Bad ideas sometimes have a long half-life*
Damian Horner has an opinion blog in the bookseller today and it is a pretty shameless self-defence piece:
That is why we are moving forward with the Bookaholic concept. It gives a new twist to the mantra “You can’t put a good book down”, one that provokes comment and debate. And with limited resources, that debate will be crucial in providing the campaign with the oxygen it needs to get noticed.
The comments on the piece are developing nicely and are worth paying some attention to.
Perhaps I’m flogging a dead horse here, but it really does seem that the statement ‘I’m a Bookaholic’, as you’ve presented it Damian, ie “Hello. My name is Damian Horner and I’m a Bookaholic.” which relies on implicit irony to have any impact at all, is a slap in the face to alcoholics, especially AA members for whom that statement is part of a ritual of overcoming their addiction. Even if it’s funny, it’s insensitive. You may as well try ‘I’ve got book flu’ (or indeed ‘I’m Booktarded’). It’s asinine and that’s why it’s under attack and not recieving the support it might require to ‘work’.
But by the far the more reasoned and on the button piece (in fact there was a second one too) on this was written by the wonderful Vanessa of fidrabooks a little while ago:
“Bookaholism” – that’s what they came up with. Yes people, we’re going to liken a love of books to an addiction to alcohol. That’s classy. And it gets worse. Apparently ”among the slogans likely to be seen in the campaign – which, having been green-lit, will be prioritised and rolled out before Christmas – are “Consume no less than one a month”, “Class A reading material”, “This book is seriously addictive”, “Once you’ve started it’s hard to stop” [sorry, but that was Pringles – are we now likening our industry to crisp-selling?], and “Books are mind expanding” – I can’t see those working in our children’s bookshop or among the Morningside matrons who make up a large part of our customer base: “Yes madam, do try the new Eoin Colfer, I believe it’s very similar to crack cocaine”… Maybe not.
She wasn’t shy about offering other ideas either, this was no lame attack without substance or alternative, it was informed, clever and well thought through:
It also struck us that unlike the addiction-based scheme, it needs to be a campaign which can easily be adapted to appeal to all parts of the trade from children to older people, from avid readers to people who read only a few books a year. We also loved the American Booksellers Association slogan of “Eat. Sleep. Read.” and I’m sure that the UK could license that from them. It is quite similar to 2008’s National Year of Reading but to be fair, the message is pretty much the same with the new campaign just being tweaked to encourage people to buy books. I don’t know how ‘bookaholism’ encourages buying books specifically rather than borrowing them from the library.
In return she felt so badly abused that she stopped blogging for a while only returning this week to reveal the great news that fidra is a) opening a gallery for the summer (whoop) and b) opening an adult bookshop as well. And why not?
I’m very partisan on this front and cannot help but think that the Bookaholic idea is a dud of gigantic proportions and I look forward to it being buried in lead-lined concrete bunkers along with the other toxic and radioactive waste!
Nice weather here in Cork!