Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Night of a Million Books

Imagine a night that is all about reading. When the eyes of the world focus on the giving and receiving of the book, in its most classical form.

In reality, March 5th, the first ever World Book Night will not truly be that: it’s not a worldwide event. Yet. But it’s really a fantastic start. The Guardian reports:
What organisers believe will be the biggest single literary event in history is to raise the curtain on next month's World Book Night, itself billed as "the biggest book give-away ever". On 4 March London's Trafalgar Square will be given over to a "glittering celebration of the written word", with 10,000 people expected to attend.
The following day, 20,000 volunteers will give away 48 copies of the book they’ve chosen from among 25 titles selected for participation in this first year.

“World Book Night is a unique collaboration between publishers, booksellers, libraries, writers and individual members of the public and one that I think is going to have an enormously positive impact on books and reading,” says Jamie Byng, chairman of World Book Night and managing director of Canongate Press. “There are few things more meaningful than the personal recommendation and having one million books given to one million different people on one night in this way is both unprecedented and hugely exciting.”

Not everyone is as excited. Again, The Guardian:
World Book Night has been accused by a number of authors and independent booksellers of damaging the struggling book trade, but Atwood -- whose novel The Blind Assassin is among those being given away -- responded by saying: "Other booksellers are enthusiastically participating, as it spreads the word on books and makes them available to people who would otherwise not have them or be able to afford them. Also: I gave a book by Kate Atkinson away recently and the person I gave it to liked it so much that she bought all the others."
We can’t help but agree. Anything that focuses this much attention on books and reading is a good thing for both industry and for people who love books and reading. A huge and highly visible book giveaway seems likely to lead to book sales in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, the 25 books chosen to participate in the inaugural event are as follows:
Kate Atkinson, Case Histories (Black Swan)
Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin (Virago)
Alan Bennett, A Life Like Other People’s (Faber/Profile)
John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (Penguin)
Lee Child, Killing Floor (Bantam)
Carol Ann Duffy, The World’s Wife (Picador)
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Vintage)
Seamus Heaney, Selected Poems (Faber)
Marian Keyes, Rachel’s Holiday (Penguin/Poolbeg)
Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Penguin)
Ben Macintyre, Agent Zigzag (Bloomsbury)
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera (Penguin)
Yann Martel, Life of Pi (Canongate)
Alexander Masters, Stuart: A Life Backwards (Fourth Estate)
Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance (Faber)
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (Sceptre)
Toni Morrison, Beloved (Vintage)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun (Fourth Estate)
David Nicholls, One Day (Hodder)
Philip Pullman, Northern Lights (Scholastic)
Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (Vintage)
C.J. Sansom, Dissolution (Pan)
Nigel Slater, Toast (Fourth Estate)
Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Penguin)
Sarah Waters, Fingersmith (Virago)


Blogger Barbara said...

Great idea! I do hope it will actually become a "world" event.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 8:03:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great idea! Thankyou for telling us about it. Maybe we can start one here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 11:43:00 AM PST  

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