James Patterson has launched a campaign in the US to persuade President Barack Obama to draw attention to the importance of reading.
The campaign, which has the hashtag #SaveOurBooks on Twitter, asks people to sign a petition, write to their politicians, spread to word on social media and find out what more Patterson is doing to keep people reading, borrowing and buying books.
Patterson – who is himself a former advertising executive - has also commissioned a provocative advertisement to accompany the campaign, which shows American people throwing books into a bonfire.
The petition calls on Obama to appear in public carrying a book, visit a library or store to buy a book once a month and go on record saying he’s concerned about the state of reading in the US.
“If 100,000 people sign the petition within 30 days, the president’s administration must respond to it,” the petition says.
The campaign also presents readers with concerning "facts" about reading in the US. “The average American teenager watches more than three hours of video entertainment a day… and read books for less than eight minutes a week,” one says, while another says “despite inflation, the amount the average American spends on books has decreased by more than 25% in the past 15 years.”
Interviewed on FTC Publications yesterday, Patterson, who is funding the campaign himself, said parents could do more by finding their children books they want to read in libraries or bookshops.
“There is no reason not to do it,” Patterson said “If you don’t do it, you are sending children’s out into the world with a handicap. They aren’t going to be as bright as they could be.”
This followed on from a similar pledge for indie booksellers in the US last year.