Friday, 15 February 2013

Circulating Library (2)

Around 35 CBe books were posted off today, many to people who won’t be expecting them. (But people like getting good things in the post, don’t they?) Each has, on the endsheet, a brief note suggesting that the reader, after reading (if they choose to), pass or send the book on to another reader; and a form on which they can fill in the name of who they’re sending it to and when. Each comes in a (detachable) plastic cover. (I too don’t like these things; they’re like keeping your new sofa in its protective wrapping, or insisting your guests put down their cups/glasses on coasters with photographs of the Eiffel Tower or folkloric costumes; but it was suggested that dressing the book up like an old-fashioned library book – remember libraries? – might help to get the idea across, and I’m going along with that.) The catalogue of new 2013 titles and titles in print is enclosed with each book.

And then? Some of the books will stay stranded on a shelf or a bedside table. Some will move on, to readers who have not previously known of either them or CBe. Occasionally, those readers may be be interested enough to order a copy of the book for themselves, to keep, or one of the other CBe titles. That, of course, is the business reason for this. The whole venture is also a form of advertising, of making the books known to new potential buyers through the medium of readers who already occasionally buy, and compared to the cost of traditional advertising (for a quarter page in a single issue of the TLS, £600 + VAT) it may even be cost-efficient. We’ll see. The financial investment seems now, as the books go off, almost irrelevant. Being in a position to send these books out into the world, without having any idea of where they’ll get to, is itself a privilege, is more than worth the candle.

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