Thursday, 17 February 2011

Oh, What a Night: World Book Night


Have you ever volunteered for something because it seemed like one hell of a good idea at the time and only later considered what your commitment entailed?

Don't get me wrong, as a writer and avid reader, I still think that World Book Night is a brilliant idea. But it is also a very quirky, eccentric, unlikely and very English sort of idea. Which, come to think of it, is probably why I liked it enough to volunteer at the outset with very little – if any – forethought.

I wonder, however, if I'm alone in finding the cold logistics - if carried out strictly in accordance with the spirit of the scheme – slightly more daunting than I had at first envisaged? No problem, it shall be done as intended, but it's not simply a question of handing out a book or two to mates in the pub. Oh no.

In case you've been out of the galaxy for a few months and haven't heard of the inaugural World Book Night (WBN), the big idea is that 1,000,000 – yes one million – free donated books will be distributed by a team of 20,000 volunteers, on, or close to March 5, 2011. We're not talking second hand rejects here. These are new, specially printed, editions of 25 best-selling books (for details of the titles click on the WBN logo or on the link in paragraph two above).

The core purpose of the project is to place each donated book into the hands of someone who might not otherwise read that book, or, indeed, any book. Ideally WBN would introduce a million people – perhaps more if the initial recipients read and pass their books to others – to the joys of reading.

So, in early March I shall be collecting 48 copies of my chosen title, the excellent Agent ZigZag, by Ben Macintyre, from a local bookshop. By then I hope to have knitted together a trusted local network of connections through which to fulfil my joyful obligation. Who knows, I may come knocking on your door.

As always, you're welcome to help yourselves to virtual tea and biccies while you're here, but please do turn the light out as you leave. No expenses for this contract.

Wish me luck.