So, it appears that World Book Night is almost upon us. As an author, it is great to see an event that encourages people to read more books.
Nicola Morgan’s excellent blog, ‘Help I Need A Publisher‘ raises an important point – that giving away books for free has its drawbacks. For more information visit her post – Our World Book Night – where she suggests the brilliant idea that people should go to their local independent bookstore, purchase a book (thus benefiting the retailer, the publisher and the author – in other words – the entire book industry) and then give the book to a friend as a gift, in the spirit of World Book Night. (The 25 authors won’t be receiving royalties for the copies of their books being given away free, although they are benefiting from a general uplift in the sales of those books, brought about by the extra publicity they are receiving.)
The Leader column in this week’s The Bookseller magazine (04 03 2011) says, “At the most basic level we can already see an uplift, albeit small, in sales of the 25 chosen titles [that are being given away free by World Book Night ‘givers’]. On average they sold 13% more in February than they sold in January and 16% more this February than last. This goes some small way to allay fears expressed, principally by independent booksellers, that giving away free copies of books would damage sales.”
Unfortunately, The Bookseller doesn’t clarify whether that increase in sales for the 25 chosen titles were made through independent booksellers, or via the big boys (Waterstones, Amazon, etc).
World Book Night isn’t perfect, but it’s the first time that anything like this has been attempted. In my opinion, World Book Night has caught the media’s imagination far better than World Book Day. It’s a good foundation from which to build something that could benefit the entire book industry. Let’s hope World Book Night becomes an annual event, that everyone within the book industry benefits from.