News

World Book Night books defy the critics as sales grow

The majority of the books to be handed out tomorrow (5th March) as part of World Book Night have already received a sales boost in 2011. The figures will be a welcome fillip for the organisers, with founder Jamie Byng facing down criticism from independent bookshop owner Stephen Poulter on last night's Newsnight. The promotion launches tonight with a live event in London's Trafalgar Square, featuring authors such as Nick Cave, Margaret Atwood and Alan Bennett.

According to Nielsen BookScan data, 16 of the 25 books have enjoyed month on month sales boosts in February and 12 of the 25 have stronger sales in February 2011 than February 2010. In total, the 25 books have sold 53,000 copies in the first three weeks of last month, worth £322,000.

World Book Night launched its website yesterday (3rd March), a week after its planned date. The site experienced problems and was down for most of yesterday with users complaining of spam emails from the site being sent out. Aimee Johnston wrote on the site: "Please stop spamming my inbox - over 150 emails in last 10 minutes. Website organisation has not been your forte so far WBN and it's wearing very thin now." However, the site is working normally today.

Byng appeared on Newsnight with Waterstone's founder Tim Waterstone, and Poulter, with the presenter Kirsty Wark announcing that the book trade was "indeed in crisis", and that Waterstone's was "in retreat" from the high street: a view Waterstone said was not accurate and that he "resented".

But Poulter said there was a crisis caused by the "devaluation" of books and criticised the free give-away. He said: "We spend our entire day sharing our passion for books with our customers, but we have to be a business, we have to survive." But Byng said it was "readers" who sold books, and that WBN would be "driven by passion, and that is very infectious". Waterstone said he did not agree with Poulter, adding  he would like to see the promotion return next year, only better: "Jamie is doing a fantastic job getting books out there. The book market is not a finite market, introduce people to reading, and they'll then buy other books."

The Nielsen BookScan data is the first hint that Byng's view that sales will increase as a result of WBN may be validated. The numbers show Muriel Spark has received the biggest recent sales boost, with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie up 63% between February 2011 and January. Next is Alan Bennett's A Life Like Other People's, up 55%, and sales of Mohsin Hamed's Reluctant Fundamentalist up 48% the third biggest sales boost.

Year on year, Nigel Slater's Toast has the biggest sales growth between February 2010 and 2011, up 367%. John Le Carré's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is second with 106% growth and Seamus Heaney's New Selected Poems third in growth terms, up 102%.

Top WBN Books

Feb 2011 vs Jan 2011

1. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark +63%
2. A Life Like Other People's - Alan Bennett +55%
3. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamed +48%
4. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell +43%
5. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood +43%
6. Agent Zigzag - Ben MacIntyre +28%
7. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez +27%
8. Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie +26%
9. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry +26%
10. Rachel's Holiday - Marian Keyes +24%

Feb 2011 v Feb 2010

1. Toast - Nigel Slater +367%
2. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - John le Carré +106%
3. New Selected Poems - Seamus Heaney +102%
4. Agent Zigzag - Ben MacIntyre +92%
5. Beloved - Toni Morrison +77%
6. Stuart: A Life Backwards - Alexander Masters +40%
7. Killing Floor - Lee Child +34%
8. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark +33%
9. The World's Wife - Carol Ann Duffy +29%
10. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry +21%

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Ahhh statistics *rubs trousers* how we love them. Call me a cinic but if only 12 of the 25 saw an increase doesn't that mean 13 saw a drop? Shouldnt the headline be "Sales fall for WBN titles?". Also, do people generally buy more books in Feb than Jan or did sales for the 16 titles that saw an increase month on month see a drop last year month on month?

Just saying

World Book Night is an industry initiative. It is a shame that 'World' means the UK in this case and I'd hope that next year it distributes a million books worldwide.

As for the website they launched late with the wrong technology. I work as a profession Web Developer and the whole thing just looked shoddy and amateurish. There are so many simple things they could have done to keep the egg off their faces. With any luck whoever set up their site will be recruiting new development managers or re-training them.

