Julia Kingsford, chief executive of World Book Night, reported that the promotion was carried out more "smoothly" than ever yesterday (23rd April), with 500,000 free books given out around the country.
At the after-show party held at the London Southbank Foyles, Kingsford went out of her way to praise the distribution of the book parcels, performed by Yodel, saying that it was carried out with greater ease than in the previous two years the event has run, with only "a tiny handful" of snags in the system. She said: "It has never run this smoothly before. Getting out so many packages of books to thousands of locations across the country is not easy, but Yodel have done a great job. There have only been a tiny handful of places where delivery has been an issue, which is very impressive. We have had the most fantastic feedback from around the country."
Books were given out by 20,000 givers, all of whom had volunteered to take part, giving 20 copies of one of 20 titles to people who would not usually read. Givers collected the titles from bookshops and libraries, with 400,000 being distributed in this way. A further 100,000 were given out via institutions, and were passed out in prisons, hospitals, care homes and food banks.
Events were held in Liverpool, London and Edinburgh to mark the event, which coincides with UNESCO's International Day of the Book. In London, authors gathered at the Southbank Centre to perform readings from their work. Author Tracy Chevalier, whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring was one of titles being handed out yesterday, was also a designated giver, handing out 20 copies of Rose Tremain's The Road Home.
Chevalier said: "I've given out books for three years now, and it's always a pleasure to be able to pass a book on to someone you think will enjoy it. I ended up having conversations with people who I don't usually get to speak to in restaurants and cafes—I even gave one to a traffic warden. Some people can be suspicious at first, so you have to engage and overcome that."
World Book Night, supported by the Reading Agency, also runs in the USA.