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Good news about book promotions which really work

19 June 2006

There are some innovative ideas around about how to promote books and reading.

The UK World Book Day's Quick Reads really do seem to have encouraged non-readers to try reading a book. Interestingly, the bestseller was not from one of the bestselling fiction novelists but Richard Branson's Screw it, Let's do it: Lessons in Life, which shows the power of celebrity self-help. The promotion was estimated to have got space equivalent to a £3.25 million ($5.98 million) advertising campaign. It's also very encouraging that 87% of children in the UK in the seven to 16-year-old age group were aware of World Book Day.

Book festivals have become big business in the UK, with Hay consistently hitting the headlines, Cheltenham aiming to build on last year's 70,000 visitors, and Edinburgh, the world's largest book festival, attracting a staggering 220,000 visitors last year. Readers glory in the informal atmosphere and the chance to catch their favourite authors.

As well as this there's the fabulous Richard and Judy Show, which has introduced all sorts of books to a wider audience in the UK.

In the States the National Endowment for the Arts has supported taking the Big Read, modelled on city reads, to ten Midwestern cities. What's more, Oprah Winfrey has just weaved her magic again, devoting two shows to Elie Wiesel' s Holocaust memoir. This has enabled this important book to shoot up to number three in the bestseller lists.

And on the Internet the latest success story is, which offers opening chapters to help you choose what to read next.

So, who says reading is dead? Surely all this is cause for great optimism about the future of the book. In this age of TV celebrity and mass communication through the Internet, authors are still heroes to a great many people. Although literacy rates continue to be a matter for concern, the spread of reading groups has shown the astonishing grass-roots interest in reading. People simply love books, which is something for which writers can be truly grateful.