Brandenburg, the Börsenverein, and MVB: ‘Books Checks’ for Reading

In News by Porter Anderson

The state of Brandenburg’s ‘Reading Is Life’ campaign is providing some €3 million in book and workbook vouchers to schools.

A Brandenburg Bücherscheck, a ‘books check,’ which a school can use to buy books and workbooks in physical bookstores to support the needs of students — who are allowed to keep their reading materials

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

 Freiberg: ‘For the Promotion of Reading’
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the German book publishing community has been concerned about studies revealing falling reading-skill levels, coinciding with a disappointing reduction in the national KulturPass funding—now in its second year—meaning a cutback in in money that 18-year-olds can use to buy cultural products and services, including books.

The announcement logo for the February 14 roll-out of the ‘Book Check’ program for schools — as much as €3 million for book and workbook purchases by Brandenburg state schools to help support students’ reading growth

Today (February 14), a promising new program in the northeastern German state of Brandenburg is being introduced, and it’s based on the issuance of bücherschecks to schools, “books checks,” each worth €100 and totaling almost €3 million (US$3.3. This is part of a campaign called “Reading Is Life,” a program designed to answer “surveys showing students’ increased need for support in basic skills.”

The campaign is being rolled out by the state’s ministry of education with the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, and is designed to put spendable “books checks” into 889 schools in the state. Brandenburg’s physical bookstores will be able to redeem these “books checks” when they’re used by schools to purchase books and workbooks—the campaign’s goal being to boost those reading skills.

Tech and information provider MVB, Marketing und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH, is supporting the campaign, utilizing its infrastructure to support distribution in the project. This makes purchase and redemption of these vouchers available in more than 2,600 physical partner bookstores and other retailers advertising the “Bücher” voucher.

Our discerning readers will note the specification that books checks are for use by schools in physical bookstores. That criterion keeps them (as is the case in the national KulturPass, as well) from being spent with online retailers such as Amazon.

Gerschlauer: ‘Benefits Both Students and the Book Trade’

Some of the basic points:

  • Books checks can be redeemed by the schools in all brick-and-mortar bookstores in the state of Brandenburg until January 31 of next year.
  • Books and workbooks purchased with these vouchers can remain with the students after they’ve been used in curriculum needs.
  • Each school receives a certain number of books checks, based on the school’s size, its level of enrollment.
  • Actual deployment of the books checks is carefully vested in the hands of the educators: “The school decides which books it buys, which students should benefit from them, and how it integrates them into lessons, from shared book-wish lists to supporting workbooks and all-day learning circles.”

Steffen Freiberg

In a comment on the advent of the new program, Brandenburg education minister Steffen Freiberg says, “The large, unique campaign ‘Reading is Life’ sends a strong signal for the promotion of reading in the state of Brandenburg. It opens up a variety of opportunities to motivate students to read and to specifically support them in their learning.

“All children in Brandenburg should learn to read and write well. That’s why we initiated this campaign last year, which is now taking off. Successful reading promotion requires many partners. I would therefore like to thank the Börsenverein and the distribution company MVB for daring to undertake this project of this magnitude together with the ministry.”

Johanna Hahn

Johanna Hahn, who is managing director of the Berlin-Brandenburg element of the German Book Trade Association, says, “Promoting reading is a central concern of the book industry: it’s not only the basis for individual life, but also for social and political participation. …  ‘Reading is life’ is an outstanding campaign that we are very happy to support.

“I’m particularly pleased that all bookstores in the state of Brandenburg are included. This reflects the appreciation of the book trade as an important partner in promoting reading.”

Jörg Gerschlauer

And Jörg Gerschlauer, head of the media division at MVB, says, “With the books check, we have had an ideal instrument since 1981 to process purchases in the stationary range, including through many bookstores.

“We were immediately thrilled when we found out about this special measure and quickly made all the necessary adjustments for the state of Brandenburg.

“We’re very pleased with the result, which benefits both students and the book trade in Brandenburg.”

More from Publishing Perspectives on bookselling is here, more on culture vouchers and their development is here, more on the German book industry and market is here, and more on the work of Germany’s ministry of culture is here. Publishing Perspectives is a brand of Frankfurter Buchmesse, operated through MVB US, Inc.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.