But that’s not what they were bought for – in fact, the cause is much greater than mere financial gain.
Target Who is a group of 30 Doctor Who fans of the highest order, with an aim of sending TARGET novels (and other Doctor Who books, if need be) to schools nationwide. Ideally, they’d like to see six to ten books in every school library, both Junior and Secondary.
And it’s not really about Doctor Who; it’s about inspiring children to read. As David Dovey told me: “For us, it is our way of celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary. As the classic and new series come together this year, we as the childhood fans of yesteryear want to share with the current and next generation of fans the books that inspired and encouraged us to read.
“We hope they will sit in school libraries for many years to come, constantly being discovered and enjoyed by children.”
I think you’ll agree it’s an amazing, truly admirable feat. David tells me that it really was a group effort.
“A friend of mine spotted the eBay listing in February for over 11,000 TARGET books, in slabs of 100 and still sealed in original printers packaging. They were collection only from Essex. As I’ve helped out in a few local Junior Schools I knew just how much children love Doctor Who and how popular TARGET books novels are with today’s children that are lucky enough to have them in their school libraries.
“I told friends, ‘If I were rich, I’d buy the lot and send some off to every school in the country. Personally I can’t think of a better way of celebrating the 50th Anniversary than introducing a whole generation to TARGET Doctor Who books.’ There was lots of agreement from my friends, but all it was at that point was a crazy wish.
“Then two of them got talking together and came back with an idea: Why didn’t we do it – all put money in each? We jumped at the chance and a week later we had won the auction! We ended up getting nearer to 14,000 books, though some are damaged.”
I think the temptation to keep a lot of the books would be too great for most fans, but Target Who maintains that this project will be far more beneficial for everyone than just keeping them locked away in boxes. The group say:
“Our feeling on this is that a book in a fan’s collection will probably be read once, if ever and filed away as part of a collection. A book on a school bookshelf can be discovered by at least 30 children EVERY year. We have bought these books because we want them to be read and enjoyed again and again. Placing them in schools allows that to happen.”
But, as the group note on their blog, there are more schools in the country than they have books. That’s where you come in… “[We hope to] inspire other fans to join our cause. We don’t want them to buy 14,000 books and spread them all over the country.
“We just want them to buy as many as they can afford and donate them to the schools they can reach – one book in their nearest local school, if that’s all they can afford. If they tell us where, we will add their location to the fan donation pin map. Some fans have already done this. We have several fan donations to report in a future blog post.”
Even if it’s just one of the new Quick Reads titles, like this year’s The Silurian Gift (which costs just £1.00!), you might inspire a child to read, or inspire them to watch Doctor Who. You might even inspire them to take part in the Target Who project…
And if you head over to The Book People, you can get a set of six newly-reprinted TARGET books for just £4.99. That’s the price of grabbing a child’s attention, showing them how amazing literature is – and never letting go.
Their first donation was incredibly special to David as he returned to his own school, Featherstone Primary School, Erdington in Birmingham, when they opened their new library. He handed out copies of Doctor Who and the Cybermen, the TARGET novel that began his love affair with literacy.
David tells me that his favourite writer is the most prolific and well-regarded:
“As a young child, I guess it was Terrance Dicks, who we’ve already included a tribute to on the blog, though I also loved The Daleks by David Whitaker. Later in the range I really loved Ian Marter’s books. It was a tragedy that he died so young. I’m sure he would have embraced the Virgin New Adventure range had he still been with us and written some wonderful adult-orientated books.”
Though the idea will encompass the whole country, Target Who’s goals aren’t limited to just the UK. In fact, their second delivery was to Al Shahama Secondary Girls School in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The books, including Meglos, The Time Meddler, and Doctor Who and the Mutants, will enrich the lives of school girls who struggle to find good English literature to study and who – rather surprisingly – do watch Doctor Who. And members of Target Who live in a variety of countries, including the USA, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and even the Ukraine.
Target Who is the project that sounds crazy; impossible, even. Unless, of course, dedicated people, united by their love of one show, can get together and can do something amazing. As Target Who note:
“Well, we can and we will. Just watch us.”