Hardeep Singh Kohli and Ed Vaizey, the DCMS Minister with responsibility for libraries
Our Reading Partners scheme is revolutionising the way libraries and publishers work together to reach readers. We started it in 2004 because we wanted everyone in local communities to benefit from author events and exciting reading promotions. To achieve this, we needed to change publishers' mind sets.
"We've made so much progress through Reading Partners that it's now hard to imagine a book campaign without some kind of library involvement. Five years on, we're working brilliantly well together." Joanna Prior, Managing Director, Penguin General Books
We have built a whole new framework for national collaboration, helping publishers reach readers through libraries' 4,000 branches and 10,000 reading groups. This has led to exciting author events, on-line reading groups and big community reading promotions.
In the Resources column to the right, you can download case studies of events with authors including Kazuo Ishiguro and Hardeep Singh Kohli.
New research into digital reading
As part of our Reading Partners work we organised a major digital marketing event in spring 2011 to create an action plan around libraries and digital reading. We will share that with you as soon as we can and will publish it here when it is ready.
But to inform the event and sharpen the thinking around digital reader development, earlier this year we invited all public library authorities in England, Scotland and Wales to participate in an online survey. Full responses were received from 113 authorities - a completion rate of 52.6%.
Author support for libraries
Reading Partners is a very graphic illustration of what can be achieved when authors, publishers, libraries and readers all come together. We are very concerned about the impact of the cuts facing libraries and have produced a briefing sheet for authors. We are appealing to all authors to support libraries by sending their quotes about libraries to their publicist or editor. We would then like these quotes sent to us by emailing author support. We will publish the quotes on our website and use them in our work to make the case for supporting public libraries.
Reading Partners roadshows
Reading Partners runs a number of roadshows throughout the year that bring ibrarians, publishers and authors together to reach more readers and the roadshow proved to be a fantastically successful way of bringing people together to network and exchange ideas.
Our latest roadshow, in partnership with Cyprus Well, invited librarians in the south west, publishers and local authors to a regional roadshow at Exeter Central Library at the beginning of February. It was particularly appreciated at a time when market conditions limit such opportunities for networking and sharing ideas. Vicki Goldie from Bournemouth libraries said: "it gave me a valuable insight into the background of publishing, and I think it also gave us in libraries a voice." The next roadshow will take place 5 May at Brighton Jubilee Library.
Reception and three year strategy
We held a big reception to celebrate five years of Reading Partners. The event was sponsored by Nielsen Book and attended by a rare mix of public and private sector supporters. We announced our new three year strategy and the roll out of our children's pilot.
Nick Hornby spoke about the growing importance of libraries' work to spread reading:
"It is hard to convert new people at festivals and bookstore events. We are effectively preaching to the converted. But libraries create readers. It is becoming only libraries that are thinking imaginatively about how we create a nation of readers. A more literary nation is a healthier and wealthier nation. The whole country needs readers, and we need libraries to create them."
New three year strategy
From now until 2013, Reading Partners will focus on:
- Community and diversity: making libraries the place to go find diverse, engaged audiences for events and promotions, break new authors and tap into market opportunities amongst BME communities.
- Digital marketing: exploiting the potential for shared digital marketing, including trialing online reading groups and author tours and using libraries' plasma screens.
- Partnerships: looking for new ways to collaborate with independent bookshops and the media, including Channel 4's TV BookClub. Other new partners include the Arts Council's Arts Nation campaign, Nielsen, Asia House and the Muslim Writers Awards.
- Workforce development: building skills to spread library author events through joint industry training and Roadshows to share skills and content.
Reading Partners at work
The Help was the American publishing success story of 2009 and remained on best-seller lists well into 2010. The debut novel of writer Kathryn Stockett, The Help, published by Penguin, tells the story of a group of black domestic maids in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, who get together to tell stories about their lives working for upper class Southern white families. It is one example of how we can bring libraries and publishers together to reach more readers.
