Saturday 5th March saw nearly 20,000 “givers” hand out one million free books for the first ever World Book Night (WBN)—an event launched last October with the aim of raising the profile of books nationally.
The 20,000 givers and members of the public took take part in events, parties and celebrations across the UK and Ireland, with many libraries and bookshops extending their opening times.
One of the book’s being given away was Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, and Sarah was at the launch event at Trafalgar Square, where book lovers gatherered in their thousands to listen many of the authors on the list read aloud from their work and those of other writers.
A long list of high-profile figures from publishing, media and the arts leant their support to this ambitious initiative by becoming Patrons of World Book Night including Damon Albarn, Dave Eggers, Colin Firth, David Gilmour, Antony Gormley, Seamus Heaney, Damien Hirst, Nigella Lawson, Mary Portas, J.K. Rowling and Tilda Swinton.
World Book Night encourages givers to pass the books on to others who either may be reluctant readers or who are part of communities with less access to books, bookshops and libraries. 960,000 books will be distributed by givers and a further 40,000 will be distributed by WBN to people who might not otherwise be able to participate.