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A range of facemasks for independent booksellers to sell, created by Out of Print (OOP), the Penguin Random House (PRH) company that creates literary gifts and accessories, has proved the most successful new product launch in OOP’s ten year history.

The range includes a Banned Books mask, which features the titles The Catcher in the Rye, Go Tell it on the Mountain and Lord of the Rings, among others – all of which have been banned at one time or another in the US.  There is also a mask inspired by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which displays the words ‘Don’t Panic; and there is also one which simply says ‘Book nerd’.

More than 13,000 masks were pre-ordered at the end of June and are now available in US independents.  A portion of each sale is being given to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) to help bookstores affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) approached OOP earlier this year asking for book-themed masks for store staff and customers.  ABA CEO Allison Hill said: “Out of Print has always been a great partner to the indies and a great example of blending social responsibility with business. ABA is excited about this launch and very grateful for Out of Print’s support of Binc.”

Founded in 2010 and bought by PRH in 2017, OOP has made social responsibility and ‘giving back’ part of its ethos.  It donated $50,000 to the Black Lives Matter movement, and over the past decade has given more than four million books to the needy.

Tedd Lawton, co-founder and MD, said: “We believe in the transformative power of books,” Lawton said: “Our products enable readers to proudly show the world their love of reading and their connectivity to favourite authors, as they bring their work to the attention of a wider audience.”