Givers across the country are gearing up to take part in this evening's World Book Night, which will see half a million books handed out to people who do not usually read.
Twenty thousand people are signed up to distribute 20 copies of their selected title. Yodel has distributed the 400,000 books, which include Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring, and WBN's first graphic novel, Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges, with givers set to collect them from libraries and bookshops around the country.
Debbie James, owner of The Bookshop Kibworth in Leicestershire, said all givers’ book boxes had arrived safely and she was “excited” about attending two events tonight. “There is an event at the local library with Alison Moore, we will be selling her book and also her new one (Pre-War House and other Stories) which isn’t even published yet, courtesy of her publisher Salt; and I will also be going along to a pub after that where around six or seven givers will be handing out books to people," she said. "I think World Book Night is great, it really gets people inspired to run events around reading and it celebrates the physical book as a form of beauty as well as its contents.” James will also personally be handing out Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair.
Lewisham Library is also among the 2,000 libraries which will be holding events to mark the third annual WBN, and will be hosting an after-hours party with the theme of "You should read...". Writers Blake Morrison, Sarah Mussi, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Lydia Syson and Sandra Agard will talk about the books that they love, while each guest in encouraged to bring along a book they have enjoyed to swap with someone else. Ian Claridge, manager at The Forest Bookshop in Gloucestershire, said his bookshop was also holding a joint event with a local library, although he added he was "still a bit dubious" about whether WBN attracted new customers.
A further 100,000 books have been sent to hospitals, prisons, care homes, and other places where many people do not frequently read.
Events are being held in Liverpool, London and Edinburgh, with dozens of writers giving readings and participating in activities.
Meanwhile Penguin is backing World Book Night with a social media campaign, giving Twitter users following @PenguinUKBooks the chance to win a bundle of titles every hour on the hour from 4pm-midnight tonight.
WBN chief executive Julia Kingsford said: "From the smallest communities in the Highlands to those in our largest metropolitan centres, World Book Night has an incredible power to unite people from across society. It is amazing to see the passion of the people who come together to share in World Book Night and spread their love of reading."
Today (23rd April) is UNESCO's International Day of the Book.