An event that began last year in the UK and has now spread to the US, Germany, and Ireland, World Book Night is in its second year of working to distribute one million books to one million different “light or non-readers” in a single day, utilizing books bound and provided for the event by publishers and depending on volunteers to distribute them. Applicants were able to sign up to be chosen as book distributors for this April event, as well as request the title they’d like to give away from a pre-approved list of books.
Some of the limitations on the event revolve around the shipping costs of the books themselves, as many underserved readers do not have access to the technology to read digital editions and therefore rely on print materials. Volunteers had to agree to drive a great distance in order to pick up books from the distribution sites since the cost of shipping each box of twenty books to the 25,000 volunteers in the US alone were astronomical. However, as volunteers throughout the day began to distribute their books, it was worth it.
“I never had my own book before,” remarked one high school student when he received his own copy of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief from a GoodeReader.com staffer who arrived to distribute copies of the YA title. “Can I write my name in it?”
That reaction to receiving a book is exactly what event organizers are hoping for.
“It’s also about giving,” said US event director Carl Lennertz in an interview with USAToday. “There may not be anything that says, ‘I care about someone else, friend or stranger,’ more than handing them a book that you personally love and want to share.”