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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Great Book Giveaway--World Book Night!

There’s an exciting publishing event about to happen in England. According to an article in The Guardian, on the night of March 5, 2011, one million books will be given away to one million different people on one night.

Twenty thousand book lovers will have the chance to choose the title they most want to give away. Anyone can apply to be a giver, and each giver will be able to donate forty-eight copies of the book they love best to anyone they think might love the book too. Givers will choose from a list selected by booksellers, authors, and librarians.

The event is being backed by such prestigious authors as Margaret Atwood, John le Carre, JK Rowling, Dave Eggers, and Seamus Heaney, as well as well-known musicians, actors, and artists. Jamie Byng, chief of publisher Canongate, is the chairman of World Book Night.

Le Carre’s book, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, is one of the books that will be given away. Le Carre is quoted as saying, “No writer can ask more than this: that his book should be handed in thousands to people who might otherwise never get to read it and will in turn hand it to thousands more. That his book should also pass from one generation to another as a story to challenge and excite each reader in his time—that is beyond his most ambitious dreams.”

Besides Le Carre’s book, a few of the other selected books are The Killing Floor by Lee Child; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon; Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney; Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; A Life Like Other People’s by Alan Bennett; The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid; Life of Pi by Yann Martel; Beloved by Toni Morrison; and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.

The printed book lives! Or as Robert McCrum says in a December article in the Guardian, “The printed word remains in rude good health, despite the merchants of doom.”

Organizers hope to go global in the future. First England, next America?


  1. Incredible idea. And how exciting that it is actually happening. I clicked on the link and read the article in the Guardian and thought, "Hmm, some great books here." Several I hadn't heard of, several I wouldn't have included, but a number that are very worth reading in my opinion.

    Then I went to the comments posted below the Guardian article. Out of the 50 I read, only 5 were positive, and many were downright nasty. Yikes! Yes, there are surely refinements to be made to the system, but getting books into the hands of interested readers is always a good thing as far as I can see.

  2. I was surprised at some of the comments, too. I'm with SV541, who wrote: "Lot of negativity here--I think it's a fantastic idea."