she spends her free time seeking out new places to roller skate and play pinball.
Contact: Caroline North

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