Welcome to BATS
Booksellers Against Trick Spines, or BATS for short, was founded in 2018 by Allison Von Der Lande and Ty Till as a support group for fellow booksellers frustrated and distressed at the amount of time wasted searching for books when the spines don't match the cover art. This design flaw, known among booksellers as "trick spine," is unfortunately common.
"Not only does it slow us down and cause undue delay for our customers, but it's also frankly demoralizing," says BATS co-founder Von Der Lande. "No one likes to look foolish in front of a customer when we're fumbling around looking for a book we know is there, but aren't able to find because the cover art we're searching for has no resemblance to the spine of the book that's actually visible. It poses a real threat to booksellers' sanity, which is often holding on only by a thread to begin with."
By 2019, it became apparent that while the efforts of BATS as a support group and mental health resource were desperately needed, they were treating the symptom rather than the cause. That was the beginning of the BATS political action committee and our efforts to lobby for legislation and industry regulation to prevent trick spines in the future.
Current BATS Projects
Study of trick spines in the role of "face blindness"
Many booksellers report a distinct inability to notice books on a shelf when they are displayed front cover forward (or "faced"). BATS wants to examine what role, if any, trick spines may have in perpetuating this phenomenon.
Annual Review of Trick Spines
Currently, a survey of all titles released in physical form in the US in 2020 is underway to determine how common trick spine designs have become.
Study of trick spines for booksellers with color blindness
While booksellers with full color perception struggle with trick spines, those with color blindness have a different take on the situation. BATS hopes to gain a better understanding of how this group of booksellers perceives spine versus face cover design and make sure that trick spine corrections are made with their views in mind.
Get involved and show your support for booksellers on the frontlines of the fight against trick spines.
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