I meant 'Professional Web Developer', should read twice before posting :)

On what basis are you suggesting that sales have dropped?

The report is clearly just showing the top-ten.

Sales might have grown by a smaller increment or stayed the same. Cynical speculation seems to be trying to damn this event. The real shame is that independent book shops (who should be relishing the limelight afforded them) are painting themselves to be worry-mongers of the book-apocalypses.

I'm keen on WBN, but this morning I had an email telling me that the books I was due to give out had not been delivered to the bookshop in the village where I was due to give them out, but to a library nowhere near where I live or work, or the village in question. As I don't drive that makes things a little awkward, not least as the number given as a contact was a fax number and I don't have a fax.
This does not stop my enthusiasm for the project but possibly a little fine tuning is neccessary...

But it's numbers that matter not percentages.

For example, if Nigel Slater's Toast sold 100 copies last February (and it may well have been more, that's just a suggestion) then to achieve this stunning increase of 367% for February 2011 then it would only need to have sold 467 copies last month. Which doesn't sound quite so good for your story does it? And presumably the tv adaptation of it a couple of months back helped.

On the same basis for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie to be up by 33% it would only need to have sold say 133 copies last month given that same benchmark of 100 copies in Feb 2010.

But that's not quite as good a story as these huge percentages you're quoting is it?

Here! Here! 'Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics'!

To be reporting before WBN that the event is a success is jumping the gun somewhat as the promotion is about more than those being trumpeted in this cod-piece of churnalism.

The only statistic that will matter is how far paperback sales have grown - or shrunk - in March.

As a typical industry professional who is in the habit of doing a bit of research before putting together a promotion, I'm sure the 'nays' could be generous enough to extend the lead-time for growth in paperback sales (actual numbers as well as percentages) to the end of April. Heck, the end of May...

Yes, we'll have to wait and see what this event actually does to book sales. I suspect the true story behind these figures is along the lines of bookshops succeed in getting rid of World Book Night titles before the market is flooded with free copies. However, this probably wasn't in the press release from World Byngo Night.

My point is you don't know, given the statistics given. The top 10 increases are shown here, we know only 12 increased, the rest decreased, they could have decreased by more than the others increased then that's a net loss. As someone else pointed out, when all you're given are percentages it's all pretty pointless anyway.

If you aren't given all the information to judge for yourself then you have to ask yourself why that might be? That's what i'm cynical about, not WBN.

23 of the 25 books selected for World Book Night (WBN) registered a sales uplift last month - whether it be month-on-month growth versus January 2011 or year-on-year growth versus February 2010.

In total, the 25 WBN titles sold a combined 73,000 copies in February. The majority of these books' sales have indeed been down to factors other than WBN, whether it be popularity generally (One Day has been a huge bestseller for well over a year now), TV adaptations (Toast) or TV plugs (Hardeep Singh Kohli recommended A Fine Balance on "My Life in Books" last week and sales rocketed 370%).

However, based on overall (non-WBN) sales uplifts between Jan 11/Feb 11, Feb 10/Feb 11 year/year, and the average sales increases of the 25 WBN titles, then around 15,000-20,000 of their February sales are down to pre-awareness WBN sales — thanks largely to enterprising booksellers' attempts to take advantage of this celebration of literature.

Actually this was not a press release. I think the WBN people are a little busy today. We use the word "hint" deliberately in the piece. We won't know the full picture for a number of weeks. And LDL&S is of course right, there may be an issue of destocking going on here, but equally it may just be that book promotions work.

There are all sorts of things that need sorting out after this year, but getting people to read a book that the givers love has to be a good thing. Stephen Poulter speaks for himself not for most independent booksellers.

Thanks for trying to clear up the source of the reported figures, but I think you are just emphasing my point.

