British prime ministerial hopeful David Cameron was pictured this week reading a copy of Ian McEwan's latest On Chesil Beach on the London tube. This piece in the Guardian calls Cameron's move to get himself photographed with a literary novel as an excellent brand-building exercise:
The McEwan brand is perfect for Cameron. It says "I like fiction. I'm in touch with my feminine side. And I support the arts." Cameron's endorsement is a moment of brand-recognition no amount of money can buy... Interestingly, it is more than equalled by his popularity in the US.
With the current spotlight on the declining status of book review sections in the US, one wonders if Cameron's picture may have clues to the malady that affects American society. Can a George W Bush hope to swing the tide in his favour by getting photographed with an intelligent book in his hands? Would such a thing affect Americans? I am no authority on the subject but my reading informs me it is unlikely to. One reason perhaps why newspaper managements consider book review sections dispensable.