April 24, 2012

World Book Night

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Last night was World Book Night. In communities across the U.S. and beyond, people and groups organized efforts to give out free copies of various books in what Anna Quindlen, an honorary chairperson for the event, describes as “an intellectual Halloween, only better.”

While World Book Night is not as global as its name suggests (it’s celebrated in the US, UK, Ireland, and Germany), participation is still substantial, as thousands of volunteers hand out free books at bars & restaurants or board buses to drive around delivering them — as Bob Minzesheimer details in this article in USA Today – to elementary schools and other organizations.

The program is sponsored by a coalition of librarians, publishers, and booksellers, a committee of whom selected 30 titles to distribute. Five of those were selected for a teenage audience, including all three installments of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (check out the full list here).

The goal of World Book Night, program director Carl Lennertz says, is “is to get good books in the hands of people who are underserved because of income or location or other reasons,” adding that it’s about “physical books in physical places, handed out person to person.” To wit, while both independent booksellers and big chains like Barnes and Noble took part in the event, Amazon was not invited to participate.

Did you participate? How did it go?

Nick Davies was a publicist at Melville House.

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