If I understand you correctly, you're trying to normalise the sales of the WBN titles against either the month-on-month or year-on-year sales increase for February (which is it that you're actually reporting?). If you're comparing it with the monthly or yearly trends, then how are you modelling these trends (is it a linear, Gaussian or even a Lorenzian?) Have you taken into account the terrible weather of January and February 2010 or the pre Christmas period 2010 with your data manipulation? Are you taking into account the shorter temporal trends of TV adaptations or celeb endorsements?

While the data you present shows an apparent increase, you are certainly a long way from being able to claim that The Nielsen BookScan data is the first hint that Byng's view that sales will increase as a result of WBN may be validated.

Philip, sorry I must read your comments in full before posting next time. Are you actually suggesting that "book promotions work" prior to their launch? I hope I've never underestimated any of public that come into our shop, but I'm not sure how many are psychic.

As most givers I know are not getting their preferred book, is the 15,000-20,000 increase in February sales down to the 20,000 givers desperating reading the title they were given?

AAARGH! Please stop the negativity and fault finding for once. And please stop doing it in the name of Independent Booksellers (that too to Mr Jeffrey-Poulter). You are doing harm.

Just a thought but couldn't the increased sales of Toast have a liitle bit to do with having been on the television over Xmas? Hmmm?

Sorry, must read through my comments before posting. Second para should read:

If I understand you correctly, you're trying to normalise the sales of the WBN titles against either the month-on-month or year-on-year sales increase for February. If you're comparing it with the monthly or yearly trends, then how are you modelling these trends (is it linear, Gaussian or even a Lorenzian? which model is it that you're actually reporting?) Have you taken into account the terrible weather of January and February 2010 or the pre Christmas period 2010 with your data manipulation? Are you taking into account the shorter temporal trends of TV adaptations or celeb endorsements?

Waterstone's and WHSmith have been running promotions on the 25 titles ahead of World Book Night - in the same way bookshops have been promoting Quick Reads and the £1 World Book Day books ahead of World Book Day yesterday.

The data is based on the average sales increases enjoyed by all 25 titles on a month/month and year/year basis, taking into account the fact that book sales in February 2011 were up 4.1% on January 2011 and down 0.4% on a February 2010 that enjoyed a 5.2% fillip on a particularly poor January 2010 in which booksellers, particularly in Scotland and the North, were affected by the "big freeze". And on the average annual year/year sales declines experienced by backlist titles. And taking into account that One Day had only just hit the shelves in February last year and so was enjoying abnormally high sales. And that Toast has recently been on the telly. And that Hardeep Singh Kohli recently waxed lyrical on A Fine Balance in front of Anne Robinson on BBC Two.

I can't speak to every one of the 73,000 people who bought one of the 25 WBN books in February, all I can do is state that overall sales of the WBN titles are up around 15,000-20,000 copies year-on-year — which includes solid sales increases for the likes of Agent ZigZag (up 115% y/y, to 4,384 copies sold), Killing Floor (up 57%, to 5,108), and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (up 160%, to 2,066). These boosts aren't coincidental - they're down purely to many booksellers' successful attempts to promote the WBN titles in-store in a "these are the 25 everyone's talking about" kinda way.

Ahhh statistics *rubs trousers* how we love them. Call me a cinic but if only 12 of the 25 saw an increase doesn't that mean 13 saw a drop? Shouldnt the headline be "Sales fall for WBN titles?". Also, do people generally buy more books in Feb than Jan or did sales for the 16 titles that saw an increase month on month see a drop last year month on month?

Just saying

On what basis are you suggesting that sales have dropped?

The report is clearly just showing the top-ten.

Sales might have grown by a smaller increment or stayed the same. Cynical speculation seems to be trying to damn this event. The real shame is that independent book shops (who should be relishing the limelight afforded them) are painting themselves to be worry-mongers of the book-apocalypses.

My point is you don't know, given the statistics given. The top 10 increases are shown here, we know only 12 increased, the rest decreased, they could have decreased by more than the others increased then that's a net loss. As someone else pointed out, when all you're given are percentages it's all pretty pointless anyway.

