Making Reading Appear Fashionable

Alison Morris -- June 24th, 2008

While I don’t exactly live on an Anthropologie-friendly budget, I do sometimes browse the sale rack of the retailer known for its off-beat, elegant clothing inspired by vintage wear, and I do thumb through their mail order catalog whenever one arrives. Their May catalog took me by surprise this year because several pages of it had a "Summer Classics" theme in which EVERY photo showed a female model doing what? READING! And one page in each of five reading-themed spreads includes a quote from some famous work of literature (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Awakening, Mrs. Dalloway, Wuthering Heights, Ethan Frome).

I think it’s refreshing to see a clothing retailer showing reading in such a fashionable, sexy light, let alone showing reading at all. (I also thought it couldn’t hurt the reputation of models to be seen doing such a thing…) I wish more print ads, television commercials, music videos, mail order catalogs and the like would show MORE images of people with a book in their hands.

From the standpoint of someone wanting to promote the "coolness" of reading, this could only be a good thing. And for publishers these avenues seem like a potential gold mine for product placement.

I know, I know… Those music video and feature film spots are probably only affordable to companies with advertisting budgets the size of Coca-Cola’s, and devoted only to books with print runs in the millions. But surely some clever marketing guru could finagle a way to sneak in a superb book by a midlist author every now and again?

In any case, this Anthropologie catalog strikes me as a missed opportunity for some publisher, as the book this model is reading in every photo is one called The Color of Green. (I can just make out the words in the photo at the bottom of page 24.) Written by Lenard Kaufman and published in 1956, it’s a crime novel that’s now long out of print. But, hey? If any of you used or rare book sellers out there have noticed a sudden interest in this title, this could just be the reason for that.

4 thoughts on “Making Reading Appear Fashionable

  1. bina

    This reminds me of visting the oh so oh so W hotel in New Orleans two years ago. The lounge-y downstairs room with orgy-inspiring lounge-y bed-lets and couch-lets also sported book filled bookcases. Only problem is the books were covered with muted pastel toned paper with no writing on any of them. The cover of the Anthropologie books remind me of those wrapped W books somewhat. I do agree that it is fantastic to see books as fashionable!

  2. Esse

    They sell selected books in the store. Classic, cookbooks, and the sort of book that ‘fits’ with their look. I wonder if they may have just been promoting those. I really like the ads though.

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