In a heartfelt and obviously saddened letter today, the organizers behind World Book Night announced that they would no longer be able to continue the US program, despite its three year history of distributing great reads to reluctant readers through volunteers across North America. The program, which was was supported by publishers, authors, booksellers, and individual donors, placed one million books each year with readers who may not have otherwise had access.
In the letter to former book givers, the organizers cited the lack of funding as the reason for having to end the program, despite the generous support of the publishers who made the titles available and Ingram, who printed the specially branded books.
World Book Night U.S. Board Chairman Michael Pietsch stated in the letter, “World Book Night’s first three years have been a profound experience for everyone involved. The altruistic spirit of the givers and of industry supporters have reminded us all of the transformative impact books have on people’s lives, and of the power of a book as a gift. The World Book Night Board joins me in extending their deep gratitude to all who have taken part.”
WBN U.S. Exec Director Carl Lennertz added, “Some of you know our names here, but I want to be sure you know these–Laura Peraza and Carolyn Schwartz. They have been here since day one, and they, along with you, are my heroes. Alia Almeida joined us this year and was a creative force. A list of all the booksellers, librarians, authors, and folks in publishing and at Ingram would be too long to include here, but they know who they are and I know they have loved being a part of this beautiful thing we did together.”
WBN has been at the heart of putting great titles, many of them challenged or banned books or books that were written by authors whose titles have come under fire, into the hands of readers. This past staging of WBN saw a grassroots movement spring up after one of the previous years’ titles, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, was banned in one US school system; a student and a few concerned citizens organized the funds and donations to distribute the book to all of the students who signed a petition to reinstate the title.