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World Book Day's ground-breaking Quick Reads

27 February 2006

This Thursday 2 March the ninth annual World Book Day will unveil the usual child-oriented campaign, with £1 ($1.75) tokens and six titles promoted for children. But the headlines are going to be grabbed by the wonderful Quick Reads programme, which is a well co-ordinated campaign to get more people reading.

Quick Reads was spearheaded by Gail Rebuck, CEO of Random House UKPenguin Random House have more than 50 creative and autonomous imprints, publishing the very best books for all audiences, covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, autobiographies and much more. Click for Random House UK Publishers References listing, and is both simple in its essence and ambitious in its scope. The first 12 Quick Reads have been commissioned from well-known authors and will include popular fiction, self-help and sport. The books will be enticing, with just 100 pages of clear, well- spaced type and attractive cover designs. They will target the 12 million people of working age in the UK who have literacy skills below or equal to those expected of a 13-year-old. They are designed to attract a range of non-readers, including those who have never picked up a book and are discovering reading, slow readers who have been put off by the length of many books, and those who feel they have no time to read. The World Book Day organisers hope that the experience will prove so enjoyable that readers will come back for more and will develop the reading habit.

The cover price is £2.99 ($5.22) and the Department for Education and Skills has helped to fund 5 million vouchers offering £1 ($1.75) off (vouchers can be downloaded from their site). The intention is to improve Britain's literacy rates, but there's also a clear commercial interest involved too, which has encouraged booksellers and publishers to support the scheme. Those 12 million people represent a huge untapped book market. If only a proportion of them can be encouraged to become regular readers, the rewards for the book trade, publishers and authors will be enormous.

The first twelve books include novels by Maeve Binchy, Ruth Rendell, Joanna Trollope and Minette Walters. Richard Branson contributes his business tips. Mick Dennis's The Team delivers behind-the-scenes profiles from the football world and will be promoted by the Football Association Premier League. Ten more books, including titles from bestselling writers such as Andy McNab and Val McDermid, will be published in May, and there will be more Quick Reads in 2007 and beyond.

Could this be the way to make a real difference to the number of people who read for pleasure? It certainly looks like a well-thought-out plan, which has every chance of success.

Quick Reads

World Book Day