Bound to please
The 12th annual Scottish Book Fortnight is being launched today to highlight the diverse range of writing talent, as well as the dynamic bookselling and publishing activity in Scotland.
Organised by the Scottish Book Marketing Group, it is a collaborative venture among publishers, authors, booksellers and libraries which includes readings in schools and libraries and special promotions in bookshops.
More than 60,000 free brochures have been produced which highlight some 40 books covering subjects from Scottish fiction, poetry and history to sport, biography and children's books.
Alan Shanks, information and promotions manager of the Scottish Publishers Association, said: "Scottish Book Fortnight is intended to reflect the fun aspect of reading and the buoyancy of Scottish publishing's output.
"It is designed to encourage adults and children to consider the range and vibrancy of books being published in and about Scotland. As far as children are concerned reading should be colourful and challenging and we intend to appeal to children in the hope that they engage in a 'reading life' and become book buyers."
The balance between the educational and the commercial aspects of SBF is crucial to its "non-generic nature". "We promote all kinds of books aimed at the general reader. The non-generic nature of our approach is to ensure that Scottish publishing's output is as accessible to as wide a range of readers as possible."
Having said that, the Book Fortnight is deliberately focusing attention on poetry books such as Donny O'Rourke's collection The Waistband and A Treasury of Scottish Verse edited by FM Robertson because "poetry generally does not get a big push and we made a definite decision to redress this balance," said Alan Shanks.
The range of events for children includes school and library readings by Glenn Telfer whose three Scots Legends books cover William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Jock Stein (for 10 to 14-year-olds), while other books featured in the SBF brochure include Joanne Rowling's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (for nine year olds upwards), Frank Rodgers's The Pirate and the Pig (four to seven) and Julie Bertagna's The Spark Gap (12 and up).
"There are academic and history books which might appeal to the teenage market, but we shouldn't forget that children are sophisticated today and a novel like Muriel Gray's Furnace could appeal as much as an 'educational' book," Shanks adds.
With 50 titles being promoted through 100 events, he is confident SBF will have a definite educational and commercial impact. "Outwith the Edinburgh Book Festival we are the only major book promotion event which takes into account the full range and quality of Scottish publishing and we are the only sustained book event that includes children's, adults' and academic books."
Every year the Scottish Book Marketing Group presents a Contribution Award at the launch of SBF. Last year the award was for booksellers and was given to James Thin. This year's award, to be announced today, is for publishers and the shortleet is Argyll Publishing, Canongate, Floris, Lomond Books, Polygon and Tuckwell Press. The award is voted by booksellers, libraries and publishers.
Schools wishing to take part in Scottish Book Fortnight should contact their local library authority. All events are free. Copies of the free brochure can be requested from the SPA, Scottish Book Centre, 137 Dundee Street, Edinburgh EH11 1BG (0131 228 6866).