Authors including Khaled Hosseini, Jacqueline Wilson, Hilary Mantel and David Walliams are among those taking part in the Buy Books For Syria Campaign. This was started by Waterstones, which is aiming to raise £1m through the sale of books, with 100% of the retail price being donated to Oxfam's Syria Appeal. Some of the industry's biggest publishers have joined in to donate book titles to the cause, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster.
The campaign starts from 1 October and will see Buy Books For Syria labels on all the titles that have been donated to the cause. Every penny from the sales of donated titles will go directly to Oxfam's Syria Appeal, with authors, publishers and Waterstones not making any money from them. Many took to Twitter to lend their support to the campaign, with #BuyBooksForSyria trending in Britain on Monday 28 September.
"In desperate times like these, everyone feels the need to do something, to help in some way," said Waterstones' managing director James Daunt. "We are doing what we do best: bookselling, and it only feels right that every single penny of each book sold will go straight to Oxfam. We are proud to be able to transform the generosity of authors and publishers into such a substantial contribution to Oxfam's work."
Daunt added that he was grateful to the owner and board of Waterstones who put the revenue profit to one side to support the campaign.
The idea for the campaign is said to have come from Profile editor Mark Ellingham and titles in the appeal include We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler), Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson) and others. Publishers are said to have provided between 1,000 and 2,000 copies of each title.
"We often speak as an industry about the power of books to change lives – our aim with this campaign is to use the power of books to save life," said Tom Weldon, CEO of Penguin Random House UK. "I'm humbled by the way publishers and authors are collaborating to support Waterstones and Oxfam in this initiative. I hope that together we can make a difference."
Participating authors were quick to voice their support for the appeal, with Salman Rushdie saying he was "delighted" to be a part of the efforts and David Nicholls said it was a wonderful way to turn his "passion for the written word into practical help at a time of terrible crisis". Ian Rankin urged people to "buy a book, help save a life". Mark Haddon said he was visiting the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan along with Oxfam and "wholeheartedly" supports the campaign and the work Oxfam is doing.
Caitlin Moran voiced her concerns over the Syrian refugee crisis and promised the refugees that they would not have to go through the suffering alone: "Whilst the governments of this world fail to come up with a solution to this problem, I am proud to do as millions of others have, and say: 'We see you, we hear you, we will not let you suffer this alone. We promise – help is coming.'"
Earlier this month, children's author Patrick Ness raised more than £500,000 for Syria. He offered to match the first £10,000 in donations and his campaign was quickly joined by other authors including John Green, Derek Landy, Jojo Moyes, Anthony Horowitz, Marian Keyes and Philip Pullman.