Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day

Today, the publishing world celebrates World Book Day. 

These are quotes from the World Book Day website.

"World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the 
world …"

"Thanks to the generosity of National Book Tokens Ltd, publishers and booksellers, we can send millions of book vouchers to children and young people (more than 14 million, in fact: that’s one for nearly every child aged under eighteen in the country)."

The organisers of the events on this Day in UK have emphasized celebrating and supporting reading amongst school children. The contrast between this and how my other publisher, Cambridge University Press (CUP), is celebrating amuses me.

CUP is giving 10% off certain academic and professional books for one week to mark World Book Day. I am sure the titles are all exciting to the professionals who work in their fields, but I doubt they are of much interest to school children.

One discounted book is the British Medical Association 2011 award winner, Core Topics in Airway Management. Others are Plant Microevolution and Conservation in Human-influenced Ecosystems and Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older.

Looking at the list from the point of view of a school-based reader, I thought perhaps Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution might stir some interest. Also the three expensive but beautiful books on wildlife and climate change. The ones that my own contemporary 'young adult readers' might have considered putting their World Book Day vouchers towards (had there been such a thing in my schooldays), seem to me to be Sex Before the Sexual Revolution, (Volcanic) Eruptions that Shook the World and perhaps, out of curiosity, Marijuana and Madness. (But the price of this last is usually £55, so our £1 book tokens would not have helped much.) The Letters of Ernest Hemingway and Government versus Markets would probably not have meant much to us, however racey or topical.

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