x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

World Book Night

World Book Night will be celebrating a new chapter next year after signing up the US as its first international partner.

World Book Night will be celebrating a new chapter next year after signing up the US as its first international partner.

Billed as "the biggest book giveaway ever", the initiative was organised by a panel of British book publishers after the idea was hatched at an industry conference last year.

At the inaugural event on April 5 in London's Trafalgar Square, one million books were distributed to the general public and to readers in hospitals and prisons. There were 20,000 people on hand to distribute 40,000 copies of 25 different titles, including Toni Morrison's Beloved and Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Now with a similar scheme to be set up across the Atlantic, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper, a further one million books will be distributed stateside on April 23 next year. As well as being Unesco's International Day of the Book, the date is recognised as William Shakespeare's birthday and also the day he died. The event's chief executive, Julia Kingsford, said the American assistance would help the event live up to its name.

"I'm thrilled to welcome the USA as the first international partner, for what we very much hope will become a global celebration of books and reading," she said.

The event last April also included public readings by literary luminaries such as Margaret Atwood, John le Carré and Philip Pullman. Readers can register on the World Book Night website to vote for the top 10 books to give away next year. Presently, the most popular choices include classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice and The Lord of the Rings.