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So, this Tuesday gone was World Book Night and yours truly was there in Costa Coffee Prestwich for a night of books.

The lucky recipients show off their acquisitions

The lucky recipients show off their acquisitions

It was actually quite a while ago, on one of our regular writers’ group meetings that R.A Smith suggested that we do something for World Book Night. The plan: All five of us apply to be Givers on the WBN webpage and we organise an event together in a local library in order to give them away. At the same time we would do readings and give aways and other things to keep the punters amused. We support the cause of spreading the love of reading, get some local community kudos and maybe a bit pf publicity for our own projects as an added bonus side effect.

So, with alacrity we set this plan in motion by us all logging into the WBN website and submitting our applications. We each applied for different books as our first choices and enough variation in second and third choices in order to hopefully avoid any overlaps and began to discuss the event itself.

Our initial plan of using libraries fell a little flat. We got no response from any of the libraries in Stockport, where a good number of our members lived, so at a quite late stage we had to expand our search to other areas. Being selfish and lazy and not wanting to travel more than a short distance, I offered to check out the possible venues in Prestwich, all of which are only a short walk from my house. Prestwich library were very helpful when I visited them and told me that they were closed on Tuesday afternoon (insert rant about local council budget cuts and their impact on local services here…) which was why they could not host (unless they could find a member of staff willing to work overtime for no pay) but suggested that I talked to the Coffee shop just over the plaza from them as they sometimes hosted events for them. I did just that and very soon we had a venue set. All that remained then was publicity…

The books laid out ready

The books laid out ready

Another problem was when we got the notification of what books we had got. We found that only three of us had been appointed givers (myself, Joy Phillips and Ed Fortune) which was more than 50% which was good. However, despite our careful planning, we got two batches of the same book. This meant we had 40 copies of John Wagner’s The Dark Judges and only 20 of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses. Nevertheless, this gave us the challenge of having 60 books in total to give away to anyone who wanted them…

On the day itself, we got to the coffee shop by 530pm to be ready for a 6pm start. We laid our books out on one table and on another we put all our publicity stuff – bookmarks and leaflets and so on. Ninfa Hayes had thought to provide a double sided A4 sheet with extracts from two of her stories on it which I thought was a nice touch and we’d also each thought to bring along copies of all our in print books for guests to browse through. Since Transitions is not (yet) in print, I had a copy of Pirates and Swashbucklers for this.

I had been concerned that we had not done enough publicity, that no one would bother to show up. However, these concerns were soon dispelled as people began to filter in. Some people we already knew, friends of ours who lived locally, but there were also a good few who were not known to us who had been drawn here by the leaflets and posters. There were discussions, with each of us drawn off into small groups to talk about the books or our books or publishing in general and while there was an initial mistrust of the ‘free books’ (a number of people asked how much they cost…) they were soon snapped up by all there. The ‘demo’ books were also much read, being passed around from person to person. It is to be noticed that Oblivion Storm is not shown in the photograph of the ‘swag table’ This was because it was at the time being ardently read by someone. Ninfa was even nice enough to let one of the guests take one of her paperback copies of Bites away with them – signing it for her too.

We ended the event with two readings, both done by R.A Smith. One was from Oblivion Storm the other from Bites. I had intended to do a reading from Transitions but realised that the only copy of it I had on my Kindle was actually a pre-edit copy and so not the best for a reading.

By 8pm, the official end of the event, the pile of 60 books had been reduced to a much smaller pile. We had only a couple of copies of

The swag

The swag

Noughts and Crosses and about 15 of The Dark Judges. Several of these were snapped up by the event guests as they left. One copy of each was taken to be put into the library of a local school (which I personally consider a win) and several of the rest were grabbed by some friends of ours to give out to random people they saw on their way home (at least one copy was given to the staff of the chip shop we all stopped at for dinner). At the end, we were left with 8 copies of the Dark Judges and none at all of Noughts and Crosses.

I hope that all those out there who took books will enjoy them… I do feel proud of what we achieved on that day and I think a number of the event guests enjoyed the event a great deal. Next year we plan to do the same again and this time make it bigger and better!

As for the 8 books we have left… well, they are there to be given away and we *could* just give them away to people we meet in the street or leave them in a pub or on a train or something like that. However, we have discussed it and decided to run a competition to decide who gets the books. Therefore, myself, R.A Smith and Ninfa Hayes will be taking at least two of the books each and will be announcing how you can win them very soon…