Keyword Stuffing the Classics

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Ashley Holstrom

Staff Writer

Ashley Holstrom helps make books at Sourcebooks. She lives near Chicago with her cat named after Hemingway and her bookshelves organized by color. Newsletter: Crooked Reads. Twitter: @alholstrom.

Keyword stuffing in product names is a handy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool to get an item to sneak up to the top of search results — the more keywords, the better! You’ve probably seen it for a variety of products, from books to sustainable bamboo reusable makeup removing pads. See what I did there?

In July 2022, Lean Media put a spotlight on a Big 5 publisher using this tactic on their product pages on Amazon, and it got us thinking: What would keyword-stuffing the classics look like? It’s a fun exercise in marketing and literary snobbery!

Let me be real about something first, though. I find keyword stuffing super helpful for lesser-known romance books, where tropes often make their way into the subtitles. A Small Town Romantic Comedy. An Enemies-to-Lovers Romance. There’s! Only! One! Bed! I’m cool with these descriptors. I’m even okay with — nay, thankful for — even more descriptive subtitles. “An Enemies-to-Lovers High Fantasy Shifter Romance” tells me everything I need to know about said book and whether or not I want to read more about it.

But there’s a fine line between informative and overdone. It often turns a little silly. An example, from a very adorable notebook and backpack set on Amazon: “Unicorn Notebook for Girls, Unicorn Diary With Lock and Key, Girls Diary Set Include Journal Notebook, Stickers, Unicorn pendant, Unicorn drawstring bag, Perfect for Doodling and Notes (Rainbow Unicorn)” I know what you’re thinking: Is that the title, or the whole-ass description??? It’s the title. The product description uses emojis. It’s fine.

Let’s put our dusty English degrees to good use and keyword stuff the classics.

Book cover of 1984

1984: Man Fights Dystopian World Under Eyes of Big Brother, Doublespeak, Eurasia

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Mississippi River Adventure, Runaway Slave, Tom Sawyer

The Age of Innocence: Love, Romance, Desire, Betrayal — Basically Gossip Girl But in 1920s New York

Animal Farm: Woke Barn Animals Turn to Communism, Fall to Totalitarianism; Prescient Political Allegory

The Art of War: Military Strategy, Chinese Warfare, Self-Help for Political and Business Minds

The Bell Jar:Young Woman Suffers From Mental Illness, Depression, Suicide Attempt in New England

Book cover of Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved: Woman Carries Lifetime of Secrets; Historical Fiction; Meditations on Slavery, Motherhood, Womanhood

Brave New World: Dystopian Future, Sci-Fi, Advances in Science and Technology Go Too Far

The Catcher in the Rye: A Tale of Phonies, Identity, Depression, and Belonging

The Color Purple: Epistolary Story Told Through Letters about African American Sisters in the Rural South

The Count of Monte Cristo: Wrongful Imprisonment, Treasure Hunt

Don Quixote: Chivalry, Windmills, Windmills, Windmills

Book cover of Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula: Original Gothic Horror Vampire Story, Historical Twilight

Frankenstein: Gothic Science Fiction, Mad Scientist, Who Is the Real Monster?

The Great Gatsby: Thought-Provoking New York City Love Story with Partying and a Car Crash

Fahrenheit 451: Far-Off Dystopian Future Full of Book Burning, Book Banning

Hamlet: Heartbreaking Family Drama of Death and Revenge; Long, Depressing Monologues

Book cover of i know why the caged bird sings by maya angelou

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Moving Memoir About Loneliness, Racism, Assault, and Rising Free

To Kill a Mockingbird: Coming-of-Age Tale in the South, Racism, Not Actually Bird Murder

Jane Eyre: Gothic Love Story, Poor Woman in Rich World, Secret Woman in the Attic

The Metamorphosis: Man Becomes Bug Beetle Cockroach; Internal Battle with Humanity

Moby-Dick or, the Whale: White Whale, Sperm Whale, Whaling Adventure, Meditation on American Life; Captain Ahab, Call Me Ishmael

Native Son cover

Native Son: Realistic Fiction about the Black Experience, Social Injustice, Poverty, Racism, Chicago

The Odyssey: Ancient Mythology, Hero’s Journey, Trojan War, Epic Poetry

Pride and Prejudice: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Enemies-to-Lovers Romance, It Is a Truth Universally Acknowledged

The Prophet: Philosophical, Spiritual, Inspirational Poems and Quotes about Love, Loss, Joy, Sorrow, Home, Fashion, Law, War, Pleasure, Beauty, Religion, Death

The Scarlet Letter: Adultery, Puritan America, Public Shaming

Slaughterhouse-Five: Firebombing of Dresden, Antiwar Novels, Science Fiction, So It Goes

Book cover of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises: Lost Generation, Ex-Patriots, Drinking, Paris, Spain, Running with the Bulls

A Tale of Two Cities: French Revolution, Family History; It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Southern Love Story, Historical Fiction, Classic African American Literature

Things Fall Apart: Beautiful Intertwining Fables About Religion and Culture Clashes in Africa

Wuthering Heights: Gothic Romance, Ghost Love Story, Dark Romance

For more making fun of/with the classics, don’t miss the worst covers of classic books.