May is Get Caught Reading Month, an annual event sponsored by the Association of American Publishers to encourage Americans to pick up a book and read. (Like we need encouragement.) Naturally, the best way to “get caught reading” is to engage in PDR (public displays of reading), which is something we do all the time and recommend highly.
Which brings us to CoverSpy, the Tumblr with a Twitter chaser that tracks the habits of people who read in public: on trains and buses, in restaurants and parks, in salons and Laundromats—wherever you can turn a page.
CoverSpy is the brainchild of Tricia Callahan and Amy Sly, who started the project in 2009. “Conversation about e-readers turned into conversation about seeing, or no longer seeing, what books were being read,” Callahan recalls. “We had the idea to chronicle the books we were seeing around town—before the book covers all became the backs of Kindles. Although, for the record, I don’t really think that will happen.”
With a network of more than a dozen spies operating in New York City (including a member of our Crime HQ crew!) and a recently opened operation in San Francisco, CoverSpy keeps track of who’s reading what, where and when. “A lot of people are still reading print books,” Callahan explains. “A lot of people are reading e-readers. A lot of people read, period. And, CoverSpy has taught me that so many people are just as interested in what others are reading: We have over 15,000 followers between Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and somewhere around 13,000 unique page views a month.”
So please, keep up those PDRs wherever you might be. You never know who’ll catch you reading!