Alice Meyer is one of the Iowa organizers of World Book Night, an event that recruits book lovers as volunteers to spread the love of reading by giving away special editions of new books.
“The whole point of World Book Night is to reach out to people who are non-readers or light readers,” Meyer says. “Sometimes it just takes that one special book to motivate somebody to read. Anybody who loves to read, like the book givers do, it’s infectious, they just want to spread it around.”
Many people are programmed to be suspicious about anything that’s being given away, but Meyer says there are no strings attached with this event. Meyer says, “If you’re there with your stack of books, they’re obviously special editions of the books and folks are wearing a sticker that says they’re a book giver, eventually, a lot of people just come around and accept their free book.”
Book givers were allowed to choose from among 30 titles, like Willa Cather’s “My Antonia,” Tina Fey’s “Bossypants,” “Farenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury or “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain. This is the second year for the event in Iowa and Meyer, who owns Beaverdale Books in Des Moines, says it’s remarkable how everyone is donating to the cause.
“The authors have waived their royalties, the publishers have waived their fees, paper has been donated, printing has been donated, shipping has been donated,” Meyer says. “It’s just a wonderful effort in all of the different facets of publishing pulling together so that this night can happen.”
Last year’s World Book Night involved tens of thousands of people who passed out a half-million books and tonight’s event promises to be even larger.