Skip to Content

Quick Reads expand

1 March 2010

Next week's World Book Day on 4 March will celebrate five years of Quick Reads with a crop of new books by writers including Andy McNab, Cathy Kelly, Peter James and Alison Weir. The books are ideal for those who have lost the reading habit or who have never developed it. Each year a number of bestselling writers and celebrities are commissioned to write a short book which is just as exciting and readable as their usual work but shorter and easier to get into.

In the first four years 1.25 million Quick Reads have been distributed, introducing hundreds of thousands of new readers to books and encouraging a large number of non-readers to give books a go.

Quick Reads recently surveyed over 30,000 of their readers and found that 100% said Quick Reads had made a positive impact on their lives. 88% were more confident and 41% felt their job prospects had improved since reading a Quick Read. Significantly, in terms of encouraging book reading, 82% said they were more likely to read another book after reading a Quick Read.

Why do these short reads have such a profound effect on people who cannot read or cannot read well enough to tackle a book? It must be because these readers become engaged in the story and want to read on to find out what happens. But the reason they're able to do so is that the books are carefully designed and written with these readers in mind, so they are written for an adult audience but are especially accessible, short on long-winded description and difficult vocabulary and long on providing compelling stories.

One of the heartening things about reading some of the success stories is the wonderful way in which some of these adult readers, who have found the written word (and much else) denied to them, feel a sense of empowerment. It's a great help with basic confidence but it also opens up an immense and life-enhancing pleasure to them. Just imagine not being able to read a book - it's really unthinkable for anyone for whom books are central to their lives.

In another exciting initiative, from World Book Day next Thursday, the brand new Quick Read titles will be available as apps on the Apple iPod and iPhone and as downloads direct to computers and e-readers. To kick-off the digital campaign, one of the previous titles - The Thief by Ruth Rendell - will be available as a free download here for the week of launch.

The apps, produced by award-winning digital publisher Enhanced Editions, allow users to choose their font and text size. They also use the device accelerometer (which detects when the device is being tilted) to scroll the page, offer a bedtime-friendly night reading mode and encourage users to send excerpts to friends via email. All of the Enhanced Editions apps come with a short sample of the other nine titles, plus a live feed of the latest news about the authors and partners involved in Quick Reads.

The digitisation of Quick Reads will make a great difference to adult learners, particularly those with dyslexia or impaired sight, who may find it difficult to access print of any kind. With Quick Reads available on computers, mobile phones and e-readers, learners can manipulate text on a screen to suit their convenience, for instance to make it larger, as well as use a screen reader.

Quick Reads are already doing a great deal to help non-readers and slow readers to get into books and to start to enjoy them. The new crop of titles joins the list of excellent existing titles which are still available. It's heartening to see this excellent programme continuing and developing.

Quick Reads

World Book Day