Saturday, May 10, 2008

J K Rowling leads stellar line-up of top authors for Waterstone’s charity auction

Thirteen world-class authors including J K Rowling, (left-Daily Telegraph pic), Tom Stoppard, Sebastian Faulks and Nick Hornby are to write unique storycards to be sold by Waterstone’s at the
What’s Your Story? charity auction at Waterstone’s flagship store on Piccadilly in June. All proceeds will be donated to English PEN and Dyslexia Action.
The highly-collectible storycards are expected to attract bids from as far afield as New York and Hong Kong. The cards include a new work by Children’s Laureate and much-loved poet Michael Rosen, original illustrations from Lauren Child, creator of Charlie and Lola, and Axel Scheffler, illustrator of The Gruffalo, and a whimsical African tale by Nobel Prize for Literature winner Doris Lessing.

Fans of Irvine Welsh, Neil Gaiman, Richard Ford and Lisa Appignanesi, president of English PEN, will relish this rare opportunity to purchase original – and one off - pieces of their work. Margaret Atwood will be joining the auction live from Paris to write her original storycard via her unique LongPen™ machine, which allows her to sign books remotely using a touch sensitive pad and a computer link-up to guide a robotic arm.

Gerry Johnson, Managing Director, Waterstone’s comments:
"It's impossible to say how much this charity auction will raise, but with the calibre of authors involved then really the sky is the limit. Owning an original piece of work by a favourite writer is the ultimate limited edition for fans, so with the names we have involved in What's Your Story? I think we could see some very large sums being bid - all the better for English PEN and Dyslexia Action!"

Dr Philip W. Errington, Deputy Director, Department of Printed Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s comments:
“This is a wonderfully exciting event with a stellar cast of authors supporting Waterstone’s What’s Your Story? campaign. The auction represents a wonderful opportunity to contribute to English PEN and Dyslexia Action, but uniquely, Waterstone’s are also enabling customers and the public to participate with their own stories.”

Inspired by the Royal College of Art’s annual display and auction of postcard-sized original artworks, Waterstone’s asked thirteen well-loved authors from around the world to write an original piece of work, on a blank storycard. There is no minimum or maximum word-count and the authors have free reign to tell their story in any fashion they choose. The only rule is that their story fits on one side of an A5-size storycard.

Shortly after the auction, facsimiles of selected cards will be displayed in Waterstone’s windows nationwide. Blank storycards will be available in-store, and customers and the public will be invited to join in and write their own stories. These customer cards will also make their way into the window displays, and will be featured in an online gallery at

What’s Your Story? forms part of the Waterstone’s Writer’s Year which will see unique projects unveiled each month, celebrating the writer and coinciding with the National Year of Reading 2008. The monthly events included the introduction of The Bookseller’s Bursary in April, a scheme designed to encourage budding authors within the company by sending two booksellers on an all expenses paid writing course. In May, Sebastian Faulks will select 40 books that shaped his writing for The Writer’s Table, and October will see the launch of the Waterstone’s Featured Poet.

Lisa Appignanesi, President, English PEN says:
“Stories are vital in creating bridges between individuals and cultures. They are our life-lines to imaginative understanding. They help to shape our dreams and our inner life. What's more, everyone has at least one. English PEN applauds this wonderful initiative.”

Ann Campbell, Communications Director, Dyslexia Action adds:
"Campaigns like What's Your Story? are vital in raising awareness of dyslexia. Books and stories are often closed to the 10% of the population affected by dyslexia. The money and attention raised will help these adults and children find a new and lasting interest in reading and writing. Please tell us your story.”

And on the subject of Waterstones read this from Publishers Lunch:
Waterstone's Rises In Europe
It's the season of brief trading updates. From the UK, Waterstone's parent HMV reported that sales for the past 16 weeks (through to late April) rose an encouraging 6.6 percent on a same-store sales basis. Overall sales rose 3.3 percent. (Breakout figures were not provided.)

Waterstone's managing director Gerry Johnson tells the Bookseller, "We have definitely stopped the decline and we are now growing," citing a "very strong performance" from books in particular. He added, "I think the whole base of our strategic programme is coming through and we are seeing very good results. We are very pleased."

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