YPG’s World Book Night Celebration: A Night to Remember

Cincopa video hosting solution for your website. Another great product from Cincopa Send Files.

We had signed up months before, eagerly anticipating the first World Book Night (WBN) the United States had ever seen. We had picked up our carefully chosen WBN books weeks before. Finally, on the evening of April 23, 2012, we, the YPG World Book Night givers, each left work with our coveted box of books and made our way to Bryant Park, brimming with excitement.

World Book Night is a philanthropic enterprise whose slogan, and overall goal, is “spreading the love of reading, person to person.” One night a year, on UNESCO’s International Day of the Book (chosen in honor of the death days of Shakespeare and Cervantes), volunteers distribute free books to others (preferably nonreaders or light readers) in order to celebrate reading and spread their enthusiasm and love for books across the world. WBN was launched in the UK in 2011, and this year it expanded to the U.S. with tremendous success. There were roughly 25,000 volunteers in the U.S., with givers in each of the fifty states. Givers distributed books in coffee shops, bookstores, bars, parks, community centers, retirement homes, and one surfer even planned to distribute books while sporting about on the California beach.

YPG decided to distribute books as a group in a place guaranteed to have many passersby: the steps in front of the 42nd Street New York Public Library near Bryant Park. Though a cloudy sky threatened rain, YPG Cares volunteers from 12 AAP member publishing houses and a handful of literary agencies forged ahead, hoping the threat wouldn’t limit the number of people out and about. Before spreading out, each giver donned a nametag and WBN pins. One giver wore a sandwich board that said, “Hate reading? Talk to me! World Book Night.” Our enthusiasm was infectious, and we talked about strategies for giving and about the books we had chosen, which included The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Once all the participating YPG members had arrived, the givers scattered. Some patrolled the sidewalk in front of the library, asking passersby, “Want a free book?” Some went around the back of the building into the park and approached people sitting on benches. Others branched out down side streets, looking for people. If a passerby slowed and seemed interested, a more detailed conversation began, with the giver describing the book and the mission of WBN while the listener asked questions. A few buses stopped near the library steps and were cause for particular joy, because they signified new people who might be interested in our books.

Some passersby treated givers as if they were no more than annoying flyer-givers and wouldn’t listen to a word out of our mouths (thankfully, there weren’t too many like this!). On the other hand, one passerby was so excited about the idea of free books that he traveled to several different givers, trying to obtain a copy of each book (oblivious to the idea that we were attempting to give to light readers!). One tourist family was so entranced by the description of Ender’s Game and the idea of WBN that they each wanted a copy.

Afterward, all the YPG givers gathered together again at O’Casey’s to share their stories, eat, and drink. As we laughed, relaxed, and discussed how much fun we’d had, the overall feeling was clear: World Book Night had truly been a night to remember.

For more information about the books given out at WBN 2012, about the WBN organization, or about next year’s WBN, you can visit http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/.

Post to Twitter

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.