World Book Night, launched in London’s Trafalgar Square last Saturday, brainchild of Cannongate’s Jamie Byng, in alliance with the BBC, and the wonderful idea to give away one Million free books to readers has certainly created a buzz, and hopefully will do so in future. For the culture of reading it is tremendous, despite the carping about affecting the perceived price and value of books, for the culture of authors though it seemed dominated by the heavy weights, from Yan Martel to Philip Pulman. It would have been nice to see more independents taking a role, more indy voices, and a bigger voice for those who think that publishing is in crisis, in part because some big publishers have been so ruthless in following lead titles and lead authors.Today’s publishing challenge though is as much about changing technologies and the disappearance of traditional ‘gate-keepers’ in the best sense. It is the eternal paradox of the publishing industry, that financial need and desire to forge forward with success stories, but also to try to promote the unheard, the original, and the off-the-wall literary challengers. Still, when Phoenix Ark began, and called on Independents to join together to create some kind of wider cultural debate, there was hardly a stampede, and this has got people talking, and reading too, always a good thing.
To find out more about World Book Night and perhaps prepare for next year, just click