If you aren't given all the information to judge for yourself then you have to ask yourself why that might be? That's what i'm cynical about, not WBN.

World Book Night is an industry initiative. It is a shame that 'World' means the UK in this case and I'd hope that next year it distributes a million books worldwide.

As for the website they launched late with the wrong technology. I work as a profession Web Developer and the whole thing just looked shoddy and amateurish. There are so many simple things they could have done to keep the egg off their faces. With any luck whoever set up their site will be recruiting new development managers or re-training them.

I meant 'Professional Web Developer', should read twice before posting :)

Not just the UK: there was a fairly good response in Ireland (or Dublin at least) last night, including participation by an independent (The Gutter Bookshop) and a chain (Dubray). Waterstone's did not participate in Dublin anyway, as they recently pulled out of there and I don't think Hodges bothered (I think they're a little busy rebranding themselves as the Waterstone's from across the street).

But what would they call it if not 'World': British Isles Book Night? I don't think that would go down very well in Ireland. I presume the 'World' in the title is in order to progress towards a more global event.

I'm keen on WBN, but this morning I had an email telling me that the books I was due to give out had not been delivered to the bookshop in the village where I was due to give them out, but to a library nowhere near where I live or work, or the village in question. As I don't drive that makes things a little awkward, not least as the number given as a contact was a fax number and I don't have a fax.
This does not stop my enthusiasm for the project but possibly a little fine tuning is neccessary...

But it's numbers that matter not percentages.

For example, if Nigel Slater's Toast sold 100 copies last February (and it may well have been more, that's just a suggestion) then to achieve this stunning increase of 367% for February 2011 then it would only need to have sold 467 copies last month. Which doesn't sound quite so good for your story does it? And presumably the tv adaptation of it a couple of months back helped.

On the same basis for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie to be up by 33% it would only need to have sold say 133 copies last month given that same benchmark of 100 copies in Feb 2010.

But that's not quite as good a story as these huge percentages you're quoting is it?

my thoughts exactly, %s mean nothing, it is the raw numbers that count, and the fact is that 48% of the titles had sales increases and 52% had sales decreases. Giving away a million books costs a lot of money... what if those millions of pounds had been used to set up a fund to keep independent bookshops alive and help guide them through the e book revolution?

Don't get me wrong, WBN a good idea, I'm just not convinced the giveaway was the best use of resources and I expect sales boosts such as the ones achieved could have been achieved across a wider range of titles with a little more creative thought and marketing.

And from what I hear the process and web site were a bit of a shambles. Unprofessionally done by an industry that needs to be more professional to survive and flourish.

Here! Here! 'Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics'!

To be reporting before WBN that the event is a success is jumping the gun somewhat as the promotion is about more than those being trumpeted in this cod-piece of churnalism.

The only statistic that will matter is how far paperback sales have grown - or shrunk - in March.

As a typical industry professional who is in the habit of doing a bit of research before putting together a promotion, I'm sure the 'nays' could be generous enough to extend the lead-time for growth in paperback sales (actual numbers as well as percentages) to the end of April. Heck, the end of May...

Yes, we'll have to wait and see what this event actually does to book sales. I suspect the true story behind these figures is along the lines of bookshops succeed in getting rid of World Book Night titles before the market is flooded with free copies. However, this probably wasn't in the press release from World Byngo Night.

23 of the 25 books selected for World Book Night (WBN) registered a sales uplift last month - whether it be month-on-month growth versus January 2011 or year-on-year growth versus February 2010.

In total, the 25 WBN titles sold a combined 73,000 copies in February. The majority of these books' sales have indeed been down to factors other than WBN, whether it be popularity generally (One Day has been a huge bestseller for well over a year now), TV adaptations (Toast) or TV plugs (Hardeep Singh Kohli recommended A Fine Balance on "My Life in Books" last week and sales rocketed 370%).

