Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Writing on Wednesday: World Book Day and Night

Tomorrow is World Book Day, but just in the UK and Ireland

OK, having left you with that thought for a few seconds, I'll move on.

The other 100 or so countries who participate, do so on the 23rd April, and do you want to know why?

Well, it turns out that April 23rd is when Miguel de Cervantes died. So in 1923 when Spanish booksellers decided to honour and celebrate the man this is how they decided to do it: Cervantes was born in Catalunya, where the tradition since mediaeval times has been for men to give their lovers roses on the 23rd April. The booksellers decided what if the women gave the men books in return.

In 1995 UNESCO caught onto the idea and what to do you know? Shakespeare also died on that day and some pretty famous writers were born on that day too, so UNESCO decided to jump on the bandwagon and call it World Book and Copyright Day. What with that not being terribly catchy, most people just call it World Book Day. And voila, a day to honour books and all things booky was born.

This year a new book event called World Book Night will happen for the first time in the UK and Ireland on March 5th. The idea is that:

On Saturday, 5 March 2011... one million books will be given away by an army of passionate readers to members of the public across the UK and Ireland.
The book give-away will comprise 40,000 copies of each of the 25 carefully selected titles, to be given away by 20,000 ‘givers’...
Quote taken from here
Last week Nicola Morgan over at Help! I need a publisher expressed her reservations about this event. You can read them here. In the same post instead of just complaining, she came up with an idea to take positive action so that everybody benefits in some way from World Book Night. She suggested that:
One day between now and next Saturday (March 5th), let's each of us buy a book, preferably from an actual bookshop, or direct from a publisher. Any book. Write inside it: "Given in the spirit of World Book Night, March 5th 2011 and bought from [insert name of shop] - please enjoy and tell people about it." And give it to someone. Anyone. A friend or stranger, a library or school or doctor's surgery or anything.

It's very simple and everyone wins: the bookshop, the recipient, the author, the publisher, the agent, even you, the giver, because you'll enjoy the frisson of pleasure that comes from giving.
 Nicola's idea has been greeted positively in the bookish world and has even been reported in the Bookseller, the Gruniad and been reposted on Facebook by my mate in Panama. If you would like to participate in the alternative WBN then go here and leave a comment in the comments box.

Happy reading folks.


Austin James said...

I like her advice about buying a book for someone. I just may have to do that.

I'm sorta known at Christmas time as the person who only gives books... some of my friends have even told me, you know... I don't really read books - my answer is always "well that's why I got you THIS book, you're going to love it, trust me."

There is nothing more personal than picking out a book for someone.

Michele Helene (Verilion) said...

I totally agree, although in my family I buy books all year round, so by Christmas or birthdays we are looking for a little change!

Zannah Kearns said...

Yes, friends might not be overly surprised to be given a book! Nice to have yet another excuse for doing so!

Michele Helene (Verilion) said...

I was planning on holing myself up and working on Saturday, but I guess I'm going to have to go out for a wee moment! It'll be better than writing repotrs Zanna.


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