Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who Wouldn't Love a Free Book?

Our guest today is Tim Roux, the founder of the UK small press Night Publishing and purveyor of fun and frivolity in the online community of Night Reading. Check out the awesome possibilities he's checking into:

Because the Night…

There has been an extremely interesting development in the book world – the prestigious hotel group Radisson Edwardian have set up a book club whereby they give all their guests at their Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel, London, a courtesy book of the month.

Why Bloomsbury? Well, based on the Bloomsbury literary group of the early 20th century, as you might suspect.

It a bit boggles the mind how the literary editor of the Radisson Edwardian Book Club, Chris Moss of trendy London guide Time Out, chooses a book to meet the tastes of all 14,000 guests who stay there each month, but it has to be a lovely idea for people like us who enjoy a good book and, it has to be said, a good hotel, starving authors that we are.

There you are, you arrive at the hotel tired and in need of instant relaxation, the TV doesn’t appeal, you’ve seen all the movies, what you need is a good book – hey presto, here it is and, if those guests are exceptionally lucky, it will be a Night Publishing book too.

Oh come on, nobody gets that lucky.

Funnily enough, though, that is why Night Publishing is so-called. It was originally set up to supply fun business books to business travellers in hotels – not the stuff that you hang on your wall as a trophy in the unlikely pretence that you have actually read it – all ten pages that matter out of 500 anyway – but really entertaining business-related books like Matt Beaumont’s ‘Company’ or Maxx Barry’s ‘Syrup’.

Well, that idea never took off – why would a hotel be interested in offering its guests books? – but it lingered on in the publisher’s name and in its Relax at Night book showcase brand.

Full circle. Here is the Radisson Edwardian Book Club keen to indulge its guests in a good book like T.S. Elliot’s poems (they really want you to have a good night’s sleep, those guys) or ‘A Room With A View’ (geddit?), and here is Night eager once again to step up to the mark to supply them at least occasionally with just the sort of book that will make their guests happiest, a naturally talented and tasty treat from a much cherished free range author.

Happy ever after.

And what books are Night suggesting first to the Radisson Edwardian Book Club?

Well, there is Charlotte Castle’s ‘Simon’s Choice’, the broad appeal family drama which asks “Would you accompany your dying child to heaven?”

Then there is Danny Bent's 'You've Gone Too Far This Time, Sir!' chronicling the everyday adventures and misadventures of Danny Bent as he cycled 10,000 miles from London to Chembakolli in Southern India with a very sore bum and chased across mountain tops by a masked robber on horseback (headline - 'Vicious bum chases aching bum').

Third suggestion: 'The Bookie's Runner', Brendan Gisby's seminal portrait of a man of no importance - his father - who thought he had worked out how to get one big win on the horses before he died, and he was right, but …...

And then the truly outrageously good, as-Jane-Austen-would-have-written-it-if-she-had-been-born-in-Atlanta-Georgia, 'The Wilful Daughter', where a successful middle-class blacksmith is absolutely determined to marry off his five eligible and beautiful daughters to the right suitors in the appropriate order, and his fifth, most attractive and wilful, daughter is equally set on having it, and the man she loves, her way.

Finally a lyrical fable, a plea for friendship across races, however unlikely that might be, a book for all ages and all time, George Polley's 'The Old Man & The Monkey'.

Hell, I would stay in the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street just to read those books.

P.S. Actually I would like to add a personal story of my experience with the Radisson Edwardian hotel group. I used to live between France, Belgium and the UK, so travelled a lot into London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and London Gatwick airports. One day I arrived at Heathrow desperate to get onto the Internet and to have some lunch. I had travelled past the Radisson Edwardian hotel at Heathrow many times and it looked really pretty, so on that basis alone I bowled in there and said “I don’t suppose you will accept this from a non-resident, but I would love to get on the Internet and I would love to have lunch, will you help me?” They were charm itself, they offered me my own office and a not expensive lunch, and I did everything I had to do in 3-4 hours. They are still my favourite Heathrow airport hotel (and I do have experience of a few others).

Anyway, if you think that the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel might be worth a free book, here it is:

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