Reading Agency to run World Book Night

Reading Agency to run World Book Night

The World Book Night project is to be run by The Reading Agency (TRA), with WBN chief executive Julia Kingsford [pictured] stepping down.

The annual event, which sees thousands of volunteers give away copies of specially printed books, will take place for the fourth time in April 2014. It has been run by an independent charity since it launched in 2011, working with The Reading Agency and the BBC as partners. However it will now be operated entirely by TRA.

Kingsford will continue to work on World Book Night until January. TRA will recruit a new project manager to run the event, while partnerships programme manager Sandy Mahal will support relationships within the trade and Genevieve Clarke, another TRA programme manager, will support the adult literacy aspect.

Kingsford told The Bookseller: "There is a sense that we've always thought we were caretakers of the project for all of the stakeholders involved with it – the publishers, the libraries, the volunteers and everyone else. Our aim was always to engage with as many people as possible, and the best way of doing that is is to place it with an established organisation and use all of their resources to do more with it."

Publishers backed the transfer. Canongate m.d. Jamie Byng, World Book Night founder, said: "World Book Night has always been about promoting books and reading for pleasure amongst those who rarely read.  By becoming part of such a dynamic, established and similarly aligned organisation as The Reading Agency, I feel very optimistic about World Book Night's future and the ongoing impact it can make both here in the UK and around the world." Tom Weldon, c.e.o. of Penguin Random House UK, said: "World Book Night's annual people’s army supported by the year-round dedication of The Reading Agency creates a real force to be reckoned with. Together they can do great things to encourage people who don't read to share our passion for books and stories."

The Reading Agency c.e.o. Miranda McKearney said: "We all owe Julia Kingsford and World Book Night’s trustees a huge vote of thanks for creating a quite remarkable volunteer army of reading enthusiasts. The Reading Agency intends to grow that army into a pivotal force for social change, reaching and inspiring the people who right now don’t enjoy reading."

The 2014 World Book Night will see 250,000 copies of 20 titles given out by volunteers around the UK, focusing on reaching the 35.2% of the population who do not read for pleasure. In 2013, 400,000 books were given away by volunteers, with institutions such as hospitals and prisons giving away a further 100,000. However to widen participation in 2014, volunteers will also be able to sign up to give away a single book of their own choosing, which can be from their own shelves or bought to give away. Branded stickers and book plates will be available from libraries and bookshops to record that the books were part of the event. World Book Night is hoping to have 100,000 volunteers giving away books by 2017.

Kingsford said: "In previous years, we have had to turn people away from being volunteers, so this is a way of allowing more people to become involved and celebrate World Book Night in their own way."

The list of titles to be given away on the 2014 event (held on 23rd April) will be announced on 23rd November. Applications to be a giver will open on the same day.

The 2014 World Book Night has been supported with direct grants from The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Foyle Foundation.