Author Jojo Moyes has stumped up funds to save an adult literacy scheme from closure after it lost its sponsorship.
Moyes, whose books include the best-selling Me Before You, will fund the £360,000 budget to keep the Quick Reads scheme going for another three years.
The initiative has distributed 4.8 million copies of short novels by big-name authors since it began in 2006.
She said: “Every now and then you have to make a decision about whether you’re going to make a difference somewhere.”
Quick Reads commissions high-profile authors to write novels that are aimed at people with lower literacy levels as well as those who may have little time for reading or have fallen out of the habit.
They are sold for £1 and are distributed to libraries, prisons, colleges, hospitals and adult learning organisations.
Moyes contributed a story, Paris For One, in 2015, and other authors who have taken part include Andy McNab, Jeffrey Archer, Malala, Roddy Doyle, Mark Billingham and Fern Britton.
Moyes told BBC News it was a “really effective low-cost method of improving the reading skills and enjoyment” of less confident readers and others.
She said the decision to end it was “a really short-sighted measure at a time when libraries are closing”.
Quick Reads was sponsored by chocolate company Galaxy from 2010-16. They provided limited support last year but then pulled out completely, and publishers and private donors chipped in to keep it going this year.
But a search for a new sponsor proved fruitless and the scheme was due to be wound up.
‘It’s a win-win’
However, with Moyes’ backing, it will now resume from 2020-23.
She said: “I talked to my husband over a long weekend and did some diligence, but the more we spoke to people who had been involved in it, the more we felt it was vital that it continued.
“My aim is to buy them a window, if you like, so we can put other long-term funding in place at the end of three years.
“I just don’t think this is a scheme should fail because it’s a win for authors, it’s a win for publishers and it’s certainly a win for readers.”
The scheme is run by The Reading Agency, whose chief executive Sue Wilkinson said: “It was with a heavy heart that we announced the end of Quick Reads last month, after seeking ongoing support for the initiative for 18 months.
“We couldn’t be more thankful to Jojo for recognising the importance of the scheme and so generously providing the funding to enable it to continue.
“The moving testimonies from the public, authors and all of our partners last month demonstrated how much they value these wonderful books and how Quick Reads have touched so many people’s lives.”