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Digital Transformation Festival Technology

BMB CCO Matt Lever on what we can learn from books during Covid-19 crisis


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

April 30, 2020 | 4 min read

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have driven people’s noses into books on a massive scale. Back in March, it was reported that sales of fiction books in the UK were up by a third, with children’s books sales climbing 234% - the third-highest level on record.

Matt Lever

BMB CCO Matt Lever on what we can learn from books during Covid-19 crisis

Matt Lever, chief creative officer at BMB, has long been an advocate for good old-fashioned paper books. In his recent session at The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival, he admitted to The Drum that he “actually used to be a bit of a snob about it.”

“But, we moved house about a year ago and so 97% of my books are in storage or in the loft because we've yet to finish the house – so I’ve been using my Kindle a lot more.”

Currently on his Kindle is Andrew Roberts’ epic biography of Winston Churchill, which Lever says has been an illuminating read in the current climate:

“I think something we’re all trying to cling onto at the moment is leadership… to [read about] someone who has very strongly held beliefs unwaveringly backing themselves, and not being intimidated by the weight of opposition is something that, at the moment, feels very relevant.”

However, he also emphasised the importance of immersive literature at a time like the present, citing Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels as the perfect form of escapism.

Lever said he loves the way Fleming describes something as simple as “a plate of scrambled eggs.”

“The way he talks about wine, the way he talks about foreign destinations that nobody at the time the books were published would have been to… I just find it so fascinating, because it must have been so exotic…you can see why the books became so enormous.”

Lever’s favourite books, however, "remain the ones with human emotion and human truths at the centre." They include Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which he called ”timeless stories.”

His recommended reading for the industry included Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers by Mike Sacks, Blah! Blah! Blah! by St Luke's Dave Buonaguidi and The Copy Book by D&AD, which Lever called ”the best introduction for copywriting you'll find.”

For the current moment, Lever finally recommended Roger's Profanisaurus by Chris Donald, Graham Dury, and Simon Donald, ”Because at the moment we all need to be laughing more. We're losing our ability to have office banter and water cooler chat, so anything that provides you with a moment away from work is useful.”

You can watch the full interview here and view more content from The Drum's Digital Transformation Festival here.

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