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Coffee Vs Beer. In The Literary Stakes, Of Course

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 at 14:26 by Sue Stewart

The much respected Whitbread Book Awards have been taken over and rebranded by high street coffee-shop chain Costa.

Giles Foden, in his Guardian blog, bemoans the rebranding. Back in 1999 when he won this very prize: ‚??it was an honour… and has been since; but if it happened to me now, I’m not sure I’d want the award to be mentioned on my book jackets.‚??

Why? Because Costa Coffee sounds ‚??a little low-rent. Frankly, even Starbucks would have more of a ring to it, being closer to an idea of literary value than Costa is.‚??

Umm - hello? To a huge number of people, if the Starbucks you‚??re talking about isn‚??t a coffeeshop, it‚??s a character in Battlestar Galactica. Not a set of chronicles by Bernard Cornwell (‚??The creator of Sharpe‚??, as proclaimed on his book covers.). I rather like Battlestar Galactica - but somehow I don‚??t think it accords with Mr Foden‚??s idea of ‚??literary value‚??.

The bearded wordsmith bleats on:

‚??Founded in 1742 by the first Samuel Whitbread, the Whitbread brewing family was a chain of value in its own terms, one which one was happy for one’s book to be associated with. Not because of brewing per se but because they were stylish, radical philanthropists who put their millions to good use, establishing poor schools, funding the Drury Lane Theatre, and doing the first systematic weather observations in Britain.‚??

Yes, that‚??s what every bloke looking for a pub thought of whenever he saw the Whitbread‚??s sign. He would whinny to his mates: ‚??Oh yes. We must have a pint in here, gentlemen. It‚??s so stylish and Samuel Whitbread was a radical philanthropist, after all.‚??

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2 Comments on “Coffee Vs Beer. In The Literary Stakes, Of Course”

  1. Sharon Says:

    So what’s wrong with Costa sponsoring the book prize? They’re the coffee suppliers in our local Waterstones after all. At least they have a, albeit tenuous, connection with literature.

  2. Jislizard Says:

    Actually, I only read cheap rubbish books and drink “low rent” coffee so it seems a perfect pairing to me.

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