However, based on overall (non-WBN) sales uplifts between Jan 11/Feb 11, Feb 10/Feb 11 year/year, and the average sales increases of the 25 WBN titles, then around 15,000-20,000 of their February sales are down to pre-awareness WBN sales — thanks largely to enterprising booksellers' attempts to take advantage of this celebration of literature.

So a million books were given away to achieve a sales boost of 15-20,000 copies hmmm.....

Actually this was not a press release. I think the WBN people are a little busy today. We use the word "hint" deliberately in the piece. We won't know the full picture for a number of weeks. And LDL&S is of course right, there may be an issue of destocking going on here, but equally it may just be that book promotions work.

There are all sorts of things that need sorting out after this year, but getting people to read a book that the givers love has to be a good thing. Stephen Poulter speaks for himself not for most independent booksellers.

Thanks for trying to clear up the source of the reported figures, but I think you are just emphasing my point.

If I understand you correctly, you're trying to normalise the sales of the WBN titles against either the month-on-month or year-on-year sales increase for February (which is it that you're actually reporting?). If you're comparing it with the monthly or yearly trends, then how are you modelling these trends (is it a linear, Gaussian or even a Lorenzian?) Have you taken into account the terrible weather of January and February 2010 or the pre Christmas period 2010 with your data manipulation? Are you taking into account the shorter temporal trends of TV adaptations or celeb endorsements?

While the data you present shows an apparent increase, you are certainly a long way from being able to claim that The Nielsen BookScan data is the first hint that Byng's view that sales will increase as a result of WBN may be validated.

Sorry, must read through my comments before posting. Second para should read:

If I understand you correctly, you're trying to normalise the sales of the WBN titles against either the month-on-month or year-on-year sales increase for February. If you're comparing it with the monthly or yearly trends, then how are you modelling these trends (is it linear, Gaussian or even a Lorenzian? which model is it that you're actually reporting?) Have you taken into account the terrible weather of January and February 2010 or the pre Christmas period 2010 with your data manipulation? Are you taking into account the shorter temporal trends of TV adaptations or celeb endorsements?

The data is based on the average sales increases enjoyed by all 25 titles on a month/month and year/year basis, taking into account the fact that book sales in February 2011 were up 4.1% on January 2011 and down 0.4% on a February 2010 that enjoyed a 5.2% fillip on a particularly poor January 2010 in which booksellers, particularly in Scotland and the North, were affected by the "big freeze". And on the average annual year/year sales declines experienced by backlist titles. And taking into account that One Day had only just hit the shelves in February last year and so was enjoying abnormally high sales. And that Toast has recently been on the telly. And that Hardeep Singh Kohli recently waxed lyrical on A Fine Balance in front of Anne Robinson on BBC Two.

I can't speak to every one of the 73,000 people who bought one of the 25 WBN books in February, all I can do is state that overall sales of the WBN titles are up around 15,000-20,000 copies year-on-year — which includes solid sales increases for the likes of Agent ZigZag (up 115% y/y, to 4,384 copies sold), Killing Floor (up 57%, to 5,108), and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (up 160%, to 2,066). These boosts aren't coincidental - they're down purely to many booksellers' successful attempts to promote the WBN titles in-store in a "these are the 25 everyone's talking about" kinda way.

Thanks Philip, it's all becoming a litle bit clearer.

The point I'm making about trends and how they're modelled is very relevant to the winter periods over the last couple of years, as you correctly pointed out. If this year's figures are to be compared to last year, do last year's figures take into account the drop in sales due to the weather at the beginning of 2010. In other words, are the numbers artificially inflated or are they the raw numbers, in which case lower than expected. If the later, then an increase in sales would be expected for solid mid-list books(surely the majority of WBN titles).

The short term trends are also revelvant. As an example Toast was televised around New Year and probably showed significant increased sales. The increase in sales reported here is probably the tail end of this boast and very little to do with WBN. This could have been determined by examining the data for at least Nov through to Feb rather than jumping to the conclusion that WBN has had a positive influence on sales. Other titles will show similar fluctuations.

