World Book Night seeking volunteers

Jan. 09, 2013 @ 05:58 PM

If you are out and about the night of April 23 and someone comes up and gives you a copy of Tina Fey’s book “Bossypants,” Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451,” or Sandra Cisneros’ novel “The House on Mango Street,” do not be alarmed.

It’s not a scam: You probably are being approached by a volunteer for World Book Night, the annual event when book stores and libraries give out free books.

European countries have celebrated the event for a decade or more, but this year will mark the second observance in the United States. The Regulator Bookshop on Ninth Street was among the participants last year, and is seeking volunteers for this year’s giveaway.

Other local bookstores that plan to participate are Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill and area Barnes & Noble stores. World Book Night is asking volunteers to apply by Jan. 23 to participate.

About 50 people participated in last year’s giveaway, said Tom Campbell, co-owner of The Regulator. Participants gave away books in bars, buses, schools and other places. Campbell said he gave away books to people in restaurants and stores in the Ninth Street area. “It’s certainly fun to give something to somebody completely out of the blue.  That was a lot of fun,” he said.

World Book Night is a non-profit organization of publishers, book sellers, librarians, authors and other people interested in reading. For World Book Night, publishers agree to pay the costs of printing special paperback editions of books, and authors waive their royalty fees for the copies, which are not for sale or re-sale.

Volunteers hand out the books April 23, the birthday of William Shakespeare and the date of UNESCO’s International Day of the Book. The date also honors the day Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes died in 1616.

One important goal of the event, Campbell said, is to target people who might not ordinarily be readers and to get them more interested in reading. The event focuses on books for adults, with some titles for teens and middle readers (or students in late elementary and early middle school grades), according to World Book Night’s website.

Volunteers can fill out a form at Each volunteer is asked to pick a favorite book from 32 titles the organization has chosen. Each volunteer will get 20 copies of the book to hand out.

Other titles on this year’s list are Nora Roberts’ “Montana Sky,” David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” Jesmyn Ward’s “Salvage the Bones,” and John Grisham’s “Playing for Pizza.”

Campbell said he most likely will pick “The Tender Bar” as his favorite book from the list. The book is J. R. Moehringer’s memoir of the role a bar played in his coming of age. Campbell called the memoir “a beautiful, wonderful story, and a good book to give away in a bar.”

To volunteer for World Book Night, visit