Thursday, 5 May 2011

Book sales - or not...

I'm posting early this week as life is hectic when a new book comes out so I thought I'd fit this in now when I have a moment (watching Question Time).
Back in February we read much hype - and some criticism - about World Book Night. I was one of the minority of curmudgeons who failed to understand the benefit to the book industry of giving away a million free books.
“Do they think recipients will respond by putting their hands in their pockets? Of course they won’t! If they aren't already book buyers, those given free books will simply wait for the next free book. It won’t be far behind. Why buy something you can get for free? As for those who already buy books - well, that will be one less sale to them. A double whammy.
World Book Night devalues the concept of books as something authors, editors, publishers, designers, proofreaders, have spent months, in some cases years, planning, researching, writing, revising, discussing and editing. Why wasn’t that time and effort devoted to promoting book sales?

Those in favour of the initiative were optimistic that this event would improve book sales by increasing interest in books.
So how successful did this venture finally prove in the madness of the contemporary book world?
According to the Office of National Statistics overall retail sales in March 2011 rose by 1.3% compared to March 2010 - yet Bookscan figures showed that in March 2011 UK bookshops takings were nearly £9 million down on takings for March 2010 and volume of sales in bookshops fell by over 12%.
I really wish I'd been proved wrong in this instance - and that another World Book Night hadn't been promised for next year.
Posted by Leigh Russell

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