There is no doubt that WBN has had an influence on the sales data, but there is nothing in these numbers to show that it's the positive influence of WBN rather than just retailers getting shot of soon to be worthless stock.

It does seem odd Mr Lies that you want believe everything else has an effect on sales except a UK-wide mass promotion called World Book Night, which has been promoted in stores (even if you haven't witnessed it yourself), widely reported in the media, and featured on television. The bookseller rightly says there is a suggestion of it having made a difference, and that further evidence will establish it one way or another. But, even in the absence of further reporting, you have simply dismissed any kind of link. It is not just tiresome, it is illogical.

Philip, sorry I must read your comments in full before posting next time. Are you actually suggesting that "book promotions work" prior to their launch? I hope I've never underestimated any of public that come into our shop, but I'm not sure how many are psychic.

Waterstone's and WHSmith have been running promotions on the 25 titles ahead of World Book Night - in the same way bookshops have been promoting Quick Reads and the £1 World Book Day books ahead of World Book Day yesterday.

The Waterstone's and WHSmith that I've visited recently have had nothing or very little on display for WBN (save a couple of flyers). I admit I haven't been to either of them in the last couple of weeks, but this was certainly the case at the beginning of February.

Mr Lies - Waterstone's have had the 25 WBN titles promoted as part of the 3 for 2 offer, grouped together at front of store under the World Book Night banner for the last few weeks. People have been buying them. Yes, some of them may have bought them because it is slightly warmer than last year and they are huge Hardeep fans, but most of them will have bought them because they noticed the promotion and were tempted to buy a book. Those copied would not have been sold if WBN did not exist.

It is not beyond the capacity of any bookseller to take advantage of the incredible profile that WBN has given these books - those that choose not to are missing out. 20,000 booklovers out on the streets promoting our industry, for free, cannot be viewed as a bad thing, surely.

As most givers I know are not getting their preferred book, is the 15,000-20,000 increase in February sales down to the 20,000 givers desperating reading the title they were given?

AAARGH! Please stop the negativity and fault finding for once. And please stop doing it in the name of Independent Booksellers (that too to Mr Jeffrey-Poulter). You are doing harm.

Just a thought but couldn't the increased sales of Toast have a liitle bit to do with having been on the television over Xmas? Hmmm?

Is it just me, or is Lies,Damn (sic) Lies and Statisctics a complete tool?

WBN is a great event with a few teething problems!

Based on the collective negative posts from chain and independent booksellers on this site (over the past couple of years), I'm not surprised that people who love the written word are not 'feeling' the benefit of going into a store and are opting to order online for their cherished book fix.

If even a fraction of the bluster and bile that is added to this site is evident to customers during their interactions with employees working instore then the traditional trade is truly up the creek without a paddle.

Apologies to all of the bookselling stalwarts who offer a great service and advice to their customers. For the 'I could do better than the management' (perhaps you should try to scale the ladder and be part of the decision-making processes, as opposed to perpetually moaning), life is unfair brigade, find another career!

As an independent bookseller I am looking forward to the excitement of World Book Night & am very grateful for all the publicity about books and reading. giving away books is a brilliant idea and doesn't undermine their value at all. What does undermine the value of books is finding them constantly on "special offer" in bigger bookshops, chains, supermarkets and the internet, so that when I quote a price for a special order of the rrp, I am sometimes met with a raised eyebrow. Yesterday I had a phone call to cancel a special order because my local chain had the book on special offer. I was tempted to go in and buy up all the stock before the customer could get there! But please look on the positive side Anything that encourages people to read books has the knock on effect of increasing sales in the long run. Let us celebrate the written word & stop worrying about statistical analysis.

As one of those who Dan mentions 'love the written word' and I'm not a writer, a bookseller or a publisher, just a reader so I can only endorse his sentiments, especially this

"If even a fraction of the bluster and bile that is added to this site is evident to customers during their interactions with employees working instore then the traditional trade is truly up the creek without a paddle."

