NZ Book Council promotes the power of the classics

The New Zealand Book Council has released an ad via Colenso BBDO which shows just how much classic novels can shape the world and inspire those who read them in the lead up to the release of its monthly podcast called Talking Books.

The ad, which the StopPress team discovered on the back page of AUT’s Debate magazine (and thought was pretty cool) appears to be an old list which you’d classically find in the front or the back of your library book to document who it’s been issued to. It includes the signatures of some of the great minds and talents of the 20th and 21st centuries and the apparent dates of which they borrowed George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984.

The signatures include: Ridley Scott, George Lucas, David Bowie, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Marilyn Manson, Edward Snowden and Ella Yelich aka Lorde amongst others.

The ad alludes to the tagline on the bottom right of the ad “Books shape the world” and celebrates the nature of the classic, the kind of novel that stands the test of time and inspires people for a number of generations.

According to a New Zealand Book Council release the podcast, which kicked off in April, dissects “…both the latest releases and enduring classics, with input from New Zealand’s top writers, journalists, academics and newsmakers.”

The release says there will be a primary focus on New Zealand writing and writers, and the podcasts will provide an important addition to the national arts discussion.

New Zealand Book Council chief executive Catriona Ferguson said “At a time when support for the literary arts in New Zealand is in flux, it’s vital we find new ways to spread the word about the joy of reading and promote New Zealand writers,” she says. “Our series of podcasts provides an opportunity to hear smart people talking about great books – and will hopefully foster not only a new listening habit, but encourage more diverse reading habits as well.”

The podcast is uploaded monthly to the Booknotes Unbound website.

Last month The New Zealand Book Council teamed up with Colenso to promote the 2015 Auckland Writers Festival which ran between 12-17 May with the release of ‘Well Written Weather’, a radio campaign that celebrated the power of good writing.

The campaign was in partnership with The Radio Network and replaced ordinary weather reports on a number of Auckland’s most popular stations.

A Colenso release says a new spot was written each night using the next day’s forecast as inspiration. It was then broadcast during morning rush hour and throughout the day, at times that people would usually hear the “…normal, if slightly uninspiring, weather forecast”.

An earlier ad, which was made by Colenso BBDO and follows up from the haunting and very well-awarded Going West with some more engaging paper artistry, aims to show the printed word can shape and inspire. 

A close up of hammer and sickle zooms out to reveal the cover of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto, which is then violently defaced with a drill until the head of Che Guevara appears, sculpted out of the pages.

Nielsen BookScan shows that the New Zealand book market peaked in 2010 at $146 million. Since then, the total market by value has declined by $30 million to $115 million. So the trend is certainly downward, but, year on year, sales did rise by around $100,000 in 2014 in terms of value, but volume was down by around 30,000. 

E-book sales are not included in the BookScan figures. But, according to Deloitte, print will make up 80 percent of all global book sales in dollar terms this year (with the help of Mark Zuckerberg, that might even be higher). As some have pointed out, “reports that physical books are gaining ground at the expense of digital are just plain wrong“. As that story shows, sales declines have slowed, not reversed, “Philip Jones, editor-in-chief of the Bookseller in the UK, noted a 15 percent average growth in ebook sales across the main publishers” last year and, with multi-function tablets on the rise, “Apple reports its iBooks platform is adding 1 million new users a week”.

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