Tuesday, June 15, 2004

And, the Number One Reason to Read Books Is...
Mon Jun 7,12:17 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - In a bid to lure men in Britain away from TV soccer games and into book shops, publisher Penguin Books will send out a sexy model to offer 1,000-pound ($1,837) prizes to males spotted reading a selected title.

The publicity ploy, launched Monday, aims to boost sales among men, who on average buy fewer books than women.

"It's to sex up the book industry, which probably needs it, but also to address the more serious issue that reading has fallen off the radar of younger men," said Neil Griffiths, author of Penguin-published "Betrayal in Naples."

Penguin's so-called Good Booking Girl will canvass the streets this month for men older than 16 years reading versions of Nick Hornby's "31 Songs" that bear a special cover sticker.

A different title will be chosen each month.

At the same time, Penguin, a unit of Pearson Plc, released results of a poll in which 85 percent of women said a man could increase his chances of getting a date by talking about a favorite book.

By contrast, more than half the men polled said they believed that flattering a woman would suffice to impress her.

An accompanying Good Booking chart of 40 books recommends such lad-friendly Penguin titles as Anthony Burgess' violence-filled "A Clockwork Orange," Raymond Chandler's noir thriller "The Big Sleep" and Jack Kerouac's beat odyssey "On the Road."

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