Chris Little - the media officer with Cumbria County Council - got back to me today and said, perfectly reasonably, that the council simply does not have any spare resources or manpower to assist this scheme. And the last thing I want to do is cause them problems.
His suggestion is to postpone until after Christmas when they will hopefully be a bit more sorted out and able to help with distribution and so on. This obviously destroys the idea of the books being Christmas presents, but it does have several things going for it.
The council will be able to get behind the scheme - and I personally think that without their support the thing is unworkable. The schools or libraries will be in a better position to act as collection/distribution points. It will be easier to get around the county.
But also, with the amount of authors we have - even with generous additional offers from publishers and booksellers, we would struggle to be able to supply children with books. At the moment it is schools and school libraries that seems a more achievable goal.
Maybe with a bit more time, we might be able to get more authors and illustrators involved and maybe more publishers and booksellers too. With a bit more time, maybe we might get hundreds of us involved. I have always believed that is possible.
Or we could simply decide that it was a nice, but unworkable, idea and call it a day. I will try and email everybody involved tomorrow and see what you all think.