February 2012 | Nate Pedersen

World Book Night

UPDATE: Since the post was originally published, the window to become a book giver on World Book Night has closed.  Keep an eye on their website or follow them on Twitter in case they put out another call.

In a move calculated to warm the cockles of any book lover's heart, April 23, 2012 has been dubbed World Book Night.  In theory, 50,000 volunteers across the United States and Britain will each hand out free copies of twenty books.  That's 1,000,000 free books being released into the world on a single night.

Anyone can sign up to be a book giver.  The requirements are simple: you must pick up twenty copies of a book of your choice (from a generous list of thirty titles) at a local library or bookshop and give them away to people who either don't read, or read very little, over the course of the evening.  The idea is to inject some of the joy and enthusiasm of reading into the non-reading population.

The list of titles selected for World Book Night is impressive, containing massive bestsellers (such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Stand by Stephen King), popular literary fiction (including The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving), and genre standouts (such as Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton).  Each copy will be released by its publisher in a special World Book Night edition, not intended for re-sale.

Well, I'm not so sure about the "not intended for re-sale" part.  It will be interesting to see how these World Book Night editions fare on the antiquarian market in the years to come.

In the meantime, it's a noble idea and I applaud the idealism behind it.  I hope April 23, 2012 is the first of many successful World Book Nights in the years ahead.