Storytime is Coming to Public Restrooms

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“Help literature reclaim its rightful place,” says the narrator of a video introducing viewers to Looterature, “the first-ever public restrooms that turn toilet-goers into literature users.” The video by Geometry Singapore describes public restrooms that take bathroom books to a whole new level.

Users of Looterature stalls enter portable toilets where motion activated speakers read an audiobook to the “literally captive audience,” bringing books into bathrooms. No reader can deny that books and toilets have an indelible, longstanding love affair. We opine about what makes a perfect bathroom book, we turn loos into libraries—heck, 18th century toilets were even designed to look like books.

So, who, you ask, is the evil mastermind that realized amateur concertgoers guilty of breaking the seal could be held hostage for story time? Looterature comes to us courtesy of creative commerce agency Geometry Singapore (also the minds behind KFC’s fried chicken bath bomb) and Storytel, an audiobooks service available to 22 countries including Singapore, where the stalls were introduced at experimental festival Garden Beats earlier this year.

“By hijacking a usual restroom, we were able to create an entirely new and unexpected experience in which restroom is turned into a personal reading room, while allowing Storytel to reach out to new consumers,” said Jorge Thauby of Geometry Singapore.

After Looterature users handle their business, they’re invited to scan a code to take the story with them, presumably to their own bathrooms, with a 30-day free trial.

Geometry cites a recent study by the phone reseller Bank My Cell, which found that 90% of millennials will not go to the bathroom without their phones—Gen Z came in a little higher at 96%. The data shows that toilet time is taken up by social media, texting, listening to music, watching videos, and the list goes on. (Can we talk about one in nine men getting on dating apps during toilet time? Not bookish enough? Okay, moving on.) Reading books does not appear on the list of things people do with their phones while on the toilet.

For most of us, gone are the days of the bathroom basket or cubby with magazines, trivia books, and crossword puzzles. And less of us sneak in extra reading time by bringing our book-in-progress on a visit to the think tank. Instead, we bring our phones and, with them, a world of options.

But here’s something to ponder: the study also found that phones are ten times dirtier than toilet seats, which…Sorry, I had to go douse my phone in Lysol. The genius of Looterature is that not only do you gain back that reading time—assuming you were reading books in the bathroom in the first place—but you also don’t have to touch anything to get your entertainment. The only thing you’ll be holding is that quad-building squat over the public toilet seat.

You’ll also be entertained in style. The video shows stall exteriors inspired by the books being read within, including classics such as Moby Dick, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Dracula, to name a few. This might also accidentally provide opportunities to speculate about our peers as we stand in line. Are fellow restroom-goers judging the toilets by their covers? Do they actually have an interest in reading Moby Dick, because why? Did they choose Dracula because they have public restroom performance anxiety and hope the book will literally scare the piss out of them?

In the time of COVID-19, who knows when we’ll see or hear of Looterature stalls in use at concerts and other large gatherings, but now we’ve got one more thing to look forward to if they stick around.