As a prolific book buyer myself the behaviour of a few very loud voices from the trade throughout this entire initiative have been nothing short of crazy, very short sighted and if I may dare to say so, completely insulting to us readers without whom none of you need bother to get out of bed. We will be out in our droves on WBN plying YOUR product not only in an attempt to get more people in through the doors of YOUR shops and libraries but to share and spread the word about a book we have loved and perhaps, who knows, we might even create some new footfall for you.

The book in the hand has real value to us too, booksellers don't have the monopoly on book-loving, though our 'value' might be slightly at odds with yours, but we have as much right to be involved in the world of books and reading, and yes, people DO value free books, so we are getting off our backsides to try and do something positive which seems to have met with nothing but derision from a few.

All this in a week when we hear more panic, doom and gloom about e books and how the end of the world of the real book is nigh. Please have some respect for those of us who have spent a fortune keeping the Indies afloat, you need us and we are trying to do our bit for you, and if you'd rather we didn't then please just carry on moaning as you have been and we will do all our book buying online in future and leave you to it.

I truly applaud Fran's attitude, in fact I am really heartened by it because some of the vitriol I have read from the booksellers surrounding WBN has been nothing short of vile and personal verging on shameful, and I also applaud the Indies, like my local, who had the foresight and the business acumen to invite the givers into the shop to hand out their books and to create a big celebratory event around all this free publicity.It's a win win and if sharing books and reading is only about sales and money then we are living in very sad times indeed.

Let's hope the techy wrinkles and glitches can be ironed out for next year and that WBN becomes the brilliant celebration of books and reading that it seems surely destined to be.

You're not really taking on board half the comments are you mate? Nobody has any quarrel with 'those who have spent a fortune keeping the Indies afloat', it's people who turned up at bookshops for the first time to pick up their boxful of free stuff, looked at the prices and said 'wow, I'm glad I buy all my books off Amazon' and walked out never to be seen again who have roused a certain amount of ire – and rightly so.

Fran is right. Discounting books always has been and always will be bad for the trade. End of. Period. Good, short term, for those that can discount most, but fundamentally bad for the trade. It is in that context that giving away free books on WBN is a bad thing. It is also bad for the trade that it has been so miserably and poorly executed. But it is also clearly a good thing in terms of the PR, publicity, excitment etc that it is generating. From my point of view (as an independent bookseller who's been in the trade for years), I think that it will probably end up on the positive side. We're used to being fed ill concieved and ill thought through ideas by the trade's leaders (especially those in charge of the chains), and we'll make the best of it. But I wish that Mr Byng and the BA had planned for it to launch next year, and talked (and listened) more to booksellers and librarians on the ground. And I dearly wish that the BA would start to represent the independent sector properly and professionally instead of being the lapdogs of the discounting chains!

Well, typically paperback sales DO increase February vs January.

And as for February 2011 being up on February 2010... anyone remember the snow last year? Or the fact that half term fell in February this year?

There are too many variables for this data to be truly meaningful.

To report a little further on my books being delivered to a library miles from where I live, rather than the bookshop I requested... I got in touch with the library and the books have not been delivered there either.
But gliches aside, what some posters here have lost sight of is the development of a reading culture, of fun activities to do with books, innovative ways of promoting reading and the involvement of 20,000 people (though currently 19,999 until my books turn up)in this project. WBN as I understand it is NOT about whether sales of Toast have gone up or down a few percentage points.
I presume that authors are pleased that so many new reades are reading their books and may be tempted to buy their next one.

Where ln andover do i need to go to get my free book as myself and my 11 yr old daughter are interesred

The Waterstones in Andover will probably be giving out some free books. It's probably best to give them a call before you turn up, to find out what has been arranged. Their number is 01264358927.

I thought this section was for booksellers to exchange opinions on a variety of industry-related topics.Bogstandardreader seems to want to stifle this debate and is upset by any discussions on what many of us feel is a misguided and potentially damaging initiative. We have suggested alternative approaches which we believe would address the needs of readers, retailers and our embattled libraries. These suggestions have been completely ignored so it's not surprising that we get angry when we see an opportunity squandered in this way, especially at a time when the book industry is in crisis.

