Monday, 7 March 2011

World Book Night

Arguments are raging about the value of World Book Night, though I get the impression the doubters are using WBN as a lightning conductor to focus their rage about other things making the life of a bookseller pretty tough right now. WBN was all over the press and radio, and 19,999 people gave away a million books selected from 25 great titles. Yes, there were glitches - the WBN website was late and not the best, and on Friday I got an email saying my books had been delivered to somewhere miles from where I live and work, and even further from the bookshop I had nominated as my delivery point. Except they haven't been delivered anywhere as yet. But anyone trying to deliver 20,000 parcels with a million objects is bound to have teething problems.
I joined forces with another "giver" who had received her books and we gave our titles - The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - at a special showing of the film of the same name. Except they were furtively handed over by a fairly unconvincing looking spy wrapped in a brown paper bag marked "World Book Night 2011. Classified papers. Authorised readers only. TOP SECRET". We also gave away a mixed box of the 25 titles and toasted World Book Night with some sparkly stuff. In what way could this be bad for bookselling?
The doubters are meantime arguing whether giving away, say, tens of thousands of copies of Toast will lead to better sales of the book in the long run. No, WBN was not about whether Toast shares will go up 3% or down 3% but whether you can get people excited about books. It worked.

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