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World Book Night U.S. is coming to an end, says organization

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Luke Macgregor/Reuters

(Read caption) A volunteer distributes titles during World Book Night in London.

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The organizers behind World Book Night U.S. are reportedly ending the event.

As is the case elsewhere around the world, in the US, on World Book Night (April 23), volunteers hand out books (titles pre-selected by the organization) to passersby for free. World Book Night was first celebrated in the UK and Ireland in 2011. World Book Night U.S. joined in for the first time in 2012, along with Germany.

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According to executive director Carl Lennertz, World Book Night U.S. had hoped to raise money to keep the event going through grants. 

“But there are a lot of other worthy causes out there and only so much money available,” he said, according to industry newsletter Shelf Awareness.

World Book Night U.S. staff are reportedly continuing to work without payment through Sept. 1 to finish the essay contest for those that gave out books this year and give out the names of the winners as well as keep in touch with givers through social media. 

“This has been a remarkable, passionate undertaking, and it has been a success by all measures, except for one: outside funding,” Lennertz said, as quoted in booksellers industry newsletter Shelf Awareness. “For three years, the publishing industry and book community have very generously footed the bill and contributed enormous time and effort, and my gratitude for all of that is immeasurable. For us here at World Book Night, this experience has been life-changing, as it has been for the givers and recipients of the books.”

The 2014 celebration of World Book Night in the UK had also encountered funding problems and this past April, some changes were made to the program, which was taken over by the charity the Reading Agency. These new initiatives included letting volunteers distribute books they had previously owned and allowing organizations to hand out more titles than the usual cap of 20 books per giver.


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