Are you a casual reader, or someone whose bookshelves bow under the weight of pristine hardbacks? Perhaps you’re never without a paperback in your hand or you savour those holidays when you can finally get stuck into that thriller everyone is talking about. You might even count the books you’ve read on the fingers of one hand, or like me covet a ‘to read’ pile that’s larger than most furniture. The point is that there are plenty of types of reader out there. But what remains is a unique relationship with the books themselves.
And the world is recognising the importance of this relationship. Last week, vending machines popped up around the Canary Wharf estate offering time-poor commuters the perfect opportunity to start reading. The machines are from French company Short Édition and accompany research led by the Canary Wharf Group that showed 53 million books are left unfinished every year in the UK. It also revealed that 36% of those giving up on a book did so because of lack of time, while 30% hadn’t finished one in over six months.
The vending machines aren’t the only ways readers are being given a helping hand. In Berlin, old trees are replanted along the streets of Prenzlauer Berg, enjoying a second life as mini libraries for readers to take from and add to. Whilst in the Netherlands during National Book Week, train-goers can show a specific book in place of a ticket and travel for free.
The world likes to pitch in to help readers out, whether it’s time or access that’s the obstacle. Libraries might be disappearing at an alarming rate, but the quest to get more people reading remains. And that’s because people, and brands, understand the value in sharing time with the page.
Advertisers are no strangers to this trend, with brands such as Volvo and Baileys aligning themselves with books, whether publishing books themselves or sponsoring The Women’s Prize for Fiction. In the US, Grey Canada and Miami Ad School teamed up to publish Chapter One, a book that collects advertising creatives’ first chapters. It acts as a play on the adland cliché that every copywriter has an unfinished novel in their top drawer, but this is one whose proceeds will benefit copywriting students.
The shift marks a retro lean into the face of technology, a digital detox of sorts that sees brands using books as a ‘new’ platform to reach their audience. Below we explore examples of those brands struck by novel ideas to engage with readers and writers alike. They are returning to the page to fully embrace the power of the book-bound, written word.