It was at the same library where a few weeks ago I attended an author event, a talk given by a best-selling author of crime thrillers, who mentioned that she did not like WBN as she felt it devalued books. She pointed out that authors put in many hours of research, writing and editing before a book is published - which of course all those who have written, or tried to write, a book will know - and she felt this effort should not be undermined by giving books away for free. But on the point of devaluing books or their authors - I can’t agree with her that WBN’s aims devalue books. I think, it enhances them.
Yes, thousands of books are given away, but the volunteers are asked to give wisely, not just to hand them out to their friends who fancy a freebie. We are asked to give them to people who need a bit of encouragement to read, to those who don’t regularly read for pleasure or own books. A couple of years ago I gave a WBN copy of The Book Thief to a colleague who told me he rarely read fiction. He loved it, and continued to ask me to recommend books and I leant him several. He now reads and buys fiction.
I wrote once before about giving a WBN book to a client who was had serious depression and was not able to work. Living on a meagre income, her only pleasures were her two small dogs and reading. She was thrilled to be given a book that she could keep. ‘It’s the best thing that’s happened to me for ages,’ she said. It may not have changed her life but it changed her day, and hopefully a few more days as she read the book.
There is evidence that The WBN titles actually boost sales so authors gain too. I have certainly bought some titles as I felt that having been selected for WBN, they must be worth reading. I'm sure many other people have done the same.I love the idea that I can help encourage people to develop a love of reading and am pleased to be part of WBN again this year. I hope the gift of a WBN book will 'make' a few more days for my recipients.