Friday, 20 April 2012

World Book NIght

Monday 23rd April 2012 is this year's World Book Night, timed to coincide with Shakespeare's birthday and has long been a date on which literature has been celebrated worldwide. In 2012 World Book Night will be celebrated in the UK, Ireland, Germany and USA on the same day.

When WBN was dreamt up in 2011 some library people known to me were a bit sceptical. "What's in it for libraries?" they said. My view is always that anything promoting books and reading has to be a good thing and opportunities for the whole book industry- writers, publishers, booksellers, libraries, readers - to pull together are very rare. I was prepared to give it a go.

I understand that some writers and booksellers remain dubious about it: it does seem somewhat perverse to give their bread and butter away. However my personal experience as a giver in 2011 was so positive. Many people were delighted to be given a book that they would never, ever have walked into a shop and bought. It provided opportunities for rare and non-intrusive conversations with complete strangers and the added possibility of reminding them to use their library. It gave library staff opportunities to bring people together to talk about a great set of books and to put their creative hats on about how to get them into the hands of the maximum number of people.

This year staff are pleased to see a library message inside the free titles, which we hope will remind some people about using their local service for more free reading. It feels good to be part of something that is getting 1,ooo,ooo books into circulation. Some of them will have direct and personal impact on their readers.

So I am full of enthusiasm for Monday. I am rapidly re-reading the title I asked to give away The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell and loving it again. I plan to walk up to random members of the public in Manchester City Centre and try to give them the chance to love it too.

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