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Nellie

Who gives away a million books?

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I was just watching James Byng enthusing about this on The Culture Show. It sounds like a fantastic idea but I'm too much of an introvert to be able to go and sell something to a stranger once, let alone 50 times! They seem to have selected 25 interesting novels though.

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I've also just seen the item on the Culture Show about this. The idea is brave and slightly bonkers, a little like Byng's Canongate imprint who impressively only have one book on the list of potential giveaways ("Life of Pi").

 

However, Gompertz' blog post does indicate some reservations, not least from booksellers, who are already struggling to sell these titles when being squeezed by supermarkets, online booksellers and, increasingly, ebook downloads.

 

In addtion, there's already a substantial source of free books which local councils are obliged to offer but are being forced to cut back on. They're called libraries, and they have more than 25 titles in them. At least, at the moment they do.

 

It is notable that the committee choosing the books was dominated by publishers and media commentators but contained only one librarian (Bookseller article). An intiative to get people to support their public libraries might have been nobler, but then, as a library school student, perhaps I would say that.

 

Jen, I don't know if it is necessary to do the giveaways in person. I wonder if it would be possible to do it Bookcrossing style i.e. just leave them at bus stops or places like that.

 

I am thinking of applying but my problem is there's nothing on the list I feel sufficiently passionate about to want to thrust it into people's hands or even leave it anonymously on tube trains. The list lacks the American big hitters that I'm partial to when choosing my own reading. Byng indicated on the Culture Show piece one of the objectives when selecting the list was to prioritize living British writers (although no McEwan, Amis junior etc.), which I suppose it explains it and also the exclusion of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, one book I would unhestiatingly urge anyone to read.

 

What would have been really good, but I suppose rather impractical, would be for people to apply to give away a book of their choosing and explain why they wanted to do so rather than restrict it to a list of 25 books, the majority of which are already best sellers.

 

I know that the above perhaps sounds sceptical, but anything that fosters a love of reading is alright by me so ultimately I have to back the initiative.

 

The list of titles, for those considering it is:

 

Kate Atkinson - Case Histories (Black Swan)

Margaret Atwood - The Blind Assassin (Virago)

Alan Bennett - A Life Like Other People’s (Faber/Profile)

John Le Carré - The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Penguin)

Lee Child - Killing Floor (Bantam)

Carol Ann Duffy - The World’s Wife (Picador)

Mark Haddon - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Vintage)

Seamus Heaney - Selected Poems (Faber)

Marian Keyes - Rachel’s Holiday (Poolbeg/Penguin)

Mohsin Hamid - The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Penguin)

Ben Macintyre - Agent Zigzag (Bloomsbury)

Gabriel García Márquez - Love in the Time of Cholera (Penguin)

Yann Martel - Life of Pi (Canongate)

Alexander Masters - Stuart: A Life Backwards (Fourth Estate)

Rohinton Mistry - A Fine Balance (Faber)

David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas (Sceptre)

Toni Morrison - Beloved (Vintage)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Half of a Yellow Sun (Fourth Estate)

David Nicholls - One Day (Hodder)

Philip Pullman - Northern Lights (Scholastic)

Erich Maria Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front (Vintage)

C J Sansom - Dissolution (Pan)

Nigel Slater - Toast (Fourth Estate)

Muriel Spark - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Penguin)

Sarah Waters - Fingersmith (Virago)

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I also saw the piece about it on The Culture Show. Thought it was a fantastic idea until I realised that I wouldn't get to choose the book I would like to give away (This Thing Of Darkness).

I'd be hard pressed to speak to 50 people in one evening, let alone press an unsolicited book on them.

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I'd be hard pressed to speak to 50 people in one evening, let alone press an unsolicited book on them.
I don't know 50 people! And I have been known to give out free books to the people I do know anyway.

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I don't know 50 people! And I have been known to give out free books to the people I do know anyway.
I think you're meant to inspired random strangers. I don't see how a Book Crossing approach of leaving books in bus shelters etc would allow you to enthuse and inspire, unless you left a little note maybe! I think it's quite a tall order to find that many enthusiastic, extrovert book lovers who happen to have a passion for one of the 25 listed titles and happen to want to spend a Saturday night sharing the love. But I think it's a great idea!

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It would be possible to call at 50 houses in my road, and I quite like the idea of half the road all reading the same book.

But which book?

There is one on the list that I gave 5 stars to, but I'm not very good at 'selling' a book, however much it has excited me, and can't see myself being able to make Stuart an attractive proposition

 

I haven't even read half of the selected books myself.

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There is one on the list that I gave 5 stars to, but I'm not very good at 'selling' a book, however much it has excited me, and can't see myself being able to make Stuart an attractive proposition
Well, I read it because of your recommendation if that encourages you to be brave...

 

ETA ...and really enjoyed it, if enjoy is the right word. I wouldn't have gone near it without reading about it on here and I'm glad I did. His story has lingered in my mind.

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For anyone interested in participating in World Book Night, the deadline to sign up as a volunteer is 09:00 GMT on January 4th 2011.

 

I decided today to offer to give away "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time", a book I hold in special affection because of my younger brother's autism.

 

However, there are only going to be a total of 20,000 people giving away the free books, so even though I've volunteered there's no guarantee I will actually be doing so on 5th March.

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For anyone interested in participating in World Book Night, the deadline to sign up as a volunteer is 09:00 GMT on January 4th 2011.

 

I decided today to offer to give away "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time", a book I hold in special affection because of my younger brother's autism.

 

However, there are only going to be a total of 20,000 people giving away the free books, so even though I've volunteered there's no guarantee I will actually be doing so on 5th March.

Thanks for the heads-up on this, Gram. I didn't know they were looking for volunteers to give out the books, and I'd love to be chosen. I asked to be considered for 'Fingersmith'.

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i saw this plugged on bbc last night

 

http://www.worldbooknight.org/

 

the idea is that there are 25 books selected and they are looking for roughly 20,000 givers to give away teese books. each giver will recieve 48 copies to give away

 

it's tempting to sign up to be a giver but i don't personally know 48 people but if i was to sign up, i'd select "love in the time of cholera" by gabriel garcia marquez. anyone who sees my film list for 2010 & 2011 will know why (it should be at the start of the 2009 list but i guess i hadn't included it at the time as it was with the directors commentary on)

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I've been selected to give away 50 copies of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Just got to think about how to do it now!

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I've been selected to give away 50 copies of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Just got to think about how to do it now!
Gram, I'm going to be giving away 48 copies of Fingersmith on the 236 bus to Hackney Wick. Eeeek! :scared: As Mr bp said this morning, "Be careful what you wish for".

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I had a mail today from a woman who had been doing teaching observation in my department in preparation for a PGCE. She has been selected for The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, so she is going to come into school and do a presentation to some kids about Spark, and give them a copy of the book. Another way to pass on a few copies!

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Gram, I'm going to be giving away 48 copies of Fingersmith on the 236 bus to Hackney Wick. Eeeek!
Who gets the other two?? Let us know how you get on, I love this idea.

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I've been selected to give away The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I've arranged with my local cinema to hand them out to their customers.

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I also have been selected to give away The Blind Assassin, many will be through school (some brighter kids and staff), friends who want a copy then the rest through bookcrossing.

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