Recognizing the central and irreplaceable role books have played in American history and culture, and taking note of the unprecedented economic pressures that have made the survival of books an open question, Congress acts today to save the book for future generations.
Key components of the bailout legislation include:
- A bookshop in every city of 25,000 or more. Low cost loans made available to get these shops open by the end of the year. The bigger the city, the bigger the investment;
- A library in every community, open and staffed 24 hours a day. Special supplementary grants to bring collections up to date;
- Establishment of a National Bookselling and Publishing Academy, with the stature of West Point- a prestigious institution with a faculty consisting of the best minds in the field, and a student body of professionals who will graduate with the long-term support of their government for their career in books;
- A National Reading Corps, to consist of thousands of unemployed workers who will be trained to fan out to communities across the country this summer. They will conduct story-times and promote books and reading at schools, playgrounds, nursing homes, hospitals, community centers- wherever people gather. The goal is nothing short of a fully literate population;
- A National Author Tour in the fall, funded by the government, that would put one thousand authors on the road for six weeks, with readings and events in every corner of the country, with special emphasis on inner city neighborhoods, small towns and rural areas that have never seen a live author. These events would leave a new functioning bookshop in every location;
- A massive investment in translated books, with generous subsidies to publishers who undertake bringing the world’s literature to American readers at affordable prices, and raising the percentage of international books translated into English to 20%. Conversely, we will hire and fund a Book Corps (modeled on the Peace Corps) that will fan out across the globe with the mission of spreading literacy, helping local bookshops get established, and making American books available everywhere;
- The New Baby Book Bonus: henceforth, the family of every child born in the US will receive a voucher worth $500 for the first, and subsequent twelve, years of the child’s life. This voucher would be redeemable for books purchased at a bookstore, with the goal of establishing a home library in every American household.
[I came across this 2009 piece among a batch of old folders, author unknown. Sad that it seems like an April Fool's idea.]