Celebrating World Book Day: The enduring impact of the written word

By Alex Eve, Specialist Content Writer

The best stories are the ones that stay with us and evoke our imaginations. From the moment I opened the first page of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as a child, I immediately formed an image in my head of how the Dursley family looked and went about their daily lives. The written word has a unique ability to allow us to decide how a story visually comes together. While the content I write in my role at Whiteoaks isn’t based on fiction, telling a story or narrative in an article or blog is just as important to allow the message to sink in for the reader.

Thursday 4th March 2021 marks the annual celebration of World Book Day. At the primary school I went to, this day usually turned into a week of events that celebrated everything about books, culminating in us all dressing up as our favourite fictional character at the end of the week. While World Book Day will take on a slightly different form this year, its continuing popularity highlights the enduring power of storytelling via the words on a page.

It’s almost hard to believe that iconic stories such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were written as long ago as the 1930s and 40s by J.R.R. Tolkien, and continue to sell strongly today, partly thanks to the highly successful film adaptations directed by Peter Jackson. A first edition hardback book of Philosopher’s Stone recently sold for a staggering £60,000 at auction in the UK thanks to the popularity of the Wizarding World franchise. Star Wars, while most famous as a film series devised by George Lucas, also has an expanded universe told via a series of novels.

A look at some of the other most popular film and TV franchises tells its own story in how books have impacted our modern media. The James Bond franchise, The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones all started life as written stories. And it’s not just fiction that can inspire us. Famous figures from the world of music, sport, film, fashion and numerous other industries have put their thoughts and feelings down on paper for readers to delve into.

2020 print book sales in the UK were up 5.2% on 2019 levels, hitting a total of 202 million units. Over the years, physical books have managed to weather the storm of market competition from devices such as Amazon’s Kindle to remain a go-to form of consuming content. But what is it about books that ensures their lasting appeal? With many major novels now adapted into TV or film form, what keeps people coming back to the printed page to consume a story?

From my perspective, its lasting appeal is due to a mix of childhood nostalgia and the chance to experience a different world. The last year has proven to be a difficult one for many, and to engage in a story that’s far removed from the doom and gloom of what can be reported in the news is a great opportunity for us to look after our wellbeing. So next time you’re searching for a great story, look for a book.