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The CPNB is a foundation, set up by the NBb booksellers' union and the GAU publishers' association. Its executive comprises three booksellers and three publishers. The executive is concerned solely with financial management, and has no involvement in the content of the campaigns. The foundation employs eight people: four marketing professionals, three administrative staff and one director. The objective of the CPNB is to stimulate interest in books and book ownership. In short: books must be sold.
There are three public jury prizes:
Today, I shall only cover the three major campaigns. I shall begin with Book Week. This always lasts ten days, from a Wednesday to a Saturday. It takes place in March. This year's Book Week was the 63rd; the first was held in 1932. Until 1986, this week only developed gradually. In the past ten years however, interest in it has exploded. This year one in eight households in the Netherlands has visited a bookshop during the Book Week. This figure is unique in the world. How do we achieve it? Through a national campaign built upon two main elements: the Book Week Gift, written by a leading Dutch author, and a central theme. First, the Book Week Gift. The CPNB asks a well-known author of fiction to write a short novel. This is only available during Book Week, given away free with the purchase of a book costing at least NLG 20. Experience shows that the customer actually spends an average of NLG 30, but we deliberately keep the threshold low. The objective, after all, is to attract the customer into the shop. The author of the 1998 Book Week Gift was Arnon Grunberg, and the theme was "Landscape in Literature", under the slogan "Dutch Panorama". In October, the CPNB sends every bookshop a full-culour brochure containing all the information about the forthcoming Book Week. The bookshop uses this brochure to order its stocks of the Gift. They pay NLG 1,20 per copy. All the orders are added up to determine the print run. In 1985, this was 385,000 copies. In 1998 it was 701,000. This means that 385,000 people bought a book during the 1985 Book Week, and that this total has grown by more than 80% in 1998. Writing a Book Week Gift has become a milestone in an author's career. This year's author was 27-year old Arnon Grunberg, the youngest in the history of the Book Week Gift. Grunberg's first novel, Blue Mondays, has been translated into six languages and was enthusiastically reviewed by such publications as The New York Times. For two weeks the author has been the star of every TV show and of every news bulletin. Virtually every newspaper has run an interview with him. And there's only one way to get a copy of this author's latest book: by buying another book! So every bookshop takes part: after all, who would dare say to a customer that they don't have the latest novel by this famous author. To give you an idea of which authors have taken part, they have included Hella S. Haasse - who was recently in the French and Italian top tens - and Cees Noteboom. He wrote The Following Story: this short novel first appeared as the 1992 Book Week Gift, and was subsequently translated into more than 15 languages, reached the top ten in Germany and won several European literary prizes. You will understand, therefore, that the announcement of the author of the Book Week Gift has become big news in itself. It is covered by the TV news and makes the front page of the newspapers.
The second element is the theme. The CPNB chooses the Book Week theme in such a way that the media have a new hook for their stories. And to give booksellers ideas for their window and in-store displays. Another important advantage of having a theme is that it focuses attention upon older books and not only recent titles.
The CPNB publishes a magazine containing a description of the titles available, produces in-store materials and publishes an essay written by an author who is familiar with the theme. The promotion of Book Week is largely based upon free publicity. In order that the whole country knows that Book Week has begun, a huge authors' party - the Book Ball - is held on the eve of the first day. This year's took place on 10 March. We were only able to admit eight TV camera crews. The arrival of the authors has turned into an event comparable with the entry of gladiators into an arena. For one evening, authors are the biggest stars in the Netherlands, and every camera is turned on them. The Book Ball was covered by both the public-service and the commercial TV stations, was on every news bulletin and had its own one-hour live TV programme. The Book Ball has grown into one of the best-known annual events in the Netherlands. Book Week is a commercial success in itself, but more importantly it focuses attention firmly upon books. And this effect works throughout the year. In 1990, sales of literature were NLG 161 million (7,2 million copies); in 1997, they reached NLG 225 million (8,7 million copies); an increase of 39% (in copies: 20%).
The second major campaign, Thriller Month, is ten years old. We asked all the publishers of thrillers to pool their resources and to concentrate their campaigns in June. We published a promotional newspaper with a print run of 1,2 million copies, containing advertisements by publishers. We produced in-store materials. And we asked famous authors if they had any stories which had not yet been published in book form. Amongst those who have contributed are Frederick Forsyth, Stephen King, Elisabeth George and Robin Cook. The CPNB also made a TV commercial. The bookseller gave the book away free with any purchase of a book costing more than NLG 30. Any book! Be it a gardening book, a novel or a travel guide. We wanted to show people how enjoyable it is ro read a thriller. In 1998, we have produced 350,000 copies of a story by James Ellroy. And sales? In 1990, sales were NLG 72 million (3,7 million copies); in 1997 they had reached NLG 142 million (5,7 million copies); an increase of 97% (in copies: 52%).
The third campaign is to promote children's books. Some 85 per cent of all primary schools, 90 per cent of public libraries and 80 per cent of all bookschops participate in Children's Book Week. The children's book is an excellent means of attracting sponsors. In the Netherlands, we work with a tea company which markets a children's tea brand. During Children's Book Week, one in four families with a child aged between six and 12 visits a bookshop. These children are tomorrow's readers. And that will ensure that there will still be readers in 10 or 20 years time.