Retailers finalise World Book Night plans

Final preparations are underway for a medley of events planned to celebrate World Book Night, with independent and national retailers planning to host author readings, quizzes and book swaps.

On 5th March, 20,000 participants will give away one million books, from 25 selected titles, to members of the public in order to encourage people to read more adult literature.

The BBC will be going live to various events around the country and broadcasting three “Culture Show” specials, with the first programme “A Million Books for Free”, being broadcast at 7.30 p.m.

Waterstone’s stores will hold late openings, with Piccadilly, London, hosting the World Book Night Big Quiz with author David Nicholls, in association with the Grazia Book Club. Waterstone’s in Loughborough will hold a Book Swap Shop and the Deansgate Manchester store will welcome guests to an open mic night with poetry, music and reading, in conjunction with Manchester libraries. In Aberdeen, author Stuart McBride will serve customers and talk to participants.

Waterstone’s spokesman Jon Howells said: “Stores have jumped on this chance to demonstrate their love of great books, and to make an offer to readers that cannot be refused—a brilliant bestseller for free. Shops will be joining in with author events, quizzes, reading groups, and partnering with libraries. It’s a unique, innovative and interactive idea that will get people reading everywhere.”

W H Smith has display units promoting the 25 WBN titles in store and Amazon.co.uk is also featuring the titles under a special heading on its site.

Foyles has plans in place along with other independent retailers, some of which are acting as collection points for book-givers to pick up their books. Boxes of books are currently being sent out, and some indies were originally concerned about the large number they were told to expect to receive.

Jonathan Main, owner of The Bookseller Crow on The Hill in Crystal Palace, south London, was sent a letter being told he would receive 28 boxes, which he would struggle to fit in his shop. Vanessa Robertson from the Edinburgh Bookshop was also “overwhelmed” when she was told to expect 38 boxes of books. However, after consultation with the Booksellers Association, both now hope to receive fewer boxes.

Main said shops received an email from the Booksellers Association on Christmas Eve, explaining his shop would be a collection point, but could opt out within a few days’ time. “It was our busiest time of year so I didn’t have time to read it,” he said.

Tim Godfray, chief executive of the BA, said timescales would be improved on in the future. “In this inaugural year World Book Night has come together on a very tight schedule. That it has come together and promises to be such a success is a credit to the co-operation and support it has received across the industry,” he said.

A new WBN website launched today, featuring an events calendar with details of happenings nationwide, including literary speed dating and mass reading groups at the Southbank Centre in central London, in association with Foyles, and a debate on which books to save from a burning library at Plymouth Central Library.

The website, created by Redbox Digital, will provide a platform to share opinions on each of the books through comments, reviews, events, images and video. 

On 4th March, a party will take place in Trafalgar Square, London, with 2,500 pairs of tickets set aside for givers, to be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Margaret Atwood, Alan Bennett and John le Carré will be among the authors headlining the event.