January 28, 2011

World Book Night launched


Taking a cue from UNESCO’s World Book Day, a group of distinguished editors, booksellers and agents in the UK have launched World Book Night, which, according to their website “represents the most ambitious and far-reaching celebration of adult books and reading ever attempted in the UK and Ireland.

Scheduled for the evening of March 5th, two days after World Book Day, “one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.”  To achieve its goal, the group has put out a call for 20,00o passionate reader-volunteers to distribute  48 copies each of 25 titles.

The title selection process, according to their website, was as follows:

An independent editorial committee composed of a broad mix of booksellers, librarians, authors, broadcasters and other individuals carefully selected the 25 titles to be given away to the public on World Book Night. Prior to this, the entire book trade was canvassed for recommendations and hundreds of lists were received. The final selection offers a wide array of outstanding books encompassing all types of fiction be it historical, literary, crime and commercial as well as poetry, memoir and young adult. Whether a huge bestseller, a prize-winning debut, a lesser known gem or an undisputed classic, it was felt that every book needed to be an accessible work of enduring quality that people would feel passionate about sharing with others.

With a few exceptions, none of the books selected books need a push into the wider world — they include Life of Pi, The Curious Incident of the Dog at Midnight and Half a Yellow Sun to name some — but I believe they are worthy books deserving wider readerships.

To participate as a giver, you merely need to have read some of the books in the list, not be employed or related to anyone employed by the publisher of the chosen book, and most importantly, you must be available to hand out books at your local library on March 5 2011.

Perhaps we can get a report from a MobyLives reader about the proceedings that day? We’d love to know if one of our own august readers in the UK has volunteered for this.

Meanwhile, here’s to hoping the idea catches on in the US.