The European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), the “non-commercial European and International umbrella association representing national Booksellers’ Associations and booksellers over the world,” has just launched the My Next Read (#mynextread) campaign, inviting readers to “Inspire Europe. Share #mynextread.” The campaign urges them to “Snap yourself with the cover of your next read, don’t be shy,” then “Share: Post it to your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook profile tagged as #mynextread.” And finally, “Inspire: You’re now inspiring fellow readers across Europe at”

The campaign is yoked together on the My Next Read website with the EIBF’s Book Charter, which also urges readers “at the same time, to recognize and to acknowledge that despite all the quantum leaps forward in technology, physical places – bookstores and libraries – remain the best places for consumers to discover books.” You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that the campaign’s devisers have deduced that far more people will be snapping pictures of the jacket of their physical book than will be taking shots of the splash screens on their Kindle – although I’d be interested to see how the statistics compare in practice.

“There are two indispensable principles to be remembered always: public funds need to be used to continue the support of public libraries and, public policies need to promote a competitive business environment,” the EIBF Book Charter continues. “In the end, readers lose when funds to support libraries are reduced or when government policies reduce the ability of community-based retail bookstores to compete on a level playing field.” The Book Charter also argues for many propositions and policies that I fully endorse. For  instance, “consumers should have the freedom to purchase e-books from any supplier – and not be locked into one supplier’s ecosystem. When buying from any given supplier, they should be able to enjoy open systems, and transfer the e-book to the tablet or e-reader of their choice.” And “whether a book is paper or digital, ordered online or bought in a shop, tax discrimination that hampers access to books should be avoided. Reduced or zero rate of VAT should be applied across all formats.”

May it be so. But I still have a sneaking feeling that the book-snapping participants in this simple three-step (actually, two-step) social media exercise are being enlisted in the service of an agenda that is not explicit in the #mynextread campaign. Do its mechanics reflect the goals of the Book Charter? Do they give readers a means to confirm their support for (or dissent from) the propositions of the Book Charter? Is the aim of “inspiring fellow readers across Europe” specifically linked to the goals of the Book Charter?

As said, I’d support just about every proposition in the Book Charter at least 70 percent, and most of them 100 percent. But I’d still hate to see figures from the #mynextread campaign being used as any kind of validation for it.



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