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#undatableinlit: Publishers learn how to use the Internet

Would you go for this man of few words?

Now that an increase in book sales has officially been reported (5.6% increase in revenue and 4.1% increase in book sales), we can all stop perpetuating the doomsday message that print is dead. No other phrase is guaranteed to irk me (and my fellow fiction grad students) more. Part of the reason those numbers are on the rise is because the publishing industry has finally become web savvy, or at least savvier, by reaching out to readers through a variety of decidedly un-bookish social media outlets like Twitter. Avid Tweeters are a choosy and demanding bunch, though – there are thousands of 140-character blips to read. Publishers have upped their game accordingly, supplying their followers with more than just book announcements and reading event listings.

Take Random House, which has worked towards creating an all-inclusive literary conversation with lit-related topics like their recent spin on the popular #undatable hashtag: Undatable in Lit. First, undatable isn’t even a word; It’s an Internet creation. So kudos, I guess, to Random House for swallowing their pride in the name of that all too worthy cause of supporting books. Undatable in Lit asked Twitter followers to chime in with romantically hopeless literary characters, written in the style of a personal ads. It was so successful that not only did it get a ton of Twitter feedback, but lots of blogs wrote about it as well – including this one.

Of course, the larger point is that now that publishing houses have embraced the web instead of treating it like an enemy, now that they’ve realized that it’s not either the page or the screen, that maybe this town is big enough for the two of them, companies like Random House have actually watched their sales grow. So much, in fact, that it would seem that print is very much alive.

And now, my five favorite Undatable in Lit tweets, plus one of my own:

-More interested in whale and revenge than women (or men).

-Spends all day calling you a “goddamn phony” and crying about his sister.

-Refuses to grow up and lives among fairies.

-He thinks he’s a giant bug.

-He keeps an aging portrait of himself in the attic so he will look young forever.

-Strong, silent type. Hobbies include coin tossing and repurposing weaponry.