If anyone is going to sing the praises of the e-reader it’s an airline right? After all, e-readers are light, store a bunch of books, and slide easily into airplane seat pockets.

Well, don’t be so sure. Like a veracious reader who’d rather drown in books than streamline their collection, Qantas is putting the book back into their customer’s hands.

This week Australia’s flagship airline announced a new partnership with publisher Hachette to provide Platinum One members – their most frequent flyers – with bespoke paperbacks for long haul flights. The two companies collaborated with agency Droga5 to get the initiative off the ground.

‘In this world of Kindles and iPads, it seems that the last bastion of the humble, paperback novel is actually at 40,000 feet. You only need to look at the bulging shelves at any airport bookstore. Maybe it’s the fact that everything seems so far removed from the real world up there,’ said David Nobay, Creative Chairman of Droga5 Sydney.

Labelled ‘Stories for Every Journey’, one of the interesting aspects of the campaign is that the books are timed perfectly to align with the length of Qantas’ expanded routes.

Featuring ten carefully curated works form Hachette’s list of Australian authors, both fiction and non-fiction, the stories will unfold as passengers travel popular routes from Sydney to Dubai, Melbourne to London and Perth to Singapore.

So then what about those little distractions during flights, like the arrival of the drink cart? (Or for the non-literary amongst us – food service?) Well according to a statement from Hachette, that’s all been factored into the experience.

‘With the average reader reading approximately a page per minute, the shorter reads will take you form tarmac to tarmac, while the longer flight timed books also allow for a great meal, a glass of something delicious and a rest break.’

Authors on offer include James Castrission, Tony Cavanaugh, Sean Fewster, Kimberley Freeman, Lian Hearn, William McInnes, Peter FitzSimons, Jack Marx, Rob Mundle and Roland Perry, in a collection that spans the skies of genre, including adventure, crime, women’s fiction, literary, history and romance.

‘One of the greatest challenges in publishing is to remind people of the pleasure that reading brings, and that even though the online world is growing, there is still a romance in the printed page. At Hachette, we are always looking for new ways to bring stories and voices to life so when Droga5 approached us to discuss this idea we jumped straight in. It’s been great fun working with them,’ said Fiona Hazard, Publishing Director of Hachette Australia.

Qantas have really gone for the whole judging a book by its cover idea. To ensure the books reflect the status and standards of their Platinum One members, Droga5 enlisted celebrated designer Paul Belford to craft unique covers. To really drive home the bespoke quality of the books, they’re packaged in a gift box and sent to ‘Qantas’ most valued passengers’ with a personal salutation from Qantas Frequent Flyer CEO Lesley Grant.

Economy class travellers can presumably expect a dog-eared version of Australian Way jammed between barf bags in the seat in front of them.

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