I'm a ''Bogstandardreader'' that has read through the comments posted so far on this article. I thought this section was for readers to engage in discussion or to voice an opinion. If the average reader cannot give an opinion on an event that is meant to involve themselves deeply, then...??!!?

I really enjoyed World Book Night - my boyfriend and myself have talked about making the week World Book Day falls on in the future into a book trip! I got a free copy of a book, and we spent nearly 2 hours in the last bookshop we went to alone and came away buying another book. I really hope that there are readers like me that have loved the spirit that World Book Night was intended to be celebrated in. Evidence of whether book sales will flourish will be seen soon, so let's all bask in the joy of reading and be positive about this event which is already in the past!!

I am left with 12 boxes of uncollected books! Anyone know where Jamie Byng lives?

has he opted out?

I think alot of staff in stores (no names mentioned, but I mean a big chain of bookshops) have felt that this is a really good initiative and have been behind it all the way.
Those staff who moan moan moan on here about the way their shops are run should, as Dan suggested, do something about it or get out of the damn boat.

Would this be Waterstones staff by any chance - people employed by one of the sponsors of the event? Isn't that like turkeys being held at gunpoint to support Xmas? The best I could get from staff at my local Waterstones was 'No comment'.

Well from afar....in the land of the so called free...the USA....the whole event made news on most of the main news media channels.....so I say top ho....and well don! A positive spin for the world of book publishing despite the chap on the BBC website who stated he thought the whole event was a non starter/a waste of time as the book selection was wrong as he would never read any of them...seems he missed the whole point of the exercise....in my humble opinion the likes of him are the tossers who keep the great unwashed in a corner....where he probably believes they are messy and should stay!

...sorry hit the send button twice.....too much passable red with dinner....again!

Well from afar....in the land of the so called free...the USA....the whole event made news on most of the main news media channels.....so I say top ho....and well done! A positive spin for the world of book publishing despite the chap on the BBC website who stated he thought the whole event was a non starter/a waste of time as the book selection was wrong as he would never read any of them...seems he missed the whole point of the exercise....in my humble opinion the likes of him are the tossers who keep the great unwashed in a corner....where he probably believes they are messy and should stay!

Hi David Livesley - aren't you glad you are out of the game now?

...well Cassie I had been doing my job for far too long and really needed to work for myself...to stop me continuing to piss some folks off! However if I had quit 10 years earlier I would have looked to use my publishing sales skills within the industry, however as it turned out the writing on the wall I saw took FAR longer to come to fruition...but the results were much quicker, dramatic and also sadly the fun went out of flogging them there books. However I have taken my 30 year experience of dealing with people (good and bad....) and used it to good effect, which is satisfying. However I do still miss some of my old chums, but I do not miss sales conferences (completely ineffective use of everyones time in the 21st century...) and spending hours trying to get an order out of Waterstones et al! All in all it appears I took my 'Ronnie the reps case' and quit at the right time....one day pork pie hats might return.... If only events like the 1 million giveaway had happened 15 years ago.....It is an original and simple idea that gets non book readers to actually notice the great selection of reading matter available. Sadly too many folks take for granted books will always be there.

Have just posted this in the story about £1 WBD titles storming charts, but maybe more relevant here. Last week (w/e 26/2), the book market was +7.9% on last year. This week (w/e 05/3), the week of WBN, despite the increases in sales of the much publicised WBN titles, book sales fell by 4.9% against last year. Early in the day, maybe, but it looks as if WBN (and, to be fair, WBD), was good for the 25 titles, but not really so great for the trade overall, saleswise. Maybe time to re-write the headline?

Sales of the Muriel Spark have surely been helped by Faulks featuring it on his 'Faulks on Fiction' series. It definitely made me want to read it before I even realised it was part of the world book night series