World Book Night now accepting ‘givers’

Sign up for free books, and then give them to strangers

By: Andy Kozlowski | C&G Newspapers | Published November 6, 2013

METRO DETROIT — When Alyssa Bottrell and her husband went out to eat in Lake Orion this past April, they didn’t expect a stranger to come up to them and give them a brand new book.

But that’s what happened. The couple from Madison Heights left the restaurant with a copy of Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” and on the back cover was information about something they had never heard of before: World Book Night.

“She (the stranger) just gave my husband this book, saying, ‘Would you be interested in reading this?’ It’s a book we never would’ve checked out ourselves, but this person chose to give it to us, and we ended up liking the book. I had to warm up to it first, but when I got to the end, I was like, ‘That was a good book!’ I really liked the ending; I was impressed how it came together. It was very clever.”

The Bottrells weren’t the only people surprised with a good read that day.  Now in its third year, World
Book Night is an international event held on April 23, coinciding with the International Day of the Book, and the deaths of William Shakespeare and Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes.

Various authors, publishers and corporate sponsors donate books to World Book Night, and the nonprofit, in turn, supplies them to “givers,” who agree to distribute the books to complete strangers.

Those applying to be givers peruse a list of the 35 titles: a mix of old and new, fiction and nonfiction. They submit their top three choices, and then World Book Night will provide them with 20 copies of one of the requested titles.

These copies are specially printed, with unique back covers containing information about World Book Night. World Book Night works with libraries and bookstores that sign up to act as the distribution point where the givers go to pick up their copies.

And it’s all free — both for the giver and the recipient.

“My friends and I have participated in Random Acts of Kindness Week before, and this is like combining that concept with the gift of books,” Bottrell said. “I just think it’s a fabulous idea. Absolutely brilliant!”

Ideally, the books will reach people who are light readers, non-readers or readers who normally wouldn’t think to check out the book. The goal is to grow lifelong readers, restore lapsed readers and broaden readers’ horizons in literature.

Givers can be anyone ages 16 and older. Applications to be a giver for World Book Night 2014 are now being accepted until Jan. 5 at the World Book Night website. Libraries can also apply to be distribution points from now until Jan. 2.

The Hazel Park Memorial Library participated in World Book Night this past April. Reference librarian Elizabeth Colombo helped plan it. Library director Corrine Stocker said they would love to participate again.

“I’m looking at the list for this year, and there are some great books on it, including some we’ve used in the past for our book club since they’re great books for discussion,” Stocker said. “For example, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ and ‘Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,’ which I thought was an excellent book.

“It was a no-brainer, really, an ideal free program,” Stocker said of World Book Night. “People came and got their books, and then we had a book club where people who read the books could come back and discuss them, if they wished to do so. Everyone benefitted, getting a wonderful, free, brand new book, and they got to share the experience of reading it with other people. I think it really fosters a sense of community.”

For more information about World Book Night, including how to sign up as a giver, visit