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World Book Night U.S. to Suspend Operations

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The American Booksellers Association (A.B.A.) announced on Tuesday July 1, 2014 “After three years in which thousands of volunteer givers distributed more than a million and half specially printed paperbacks, World Book Night U.S. has announced that it is suspending operations. The expenses of running World Book Night U.S. — even with significant financial support and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, and shippers — are too high to sustain without additional outside funding, the organization said in a release issued today.”

World Book Night (W.B.N.) was first celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2011. The U.S. and Germany joined in 2012. World Book Night U.S. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and a registered trademark of World Book Night Global.

In the U.S.A., U.P.S. is the sponsor of W.B.N. The A.B.A. is one of thirteen Gold Sponsors and Partners, the others being Barnes & Noble, Inc.; the American Library Association; BE Printers; Domtar Paper; RR Donnelley; the Hachette Book Group; HarperCollins Publishers; Ingram Content Group; Ingram Publisher Services; Macmillan Books; Penguin Random House; and Simon & Schuster Publishers.

“This has been a remarkable, passionate undertaking, and it has been a success by all measures, except for one: outside funding,” said World Book Night U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz. “For three years, the publishing industry and book community have very generously footed the bill and contributed enormous time and effort, and my gratitude for all of that is immeasurable. For us here at World Book Night, this experience has been life-changing, as it has been for the givers and recipients of the books.

Lennertz added, “Given our continued, concerted efforts, we had hoped to have more success with grant requests. But there are a lot of other worthy causes out there and only so much money available. Unfortunately, we can’t carry on without significant new outside funding.”

World Book Night U.S. Board Chairman and Hachette Book Group C.E.O. Michael Pietsch stated, “World Book Night’s first three years have been a profound experience for everyone involved. 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. The World Book Night board joins me in extending their deep gratitude to all who have taken part, and to Carl Lennertz for his inspiring leadership.”

The A.B.A. stated, “Hundreds of independent booksellers across the U.S. have enthusiastically embraced World Book Night over the past three years: promoting the initiative in their communities, serving as book pick-up locations, hosting giver parties, working with local charities and community members to distribute books, and in a whole host of other ways.”

A.B.A. C.E.O. Oren Teicher, a member of the World Book Night U.S. board, said, “ABA is pleased to have been a part of World Book Night in its three-year run here in the U.S. While we are disappointed with the decision to not keep it going, we are proud to have been part of an effort that put books in the hands of so many people, and we look forward to other cross-industry initiatives that bring publishers, authors, librarians, distributors — and booksellers — together to spread the joy of reading.”

“American publishers had supported World Book Night by printing special copies of the two dozen giveaway books. Authors waived their royalties. Yet that was not enough to keep World Book Night U.S. in business,” explained Carolyn Kellogg on the Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy book blog.

Publishers Weekly reported, “This past April, WBN volunteers gave away about 500,000 copies of books and, although the program generated a good bit of local media attention, its impact on book sales was difficult to quantify.”

W.B.N. staff will be staying available without pay through Monday, September 1, 2014 to maintain social media contact with givers and to announce the winners of this year’s giver essay contest.

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