Thursday launch set for World Book Night

<p>The organisers of World Book Night are expecting &quot;broad, high-level support across print and broadcast&quot; when details of the event are released next week. Meanwhile, Canongate m.d. Jamie Byng, the brains behind the initiative, has this week responded to criticism from independent booksellers who are concerned about a free promotion based around their evergreen bestsellers.</p><p>Several broadsheets and the BBC are expected to cover the launch next Thursday (2nd December), which will see the unveiling of the list of 25 titles selected and the appeal begin to find the army of 20,000 &quot;givers&quot; who will hand out the free books. A deadline of 4th January has been set for their recruitment. </p><p>All bar one of the 25 titles have been finalised, a mix of commercial and literary fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and young-adult crossover, from a mix of British and US authors. </p><p>More patrons have been recruited, including J K Rowling, Nigella Lawson, David Gilmour and Damien Hirst. The BA has set up a WBN working party headed by BA president Jane Streeter. The other members are Bob Jackson (Gardners), Chris Rushby (Bertrams), Julia Kingsford (Foyles), Mark Thornton (Mostly Books), Peter Donaldson (Red Lion Books) and Tim Watson (Waterstone&#39;s).</p><p>But some indies still had concerns over the event. Stephen Poulter of Books@Hoddesdon has emerged as a significant critic of the initiative, and has received backing from a group of 20-plus indies. He said he was concerned that some of the givers may choose to sell the books on eBay; that the list of 25 books would comprise some of the independent bookshops&#39; best and most profitable sellers, which would be undermined by the presence of free &shy;copies; and that the supermarkets, Amazon and the chains would discount the list ahead of 5th March.</p><p>&quot;I know it&#39;s too late to stop it,&quot; says Poulter, &quot;but the damage it could do to indies is manifest&mdash;it could push us over the edge.&quot;</p><p>But Byng said that although in theory people could sell the books, givers would be vetted through a formal application process. &quot;It seems a lot of trouble to go to get a few free books.&quot; He conceded promotions may occur&mdash;&quot;but that&#39;s the book trade in 2010 &shy;whether he likes it or not&quot;.</p>