Alert! Today is World Book and Copyright Day, “a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died”, according to the day’s homepage at UNESCO. (Curiously, UNESCO doesn’t mention BOOK SA’s birthday… must write to them about that.)
This is true-ish. As we’ve reported before, the English didn’t adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752 – well after Shakespeare’s death – and so the April 23 that he died on is different from our, or indeed Cervantes’, April 23, making the coincidence something of an anniversary of convenience.
The day has been associated with books since at least 1923, when booksellers in Catalonia, Spain, began a tradition of giving away a rose with each book sold to honour the author of Don Quixote.
South Africa’s World Book Day campaign has been rather muted this year: usually, the National Library of South Africa and Centre for the Book celebrate the day with some fanfare, which is preceded by a poster drive encouraging youngsters to read, but this year official World Book Day activities will only happen on 13 May, according to a Centre for the Book spokesperson. If BOOK SA can be late with its World Book Day fun and games, so can the NLSA, I suppose!
Click here for more information related to the day. BOOK SA encourages all readers get out there and buy a book today – if not for yourself, then for someone close, who will doubtless reciprocate with a big post-literate emoticon on your Facebook profile. :)
Update – this press release on a book donation drive just in from Van Schaik Books
South Africa’s largest academic bookseller Van Schaik and community organization, CAFDA (Cape Flats Development Association), are calling on all Capetonians who love reading, to celebrate World Book Day by donating their unused books to underprivileged learners. The clarion call for books forms part of a mammoth second-hand book drive and online fundraiser, Van Schaik is embarking on to help CAFDA’s educational assistance programmes, starting on World Book Day, 23 April 2009.
Van Schaik has chosen CAFDA as the main beneficiary of its corporate social investment programme this year. “CAFDA is a well-run NGO that provides invaluable social and educational services to communities besieged by socio- economic challenges,” comments van Schaik marketing manager, Margaret Vyver.
“Joining up with CAFDA will help Van Schaik reach the communities they are aiming to make a difference in, by offering them a broad range of educational material.”
Van Schaik hopes to make a visible difference within schools by nurturing a love of books in the youth. “We are committed to supporting the educational needs of disadvantaged learners in South Africa, and CAFDA provides an excellent platform for us to help learners who are limited by their circumstances,” says Vyver.
Capetonians are asked to contribute to this worthwhile cause by dropping off all their unwanted textbooks, novels, reference and children’s books in clearly marked DUMPBINS in any Van Schaik store in Cape Town, until the end of May.
Van Schaik will also donate a large number of new books to CAFDA as part of the book-drive. All donated books will go to CAFDA fundraising bookshops, under-resourced schools and to individual learners in need. Visit: www.vanschaik.com and www.cafda.org.za for more information.
Photo courtesy Odegaard Library