Thursday, February 02, 2006

Free book promotion in The Times

On Monday morning this week I bought The Times as usual at Kingston station. I had to go to the Charing Cross that day, so my next stop was Richmond, where I bought a coffee and popped into W H Smith in the ticket hall for some stamps. There was an attractive woman waving copies of "The Speckled People" by Hugo Hamilton, saying "Get a free book this morning with the Times". I then remembered reading about this promotion in the Saturday edition: every Monday for the next 15 weeks or so, the Times is giving away a book if you buy the paper at WHS. I said to the woman that I was sorry I had already brought my Times at Kingston. "Oh never mind", she said, "you can have the book here". "But there isn't a WH Smith at Kingston station", I said, "only a regular newsagent". "Well that doesn't matter", she said. I told her I thought that you only qualified for a free book if you bought your Times at Smith's, but she said she'd never heard of that and why didn't I have the free book anyway? So I said thank you very much, and took it. Furthermore, it looks rather good. And what a very nice woman. (Looking on the back of the book, I think that I've worked it out. It is published by Harper Collins, a publisher that I believe is owned by Murdoch, owner of the Times. And the author has a new book coming out soon. So the free gift is probably some kind of loss leader. But never mind, at the end of the day it is a result to give people a good book to read for nothing. So thank you, all concerned.)