Reading Partners – working with publishers, prizes and partners

At The Reading Agency, our publisher partnerships have been at the heart of our mission to tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading since the charity was formed in 2002. Reading Partners grew out of our shared agenda of getting more people to read more and is designed to support publishers, prizes and other partners in the commercial drive to build audiences and reach readers, with a focus on public libraries as democratic access points for reading. Through our campaigns, we offer publishers physical and digital platforms to creatively market books to reach new and engaged readers.

Reading Partners then…

Our founders, Debbie Hicks MBE, Miranda McKearney OBE and Anne Sarrag MBE, saw the potential for a national library network to build new strategic partnerships that would increase engagement with reading.

The Reading Agency was created by bringing together three development agencies which they were involved in and whose work was already having an impact on amplifying and connecting reading development in the library sector. These included Well Worth Reading, a marketing and promotions programme delivering off-the-shelf national reading promotions to public libraries with publishers and other partners and The Reading Partnership which published groundbreaking research Reading the Situation, Book reading, Buying and Borrowing Trends in Britain (The Reading Partnership/BML 2002). This proved the link between borrowing and buying and the unique role of libraries in building audiences for books. In this way, Reading Partners was born.

Our early work with publishers and stakeholders enabled us to enhance the opportunities for children, their families, young people and adults to engage with reading in order to create a society of readers.

Reading Partners now…

From these beginnings, our Reading Partners programme has grown to work with over 50 publishers on an annual basis to bring new and exciting reading content to readers. Our Reading Partners publisher subscriptions now offer more than ever with an opportunity to suggest titles for inclusion in monthly, themed booklist and pitch authors and illustrators for our virtual event programme, The Reading Agency Presents. Our events programme alone has welcomed over 14,260 live viewers since May 2021 and has provided a much-valued way for readers, particularly those who are struggling to access in-person events, to connect with books, authors and illustrators. We work with publishers, prizes and other partners to develop activity using our menu of campaign options or by taking a more bespoke approach.

Working closely and collaboratively with publishers of books for adults and children, we help to devise and deliver promotional campaigns reaching over 3,300 libraries, schools, prisons, care homes, hospitals, and community centres. These can include coordinating virtual and physical author events in libraries and schools, facilitating library displays, sharing resources, reading group-focused activity and more. We also host an annual virtual Reading Partners Roadshow. In 2021, this ran across two days with 52 authors and publishers presenting and approximately 1,496 delegates engaging.

‘I love these Children’s Roadshows! They encompass the best partnership working and highlight best practice among authors, illustrators, publishers, publicists, the publishing industry and libraries and librarians!’ Roadshow Attendee

In 2020-21, The Reading Agency reached over 1.9 million people across the UK, including more than 800,000 children and over 1 million adults and young people.

During the 2021/22 subscription year:

  • 220,030 people took part in Reading Partners activities
  • 1,729,880 people engaged with the publisher campaigns via our social media networks
  • 5,320 PoS packs were distributed to libraries and other organisations and 13,190 books were distributed via our promotional giveaways
  • 4,806 people attended author events in libraries and schools brokered by Reading Partners
  • 16,120 people attended our virtual events including the Roadshow and The Reading Agency Presents

‘We have loved working with the Reading Agency this year. We’re a really small team so their support has been invaluable. The opportunity to present to librarians has been particularly successful in organising events and raising author profiles.’ UCLan Publishing

Why is this work important?

The Reading Agency’s mission is to help everyone tackle life’s big challenges through the proven power of reading. We mean everyone – from toddlers to children to young adults, prisoners and older people – irrespective of age or economic background. Research shows that reading for pleasure can promote better health and wellbeing, aids in building social connections and relationships with others and is associated with a range of factors that help increase social mobility. Sullivan and Brown (2013) found that reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background. Another study found that reading significantly reduces feelings of loneliness for people aged 18-64 (Hilhorstet al., 2018).

‘The books that our group have received through the Reading Agency have really got the group going and attracted more members too. So thank you very much.’ Reading Group Leader

‘The members were all very grateful for the kind gift of the set of John Banville’s latest book, and several members felt inspired to read more of his works and took away copies of Snow as an extra read.’ Librarian

We are keen to engage with a broad range of both traditional and independent publishers in order to support The Reading Agency to deliver on its diversity and inclusion agenda.

‘Reading Friends has really helped me rediscover my love of books and the group calls have been lovely to connect with other readers and discuss books – and life in general. It is an invaluable service and I feel so lucky to have had it recommended to me.’ Reading Friend’s member taking part in a Read and Review campaign

‘It was good to give the residents something to put their focus onto with the current conditions in the world. I look forward to hearing of any other activities that will be run.’ HMP Wandsworth who took part in a Reading Partners campaign

We continually strive to reach a larger audience and we recognise the importance of listening to and collaborating with our partners and participants. Our co-creation model has been embedded into our programmes to ensure that they meet the needs of the people who will use them, while always striving to reach those who need us most.

Books for children | Books for adults.

‘Reading Partners has been invaluable in amplifying our campaigns to reach librarians and teachers across the UK. Our campaigns have always been received with enthusiasm and we’ve seen long-lasting support from those we engage beyond the immediate campaign.’ Head of Zeus

Meet the team

Kimberley Sheehan, Campaign Manager
Kimberley photo small.png
Kimberley was a primary school teacher for six years before completing a MA in Publishing and Creative Writing. She then joined The Reading Agency as part of the promotions team in 2016 and moved to the Children’s Reading Partners team a year later. She was an Events Coordinator for the London committee of the Society of Young Publishers before becoming a Co-Chair in 2019. She spends her weekends reading (unsurprisingly), baking, watching far too many crime documentaries and playing with her Dachshund, Olive.

Kathleen photo small.pngKathleen Ktorides, Campaign Officer

Kathleen joined The Reading Agency in 2006 and has worked on a number of programmes including The Summer Reading Challenge and Chatterbooks. She has been part of the Reading Partners team since 2013 and loves working on campaigns with publishers. If she could be any character from a book, she would be Lyra Belacqua from the Northern Lights trilogy. She’s feisty and brave and who wouldn’t love to spend time with a (friendly) polar bear?

Zoe Sadler, Campaign Officer
Zoe photo small.jpg
Having worked in the busy world of arts PR and marketing, Zoe joined The Reading Agency on the cusp of the first national lockdown in 2020. She devises and delivers promotional campaigns, including a virtual event with Kazuo Ishiguro and Kate Mosse for World Book Night 2021 and a nationwide short story competition with people in prison. She also leads on The Reading Agency Presents, creates the monthly booklists and provides support across The Reading Agency’s other projects, including the Teachers’ Reading Challenge and StoryTrails. An avid book club member, Zoe loves translated fiction, feminist horror and beautiful cover design.

Become a partner in 2022

Find out more about our publisher partners and the standard and enhanced subscription offer for publishers for 2022/23 here.

We are pleased to be able to offer discounted rates for small independent publishers and freelancers. You can find more information about this on page 18 of the 2022/23 subscription deck. For further information about working with us please contact [email protected].

We also work with book prizes and organisations including The Booker and International Booker Prize, The Women’s Prize for Fiction and National Poetry Day. For book prizes and other partners, a bespoke package will be created to engage the communities and groups you want to reach. You can find our prize costings here but please note these can vary depending on prize and promotion size. Contact [email protected] to discuss your campaign.

The Reading Agency

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