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Books Alive - four year campaign in Australia

Non-readers and lapsed readers are the target of a AUD$1 million national advertising campaign to promote the joys of reading now underway in Australia. Television and press ads running throughout November-December challenge the notion of books as objects of study and effort, focusing instead on the adventure, exhilaration and sheer pleasure to be found in their pages.

The ads mark the launch of Books Alive, a four-year campaign to promote the intrinsic value of books, reading and literacy and the books of Australian writers. Funded by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) at $2 million per year over four years, the Books Alive campaign forms part of the $240 million package known as the Book Industry Assistance Plan (BIAP) which was established by the Federal Government to help offset the effects of GST on books. This component of the BIAP is administered by the Literature Fund of the Australia Council, in consultation with a Reference Group comprising representatives of all stakeholder groups, including booksellers, publishers, libraries, government, authors, schools and literacy advocates.

The Books Alive campaign aims to re-focus national attitudes to reading and books. According to the Chair of the Literature Fund, Nicholas Hasluck, the challenge of the campaign is to turn around the perception that books demand too much time and commitment to fit comfortably into a busy life. "Books have something to offer everyone", he said. "With this campaign, we want to remind people not only of the simple pleasure of reading but also of the unique potential of books to inspire and transform lives, even while entertaining us.

It's an ambitious goal and the current advertising campaign is just the first step towards achieving it. In coming months, the message of Books Alive will be carried into schools, libraries and children's literature centres. Programs are being developed aimed at engaging the interest of young readers and showcasing the work of Australian children's writers and illustrators. At the retail level, the Reference Group will work with booksellers to mount instore displays and special Books Alive events from March onwards. Research is also underway to examine changes in reading habits and attitudes.

Spin-offs from the Books Alive campaign over the next four years promise far reaching benefits to Australian booksellers, publishers, authors and, above all to readers. The Reference Group is looking forward to strong support from the book sector in its efforts to meet the challenge of putting books back where they belong - into the hands of readers.

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