Thursday, November 08, 2007

Book TV Forget it?

We were very interested to read Daniel Kalder’s article in yesterday’s Guardian Unlimited, ‘Literary TV to put you off reading forever’. Anyone who has suffered weekend stopovers in the US will probably share the views that he expressed that US Book TV needs a wake up call and is actually doing the industry a disservice.

You may think that a TV station dedicated to books is a good thing. However he claims that the production, 'could not be more amateurish', book readings ‘dull and pointless affairs’. He also claims that although there are authors who can ‘chat entertainingly, perhaps even informatively, and tell amusing stories’ they never appear on Book TV. View for yourselves at and watch their clips - they make many YouTube videos look proffessional.

Interestingly author Jeanette Winterson writing in the Times last month wrote on the same topic and described book programmes on TV ‘to be as dull as racing sloths’. She says of Mariella Frostrup’s ‘The Book Show’ that it is ‘still stuck with the usual sofas facing across a table…how do we communicate the kinetic power of books while sitting on a sofa?’. She went on to compare the passive nature of book programmes to other entertainment which were better served.

The digital age requires fresh thinking we have all witnessed the raise of the widget, the video and the growing multi media exposure we now have on the Internet. The Internet is just another broadcasting channel and as TV and the internet converge then so does how we project books.

One of the largest success stories of recent times is the growing interest in literary festivals which succeed on the basis of diversity, community and proximaty of readers to authors. How do we transfer this to TV and retain the buzz?

It was recently rumoured that a major UK trade publisher was to step into TV and we wondered wether it was wise and they have a formula that would work. We have seen the growth in interest in video clips from publishers, author and companies such as, ‘meet the author’. But what is the format that will spark the difference do what ‘The Tube’ did for music, ‘YouTube’ did for video, 'Film XX' did for movies? We take our hats off to those brave enough to say its not right today. Let's a least remove the sofa and coffee table and give it a shot of adrenaline.