Almost uniquely, The Help reached No.1 in the New York Times bestseller list a year after it was first published. One factor in its 'slow-burn' triumph was the word of mouth recommendations from reading groups who had enjoyed it. So for its UK launch, Penguin wanted to reach reading groups via libraries nationwide. As Penguin had a been a founding member in Reading Partners, working with it regularly to promote its titles, the consortium was a natural place to turn for support.
"We wanted reading groups to 'discover' The Help before anybody else did, read and discuss it, and get conversations going," says Penguin marketing director Jane Rose. She and colleagues produced reading guide questions to prompt discussion, along with A3 colour posters for promotional use by libraries.500 advance, pre-paperback books were also made available for reading groups' use.
Over 50 library authorities from right across the UK yielded reading groups took part. Participating reading groups were encouraged to send back their reviews, to give Penguin important feedback direct from readers. By September 2010 work was still ongoing but has received 200 reviews, with Reading Partners compiling them into a user-friendly summary document for Penguin.
Read the fullprofile of The Help.
Only Time Will Tell - Jeffrey Archer
_"Jeffrey Archer was a real showman; both honest and blunt about his work. I was amazed and pleased that this was a free event; these sorts of events show libraries to be a professional and truly public service." _ Alexia Gardner, Bristol Big Read author event attendee.
Only Time Will Tell is the first novel in Jeffrey Archer's new bestselling family saga The Clifton Chronicles, set in Bristol and centred around the life and family of Harry Clifton, born in the backstreets of Bristol in 1919. Bristol City Council's library service had helped publishers Macmillan - a launch member of Reading Partners - to publicise the novel's hardback launch, and Destination Bristol - the destination management partnership for Bristol and South Gloucestershire - had acted as major supporters due to its setting. So for the book's paperback launch, Macmillan's marketing team decided to join up promotional planning with Bristol libraries, with lead literature development charity for the South West Cyprus Well, and The Reading Agency, with libraries to be the driving force in linking Only Time Will Tell to the city of Bristol, and in encouraging Bristol's citizens to adopt the novel as their own.
"Reading Partners offers a co-ordinated solution to get digital marketing content to the UK library and reading groups network. Last year we worked together to promote our ReadersPlace online community site with innovative marketing and the use of widgets, as well as successfully hosting a series of online chats between authors and reading groups. This year, we're piloting a brand new online readers group network. The Reading Agency's access to readers groups has added a whole new dimension to our digital marketing and content strategy." Maureen Corish, Communications Director, Random House
Read the Vintage Online Reading Groups profile.
Praise for Reading Partners
"The millions of people who walk into 4000 libraries every day offer publishers and writers a different route to readers. Through Reading Partners we've been able to work with libraries across the country to bring our writers and their work to the attention of this audience in exciting new ways. The relationship between activities in libraries and book purchasing is dynamic and something that publishers are now much more attentive to in their marketing." Stephen Page, CEO, Faber
Reading Partners has 'completely transformed' a once perceived 'commercial insignificance' of libraries, Stephen Page has commented in a recent Bookseller article "Five years on the results have been remarkable." To read the full Bookseller article
Reading Partners impact reports
For more information about our work in 2008, read the Evaluation Report 2008
Read about the early work of Reading Partners in the Reading Partners Five Year Report, which includes information, statistics and key ways libraries and the book trade can work together.
Go to Children's Reading Partners for information on our scheme for children's publishers.
When it started, five publishers were involved in a two year pilot - now there are now 34. These are the publishers involved in Reading Partners (see the Children's Reading Partners page for those publishers involved in our new scheme for libraries and children's publishers).
We are now delighted to welcome Palgrave Macmillan to Reading Partners.
Allison & Busby
The Book Guild Ltd
Constable & Robinson
Harlequin Mills and Boon
Quaestor 2000 Ltd
Follow Reading Partners on Twitter at twitter.com/readwithsandy
- Jeffrey Archer case study
- Gillian Slovo case study
- Kazuo Ishiguro case study
- Hardeep Singh Kohli case study
- Jasvinder Sanghera case study
- Girls' Night In case study
- Tim Campbell at City Business Library Case Study.pdf
- Digital research report