Saturday, 5 March 2011

World Book Night 2011 - It's all gone a bit wobbly

It’s World Book Night tonight, where I’ll be one of the 20,000 who have volunteered to give away 48 copies of one of their favourite books from the WBN list. All very benevolent and worthy so far right? Well, my jury is out about the ethos behind WBN. I’ll forgive them the shambolic nature of the contact they have had with both the givers and distributers at the book collection points, WBN is in its first year and these things will happen. But I’m not convinced it will just be a self congratulation-fest of nice middle class people giving books to other nice middle class people. The original impetus behind the event is to encourage Adult reading – to reactivate literacy amongst those who have not read since school. WBN seem to encourage the opposite – their website lists hundreds of events taking place which givers can use as a book distribution outlet – but nearly all are in libraries and book shops, bypassing any opportunity to reach out to people who don’t visit these places. I will be giving The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie out in the West End tonight, I will try to give it out randomly, since you can’t tell who reads books and who doesn’t (you would be surprised both ways) and I’ll report back here tomorrow.

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