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Literary Speed Dating, Bookish Flashmobs? April 23rd is World Book and Copyright Day!

Edward Nawotka By Edward Nawotka Published on April 20, 2016

By Edward Nawotka

This Saturday, April 23rd is World Book and Copyright Day, the annual celebration of reading sponsored by UNESCO, and in partnership with the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. It is hosted annually on the anniversary of the probable birth and death of William Shakespeare — with this year being the 400th anniversary of his death. Hundreds of events will be hosted around the world, from Cape Town, South Africa to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Beijing, China. Some of the events planned include book fairs, bookish flash mobs, spontaneous readings, and even speed dating for book lovers. Venues can range from bookstores and libraries to nightclubs and office buildings, even boats and camper vans.

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, said in advance of the occasion: “A book is a link between the past and the future. It is a bridge between generations and across cultures. It is a force for creating and sharing wisdom and knowledge…A window onto our inner lives, books are also the doorway to mutual respect and understanding between people, across all boundaries and differences. In turbulent times, books embody the human capacity to conjure up worlds of reality and imagination and express them in voices of understanding, dialogue and tolerance. They are symbols of hope and dialogue that we must cherish and defend. This has never been so important at a time when culture is under attack, when freedom of expression is threatened, when diversity is challenged by rising intolerance.”

What’s more, an international photo contest will begin, with the hashtag #WordsofTolerance — to promote international peace and prosperity — while an Apple iBooks edition of the Collins Atlas will be made available to download for free.

One center of action will be Wroclaw, Poland, which is serving as the 2016 World Book Capital. Poland has been much in the spotlight this year in the world of books and will serve as the Market Focus of the upcoming BookExpo America, the primary publishing trade event in North America and as Country Focus of the 2016 London Book Fair.

American journalist, editor, traveler, and believer in the power of books to change the world.