'Need for stories' as World Book Night celebrates

World Book Night founder Jamie Byng spoke about the "need" for stories as the 2012 event was celebrated last night (23rd April) at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank, and marked across the country with events and retailer promotions.

The 20,000 book-givers in the UK and Ireland were joined by 25,000 in the US and 33,333 givers at the Germany event.

Writer and presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli compered the South Bank event, for which 900 tickets were sold, and which was streamed to libraries across the country, including in Birmingham, Newcastle and Bristol. Authors including Mark Billingham, David Nicholls (pictured, with Frances Osborne), Iain Banks, Andrea Levy and Meg Rosoff, and actors including Owen Teale and Colin Salmon, read from favourite books and their own work, with Mark Haddon giving the first reading from his new novel, The Red House, out in May. Singh Kohli praised publishers as "the way these books arrive from the imagination of writers and travel into the
hands of readers".

In his speech following the readings, Byng praised World Book Night c.e.o. Julia Kingsford, and said: "We do actually need stories. The connection between one person and the other is best articulated through a story. We're here to celebrate books and reading . . . May there be many, many more to come." Earlier Byng had visited Wormwood Scrubs prison, distributing books to inmates.

Retailers marked the day with more than 30 Waterstones stores holding events, including Waterstones Deansgate hosting author readings, Waterstones Derby running a World Book Night quiz to win Waterstones vouchers, and the Guildford branch holding a sunset book walk through the town. Meanwhile, waterstones.com is offering discounts on the 25 WBN titles, with Blackwell.co.uk also offering 20% off the WBN titles in its "Recommended
Reading" section.

Further events included a double-decker bus travelling around libraries in central and south-west London, through Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham council areas, giving out free novels with author Sophie Kinsella on board.