Accidental Success

Well last night (Monday 23rd April) was World Book Night and Shakespeare’s birthday. So we had some big celebrations planned.

If you don’t know what World Book Night is it’s essentially a celebration of reading. If I’m getting my figures right 40,000 people around the country were given 24 copies of a book they had specifically chosen from a list of 25 (mine was Bill Bryson’s ‘Notes from a Small Island’) to hand out to whomever they choose. So whether it’s someone they think doesn’t read much, so the book could help get them into reading. Or maybe it’s someone who has never read the genre that their book is in. Giving these books out free could help in a number of ways. World Book night is in its second year now, and it’s growing with each year.

Basically my task is then to organise some kind of event, a platform for the ‘Givers’ to distribute their books. Last year I organised an in store event, which went well but then there’s still the issue of how do you entice non-readers into a book shop? So this year we decided to hit the streets!

It was going to be great! We would all meet up in the shop about 5pm have tea and coffee, get to know each other, maybe swap books if somebody had a title you’d like to read, then at 6pm we’d head out on our walk. We had a designated route planned out for the ‘Town Walk’ where we’d be passing some old buildings and sites of historic interest so I invited local author Carol Twinch along to maybe point out and tell us a bit about such things, and as we merrily skipped along the streets we’d be distributing our books to the people we met. It was a very Disneyesque image I had conjured up, ideal for a beautiful spring evening.  The only thing was I hadn’t counted on the general mistrustfulness of the public whenever you mention the word FREE, and . . the British weather.

Oh yes, rain was well and truly my downfall on the evening as not many people are overly keen on walking round the streets of Ipswich on a rather wet Monday evening. So as six o’clock slowly came around I had to admit defeat for, alas, instead of the hoards of Givers descending upon the unsuspecting pedestrians of Ipswich, which I had envisioned, instead we had 3 Givers, 2 ‘assistants’, and an author. This however did not deter us from our mission, as three of us had dressed up for the occasion (two fairies and an Ass to be precise) we were going to see it through till the end.

So last night six very odd-looking, overly cheerful, and slightly damp people took to the pubs, cafes and shops of Ipswich distributing our wares to whomever we came across. Aside from a very high number of suspicious looks and rejections of a free book we all really had a good time and distributed our books quite widely and rather quickly.

                As we sat in a pub afterwards, having a well-earned drink, I looked around at our merry little band and realised that this was perfect. If there had been a lot of us it wouldn’t have worked, we would have been too intimidating and we wouldn’t have had the great interaction we had with a few members of the public. Also there would have been too many books we wouldn’t have been able to distribute them all, as things stood we were able to distribute all of our books and have a good time in the process.  So it turns out that completely by accident we ended up having the perfect end result.

Although I think I may pass the ‘Events’ cap to somebody else next year.