Are Male Readers an Endangered Species?

The latest book from The Book Thief author Markus Zusak, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, appeared in the bookshops last week.

But in a joint project with The View From Here and Random House it had already hit the shops a week before the official release date.

Well a shop. Fifty numbered books were released to Clarks shoe shop in Luton (UK) in what the press called an, "Alice in Wonderland-style stunt."

The idea?

A social experiment to find out if the male reader is an endangered species. Each book has a sticker in it saying

Hello sir, you have found me, please read me, take me home or leave me here for someone else.

The project was dreamt up on a cold day in January and when we approached Random House they gladly donated the 50 books by Markus worth £300.00. And Clarks? Well we wanted to place the books somewhere where men might be standing around bored whilst their wives or children shopped. Somewhere where men would chew of their arms to help pass the time. Asking them to read a book in those circumstances would show how hardened the species is against the novel.

“Where do I start when it comes to Mike and the team at The View From Here? They have so many innovative ideas, and I have to say what a brilliant thought it is to put books in the hands of reluctant shoppers. How many times have I been the bloke on the couch in the back of the store wishing I was somewhere else? Now those people have somewhere to go, and they don’t have to move an inch...A book is the perfect way to distract us from the waiting-around-while-others-shop frustration.”
Markus Zusak

Clarks were happy to take part in the experiment and placed a few copies at a time around the shop. Each book invites feedback via email and so far the experiment is still going with on average one book a day leaving the shop.

Once the project is finished and the information collected we'll let you know how it all went and give you our thoughts on the state of reading for that reclusive animal - the male reader.

In the meantime you will have to be satisfied with reading our review of the book here.

Or if you want to chat to Markus himself then make a date in your diary for his live webchat on the 24th February at


Jen P said...

Saw The Book Thief in the hands of an endangered reader on a plane at the weekend. He looked as though he was engrossed. Wish I could have seen the shoe shop - what a great idea!

Rousby said...

Glad to see some publishers are open-minded enough to participate. That's encouraging!

Stella said...

Excellent! I sure hope there will be sequels.

chris osbaldeston said...

Good idea. I'm not sure we're endangered exactly, but I think we'll see more and more projects such as this to encourage both sexes to read more.


Michael J. Kannengieser said...

A social experiment to find out if the male reader is an endangered species.

As long as there is a Sports section at the back of the newspaper, there will be male readers.