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World Book Night: Sales go up despite free give-aways
Authors and publishers boosted by surprise increase in sales of books that will be handed out for World Book Night.

Most of the books being given out free tomorrow (5th March) as part of World Book Night have already received a sales boost in 2011.A report published by the Bookseller reveals the figures, which will be a welcome news for the organisers, with founder Jamie Byng facing down criticism from independent bookshop owner Stephen Poulter on last night's Newsnight. The promotion launches tonight with a live event in London's Trafalgar Square, featuring authors such as Nick Cave, Margaret Atwood and Alan Bennett.

According to Nielsen BookScan data, 16 of the 25 books have enjoyed month on month sales boosts in February and 12 of the 25 have stronger sales in February 2011 than February 2010. In total, the 25 books have sold 53,000 copies in the first three weeks of last month, worth £322,000.Byng appeared on Newsnight with Waterstone's founder Tim Waterstone, and Poulter, with the presenter Kirsty Wark announcing that the book trade was "indeed in crisis", and that Waterstone's was "in retreat" from the high street: a view Waterstone said was not accurate and that he "resented".

But Poulter said there was a crisis caused by the "devaluation" of books and criticised the free give-away. He said: "We spend our entire day sharing our passion for books with our customers, but we have to be a business, we have to survive."

But Byng said it was "readers" who sold books, and that WBN would be "driven by passion, and that is very infectious". Waterstone said he did not agree with Poulter, adding he would like to see the promotion return next year, only better: "Jamie is doing a fantastic job getting books out there. The book market is not a finite market, introduce people to reading, and they'll then buy other books."

For the full article

The Telegraph