World Book and Copyright Day

World Book and Copyright Day
World Book Day (UK and Ireland) 2008 logo

World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) is a yearly event on 23 April, organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. The Day was first celebrated in 1995.

The connection between 23 April and books was first made in 1923 by booksellers in Spain as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes who died on that day.

In 1995, UNESCO decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on this date because of the Catalonian festival and because the date is also the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare, the death of Miguel de Cervantes, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Josep Pla, and the birth of Maurice Druon, Vladimir Nabokov, Manuel Mejía Vallejo and Halldór Laxness.

Although 23 April is often stated as the anniversary of the deaths of both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, this is not strictly correct. Cervantes died on 23 April according the Gregorian calendar; however, at this time England still used the Julian calendar. Whilst Shakespeare died on 23 April by the Julian calendar in use in his own country at the time, he actually died ten days after Cervantes because of the discrepancy between the two date systems. The apparent correspondence of the two dates was a fortunate coincidence for UNESCO.


World Book Day by country


In Catalonia, since 1436, St. George's Day has been 'The Day of the Rose', where the exchange of gifts between sweethears, loved ones and respected ones is effectuated. It would be the analogous to Valentine's Day. Although the World Book and Copyright Day has been celebrating since 1995 internationally, the first time that books where also exchanged in 'The Day of the Rose' in Catalonia, was in 1926; also to commemorate the death of Cervantes and Shakespeare.


To celebrate this day Cervantes' Don Quixote is read during a two-day "readathon" and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize is presented by the King in Alcalá de Henares.


In Sweden, the day is known as Världsbokdagen (world book day), and the copyright part is seldom mentioned. Normally celebrated on April 23, it was moved to avoid a clash with Easter to April 13 in the year 2000[1] and 2011.[2]

UK and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, World Book Day is held annually on the first Thursday in March. Although it might be argued that this makes it more a "UK and Ireland Book Day" than a World Book Day as such, it was decided to avoid the established international 23 April date due to clashes with Easter school holidays, as well as the fact that it is also their National Saint's Day, St George's Day. In 2011 it was held on Thursday 3 March.[3]

World Book Day UK began in 1998, launched by Prime Minister Tony Blair[4] at The Globe Theatre in London. Several million schoolchildren in Great Britain were given a £1 special World Book Day Book Token (1.50 in Ireland) which could be redeemed against any book in any UK bookseller. A specially created WBD anthology priced at £1 (€1.50 in Ireland) was also published. All World Book Day point of sale and the £1 book carried the special World Book Day logo to help unify the initiative through all outlets.

Since then, World Book Day UK has followed a similar pattern, gradually growing each year to encompass more initiatives, such as Spread The Word, Quick Reads Initiative and Books for Hospitals. Every year, the number of children receiving a free £1 World Book Day Book Token has increased.

In 2000, instead of a single £1 special anthology, four separate £1 books were published, covering a wider age-range. Since then, each year has seen a new set of special £1 books published.

In 2006, World Book Day began its support of and association with the Quick Reads[5] initiative for adult emergent readers.

In 2007, World Book Day celebrated its 10th anniversary with the publication of 10 £1 books.

In September 2007, World Book Day announced the revamp of the Spread the Word promotion for 2008 into an on-line book group featuring a number of adult books which would be suitable to book Groups. A short list of 10 titles was announced on 1 February 2008, and the winning book, Boy A by Jonathan Trigell (published by Serpent's Tail) was revealed on World Book Day 2008, 6 March 2008.[6] World Book Day 2008 was declared by The Bookseller magazine to be more successful than any previous World Book Day.[7]

World Book Day is a registered charity.[8] It does not raise funds for itself but does support Book Aid International[9] and Readathon as its nominated charities, encouraging schools to hold special fundraising events for children less fortunate than themselves. World Book Day is not funded by the British Government although the Quick Reads element does receive support from ACE, DIUS and NIACE. The funding for World Book Day activities comes principally from the major sponsor, National Book Tokens[10] and the UK book trade (publishers and booksellers).

See also


External links

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