Twenty-nine volunteers in Anacortes are handing out more than 500 free books this week as part of World Book Night.
Volunteers in 6,000 communities across the U.S. participated, handing out 500,000 books. Germany and the U.K. also participated.
The idea is to put popular and meaningful books into the hands of readers who may never set foot in a book store, and to do it in a personal way, according to Anna Quindlen, the U.S. campaign’s honorary national chairperson.
April 23 is International Day of the Book, in honor of Shakespeare and Cervantes, who died on that date in 1616.
The 30 titles were chosen based on popularity, but also with an eye for a mix of fiction, nonfiction and young adult titles. Author gender, ethnicity and geography were also considered.
Barbara Hoenselaar at Watermark Book Company in Anacortes said the distribution was possible because authors gave up the royalties to the special-edition copies, and publishers paid to print them.
Hoenselaar organized the local campaign, gathering volunteers and distributing boxes of books.
Sharene Elander took 20 copies of Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” to the Boys and Girls Club in Anacortes.
She chose Alexie’s title because of her own interest in the author and his connection to the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s just a great book,” she said, “a real coming of age story.”
Elander said she saw a poster at Watermark advertising World Book Night two months ago, and she signed up.
“I thought it was just a very exciting idea,” she said.
Treva King handed out copies of “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss.
She said she originally wanted to go to schools, but the book turned out to be aimed at an adult audience, so she decided to look for reluctant readers at the ferry terminals and medical clinic waiting rooms.
She and other volunteers collected their copies of the books from Watermark on April 18. They signed pledges that they would not hand out the book before Monday night (and that they wouldn’t save the books to give as personal Christmas presents).
Other locations where Anacortes volunteers handed out books included schools and the Anacortes Family Center.
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