Jacobson joins World Book Night panel as indies raise concern

Jacobson joins World Book Night panel as indies raise concern

<p>Random House Group chair and c.e.o. Dame Gail Rebuck and Booker winner Howard Jacobson have become patrons for World Book Night (WBN), with Canongate managing director Jamie Byng, who is the driving force behind WBN, saying he has received &quot;incredible excitement and support&quot; for the initiative. But some independent booksellers have raised concern over a scheme that will see a million books given away by 20,000 people--albeit funded by publishers.</p><p>Byng said he was pleased to have Rebuck as a patron as the committee was yet to feature any other publishers. He added Jacobson &quot;fully endorsed the idea and he loves it&quot; and said Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries had also &quot;fully embraced&quot; the initiative.</p><p>But independent bookseller Stephen Poulter of Books @ Hoddesdon has voiced his concern about the initiative in a letter to the Booksellers Association. In the letter he questioned the logic of giving books away for free. &quot;We are struggling to survive the worst economic downturn in 70 years along with hundreds of other independent booksellers across the UK in the face of the supermarkets and Amazon increasing their market share by selling books at massive discounts to consumers which we can&rsquo;t even get from our wholesalers. So could you just explain how giving away 20,000 books for free is going to help our business?&quot; </p><p>Hereward Corbett, of the Yellow Lighted Bookshop in Tetbury, said the initiative was &quot;completely nuts&quot;. He added: &quot;I think its mad, it&#39;s just plagiarising book sales. I think its barking.&quot; </p><p>But Byng responded: &quot;I think it will do something extremely beneficial to the profile of books. It will remind people of the place of books in our society... there is going to be a million conversations about books, which are going to be incredible for books. None of us know what the impact is going to be, but everything in my experience and instincts say its going to do something really amazing for books.&quot;</p><p>Andy Rossiter, owner of Rossiter Books in Herefordshire, said: &quot;Anything that gets people interested in books is good. ... The important thing is that people are reading.&quot;</p>