Wearable books


Lately I’ve seen a lot of technological developments trying to move into the hands-free “wearable” sphere, like Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens. While I’m not really a fan of these developments (that’s a post for another time), I can at least see how they might be a logical progression of the devices and services we already use. A development I didn’t see coming, however, is wearable books.

Litographs is a company that creates T-shirts and tote bags printed with the full text of over 100 classic novels, plays, and poems, from Bronte and Fitzgerald to Poe and Shakespeare. If that wasn’t enough, the company takes wearing books to the next level; you won’t see a giant, boring block of text on one of their shirts – you’ll see a picture.


It’s basically literary pointillism, where tiny letters are used instead of dots to form a picture. And those letters just happen to be the entire text of a classic novel or play.

hamlet text

Then, Litographs started another project to “celebrate the importance of books in our lives,” launching a Kickstarter campaign to create yet another new way to look at (and wear) classic literature: the world’s longest tattoo chain.

To create the chain, the entirety of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was divided into 2,500 parts. Each of these parts – some full sentences, some snippets – became (temporary) tattoos to be distributed to people around the world.

drink me

The response to the Kickstarter was so impressive – Litographs raised nearly $60k, far surpassing their $7500 goal – the chain was expanded to include the continuation of Alice’s adventures in Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. Now the chain has 5,258 tattoos.

who are you

Right now there are about 1,400 Through the Looking Glass tattoos still up for grabs. $5 will get you two tattoos and the opportunity to be part of the world’s longest tattoo chain. (Yes, I’ve already put in for mine.) Two bonuses with this deal: first, the project is being managed by Tilt, which means you’ll only be charge for your tattoos if the project reaches completion (ie, all the tattoos are claimed, completing the chain). The other bonus is Litograph’s partnership with the International Book Bank, which sends a book to a community in need for every five tattoos purchased (as well as one for every poster, T-shirt, and tote bag).

Litograph products aren’t going to replace books of course. The T-shirts – while well-made and pretty cool looking, in my opinion – would be too impractical to actually do any extended amount of reading.

Still, I like the interconnected nature of the tattoo project. People submit pictures of themselves with their tattoo on the Litographs site, so you can page through and read the entire book tattooed on different bodies all over the world. It’s fascinating to see the different places people come from and the different ways they highlight the tattoos on their bodies. (Of course, it also helps that Through the Looking Glass happens to be my favorite book.) Again, I don’t think literary tattoo chains are going to become the next big thing. But then again, that just makes them all the more interesting, doesn’t it?


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