Saturday, March 14, 2009

To Read or Not To Read.

A net friend of mine from Thailand will be spending 3 months of her university break in a worthwhile project. The aim of the project is to encourage young people, especially those in the age range of 13 to 15, to read more literary books. That in my opinion is an extremely noble project to pursue but June and her friends face a Herculean task.

The problem most likely begins in childhood, with most parents letting their children watch TV instead of encouraging them to read. Why? Because when children watch the idiot box, they leave their parents alone? Maybe. But without the love of reading instilled in these younger years, it becomes even more difficult as the children enter their teenage years. How do you get them to start reading when these are the years when they begin to become interested in the opposite sex and hence, are more focused in making themselves appeared attractive? After all, reading hasn’t been viewed as cool for a long time. Even Peter Parker was only seen with books when he was just a geeky teenager but as Spiderman, he appeared to have no more need for them. So again the question asks, can these young people be ‘lured’ into giving reading a try?

I have a multiple phases idea I am not sure will work. The internet is a major distraction from reading but used right, it may also become a tool to champion it.
1) Pick about 5 good books
2) Present the story in gist and simplified version via a short animation.
3) Withhold the conclusion, then reveal the book in which people can read the full story.

Of course, packaging is almost everything in today’s world so a plan is not a plan unless the plan has a plan on how to package the plan. Hey, I kinda like how that sounds – can I trademark it? But seriously folks, I do have a plan on how to package this.
1) Actual animation would complicate things and also make file slow to load, not to mention long to produce. Presentation is probably best presented in a series of drawing / pictures
2) The style of the drawing must not be too real or complicated. It should be simple, clean and almost cute, with appeal enough to young people that they will want to forward them to friends.
3) While it may be presented as powerpoint, a video or flv file is preferred. Other than the email route, it may also be uploaded into video community site such as youtube.

But can such a plan work? The creation of these animation file has the following objective.
1) While many people are not interested to read books, most do read their email and forward what they like. The file will hopefully found a percentage of people who might be intrigued enough to check out the book the next time they pass by a bookstore.
2) Discovering the story on one‘s own freewill will hopefully cultivate a genuine love for reading. This way, a person will continue to read for life instead of doing so under a campaign which runs for limited time.
3) A well made animation could continue to circulate as email attachment for years. While the initial result may be small, it will hopefully over a period of time, accumulate to a significant figure.

The whole notion seems so... idealistic. The initial stage may take a lot of work but if it breeds success, everything will be well worth it. The message will continue to go round and round in the cyberspace because someone is bound to forward it. It created first the interest, and if anyone is even intrigued enough to check out the book, it could turns into a lifelong love affair with the beauty of the written words. In the future, writer may even use the same method to promote their new books.

Which give the plan a commercial angle. Couldn’t draw well enough to present the plan? Friends talented in art too busy to help? But could not afford a professional graphic designer to do it? Approach a leading bookstore chain, preferable an international brand. Present this idea to them and I am sure they could see the benefit in store for them. The publicity they will enjoy aside, the file may also place link to the bookstore’s corporate website. Need I mention the increase of interest in reading means the increase of sales for them too?

Can this really work? Someone gimme some comments here. Anyone got any other bright ideas too? C’mon… share your view.

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