World Book Night to Shut Down For Lack of Funds

Posted on July 2, 2014

Poster for 2014 World Book Night

Sad news for book lovers: World Book Night is shutting down due to lack of funds. U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz broke the bad news on Facebook that operations will have to be suspended. The annual event mobilized thousands of volunteers all over the United States to help distribute more than 1.5 million paperback books for free. There was substantial support from writers, shippers and the big publishers, but the logistics were so complex and the operations so vast that the expense became overwhelming without substantial additional funding.

In 2013, more than 27,000 volunteers gave out 500,000 books. Publishers printed special editions of the 24 books selected for 2013's giveaway and the authors all agreed to waive their royalties. It was an amazing accomplishment that boosted book sales of the books that were selected for the giveaway. And, of course, the publicity helped promote literacy and the love of books in a digital age.

World Book Night U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz discussed shutdown, saying that the staff will stay on until September 1st to shut things down, and announce the winners of the current essay contest. He noted that the project had been an overwhelming success, it was solely the last of additional funding that was the nail in the coffin for the project. There were fundraising efforts, but charitable giving is tight in the current economy and there is a great deal of competition for each charitable dollar. He said that the experience for everyone at World Book Night has been "life-changing."

Hachette Book Group CEO and WBN Chairman Michael Pietsch thanked everyone who worked so hard on the project. He said the experience had been "profound" for everyone involved. He added that, "the altruistic spirit of the givers and of industry supporters have reminded us all of the transformative impact books have on people's lives, and of the power of a book as a gift."

Photo: World Book Night