I’ve just come back from the Federation of Children’s Book Groups annual weekend and have been inspired by the many brilliant speakers and by meeting so many interesting children’s book enthusiasts. In some ways the most enjoyable part of the weekend is just chatting round the dinner table and it was during one of these chats that I had an absolute brainwave.
David Fickling was talking about Book People and Non Book People (to paraphrase) and the divide therein. It made me think that maybe we ‘Book People’ need to be a bit more evangelical about our passion for books. This brought Jamie Oliver to mind and his ‘Pass It On’ programme where he taught people recipes and asked them to (yes, you’ve guessed it) pass it on! The people they pass it on to then pass it on to someone else (keep up) and it eventually many many people know that recipe.
Here is my brainwave. I’m calling it BOOK BOUNCE. If you read a novel that you really, really like then I think you should try and bounce this book in the direction of THREE other people who you know. Now I don’t mean you to GIVE them the book and I don’t mean that you should just say, Oh read the latest Joe Bloggs, it’s great. I mean something in between these two things.
I think if there’s a book you’ve really liked then you should carry that book with you for a week or so after reading it and SHOW it to three other people (workmates, family, friends, neighbours etc). A paperback book is a work of art. Not just in its content but it is a beautiful object. Let the person hold it, look at it, turn it over. While they’re doing this you should be able to sum it up in a couple of lines. This is really good, it’s about XYZ. If they ask to borrow it you have to say you can’t because you’re still showing it to people. If you’ve done a good enough job they might go and buy it themselves (or borrow it from the library). They’ll certainly remember it and you may have gained another reader for that book, given the person a lot of pleasure and given the book a longer life.
There are thousands of new books published every year and a very small number are reviewed. Many books that come out just do not survive very long on the shelves of bookstores.
Personal recommendations can change that. I try and do it all the time but it occurs to me that if all the book loving public had a go at BOOK BOUNCE it might increase the general readership.
Sermon over (apologies to David Fickling for ripping off bits of his talk).