The Duchess of Cornwall, Stephen Fry and actor William Rycroft are among those gearing up to hand out World Book Night titles this evening (23rd April) as the second year of the event set up to promote reading takes place.
This year's event marks the first international World Book Night event, with Germany, the USA and Ireland joining the mix in its second year, with 78,000 people in all giving away 2.5m free books.
The Duchess of Cornwall is giving A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens to her chosen charities, Fry an adaptation of an Ian Rankin novel in Edinburgh and Rycroft is handing out The Road by Cormac McCarthy to New London Theatre audience members of "War Horse".
Politicians also adding their names to the givers’ lists include culture, communications and creative industries MP Ed Vaizey, who is giving out The Damned United by David Peace, and MP Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for culture, Olympics, media and sport, who is giving out Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson.
Jamie Byng, founder of World Book Night, said: "We always hoped that World Book Night would become a global initiative that truly lived up to its name. We have been overwhelmed by the support from our international partners; the number of givers signed up and the sheer volume of books being given away across the Germany, the USA, the UK and Ireland is truly astounding and the prospect of so many great books being read and shared all over the world on April 23rd is very exciting."
Today is Shakespeare’s birthday and the evening event to mark World Book Night at the South Bank Centre in London will involve book extract readings by Mark Billingham, Meg Rosoff, Iain M Banks, Andrea Levy, Martina Cole, Mark Haddon, David Nicholls, Jon Ronson, Elif Shafak, Geoff Dyer and Lemn Sissay with a video message from Margaret Atwood and live stream appearances from World Book Night author Neil Gaiman in America and from World Book Night in Hamburg. The evening will culminate in candlelit readings of Shakespeare's sonnets to "say happy birthday to our greatest writer".
Also, this morning, author Kathy Lette will be giving out copies of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice to politicians at the Houses of Parliament.
A World Book Night spokesperson said: "Hundreds of additional satellite events will be taking place around the UK, in bookshops, libraries, theatres, arts centres and public spaces, with guest appearances from Maggie O’Farrell, Adele Parks, Patrick Gale, Marina Lewycka, and more."