THE NAME of the event is a bit misleading but the bottom line remains true - you can get something for nothing. In this case, what people are receiving for free are books, lots of books, new books, popular books, and they are being given away throughout cities today.
The giveaway here in the United States continues a freebie effort that spread through several other countries Sunday night. It's called World Book Night and is marked by thousands of volunteeers giving away new books to whoever might want one.
Last night (Sunday p.m.)/Monday a.m.), those volunteers gave away novels in Britain, Ireland and Germany. Today volunteers are doing the same in an estimated 5,800 U.S. cities. In Britain an estimated million books were given away. The goal here in the United States is for 25,000 volunteers to give away 500,000 books.
A committee of librarians, booksellers and publishers picked 30 titles that would be given away (See a list of titles here). Volunteers are then allowed to choose any of the books off of the list to distribute. Books include "The Hunger Games," "The Stand" and "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," among many others.
Volunteers also can decide where to give the book away. Here in Missoula, dozens of volunteers will take their stack of free books to local schools, the bus transfer station, children's shelters and other locations. Locally, the most popular book to give away was Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."
Each volunteer is given 20 paperback copies of the book of their choice to give to others. Those volunteers then fan out to wherever they want to distribute their books. The event is modeled after a program that began in Britain last year.
All of the books being given away are old fashioned, paper books. E-books are not included in the giveaway - at least not this time. This year Amazon, the largest distributor of e-books, is not participating in the program but has expressed interest in becoming involved next year.
While most everyone involved in the effort is excited about it, the giveaway has received some blowback from book sellers who worry the giveaway may hurt retail sales.