World Book Day and Copyright Day

An annual event to promote Reading, Publishing and Copyright

Copyright is not an obstacle. It’s something you need to understand how to navigate, and we want to make that as easy and as transparent as possible.
Tracey Armstrong
CEO, Copyright Clearance Centre

World Book and Copyright Day is a day entirely dedicated to celebrating the contribution of authors and their books towards the global culture and the association between books and copyright. Since 1995, the 23rd of April has been a day to celebrate content creators and the laws that protect their works. Each year on April 23, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the rest of the world celebrate World Book and Copyright Day to address the problems of plagiarism and copyrights in a serious manner. It is a significant day for international book publishing because it is a worldwide celebration to promote the reading and enjoyment of books. About 100 countries and more than a million people join in the celebration.
Besides the name ‘World Book and Copyright Day’, this day is also familiarized by the names viz. ‘World Book Day’ and ‘International Day of the Book’. This day creates an occasion to honour the books and authors worldwide and inspire people at large to develop their interest and discover the inclination towards reading.
During the celebration of World Book and Copyright Day, representatives of the International Publisher’s Association (IPA) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), together with UNESCO, choose a city to be the World Book Capital. Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading and to organize activities over the year. Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) was named World Book Capital for the year 2020 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, on the recommendation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee. The city was selected because of the intense focus on inclusive education, the development of a knowledge-based society and accessible reading for all parts of the city’s population.

With the slogan KL Baca – caring through reading, the program focuses on four themes:

  1. Reading in all its forms
  2. Development of the book industry infrastructure
  3. Inclusiveness and digital accessibility
  4. Empowerment of children through reading

Among other events and activities there will be the construction of a book city (the Kota Buku Complex), a reading campaign for train commuters, enhancing of digital services and accessibility by the National Library of Malaysia for the disabled, and new digital services for libraries in 12 libraries in poor housing areas of Kuala Lumpur.  
The city’s objective is to foster a culture of reading and inclusiveness – “A city that reads is a city that cares” – emphasizing ubiquitous access to books throughout the city. The city’s ambitious programme for World Book Capital is linked to the Vision 2020 for Kuala Lumpur, and the eco-city project called the River of Life with open-air bookshops and libraries populating the newly-restored waterways of the city.


The inspiration for the celebration came from the tradition in Catalonia, Spain. Catalonia’s patron saint is St. George. According to local legend, St. George slew the dragon on April 23 and saved a princess from being sacrificed. A rosebush grew on the spot where the dragon’s blood dripped. St. George (St. Jordi) picked the rose and gave it to the princess.
From then on, the tradition of a man giving a rose to the person he loves on St. George’s Day started.
In the 1920s, a bookseller from Catalonia realized that April 23 was the death anniversary of revered authors Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare (who died on April 23, 1616). A few authors were born on April 23, such as Manuel Mejía Vallejo, Halldór Kiljan Laxness and Maurice Druon. He promoted the date as a good time to present someone with a book instead of a rose. Many followed the idea, which led to the birth of “The Day of the Book” or El Dia de Libre in Catalan.
The tradition is deeply established in Barcelona, which is the publishing hub for books in Spanish and Catalan languages. In the region, a book is exchanged for a rose, and the gift-giving tradition on April 23 does not distinguish between genders. Most of the annual book purchases in Catalonia happen during the region’s Book and Rose Fair. Booksellers present a rose to anyone who buys a book. Various other activities are planned during the event, and many authors and publishers launch their books during the fair.

This date was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a worldwide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone to access books. It is also the day to honour books, authors and the copyright laws that protect the intellectual properties of the authors. Various other factors make the World Book and Copyright Right Day very significant. It declares the intent of UNESCO to support equal access to knowledge, diversity and creativity. Various organizations work together to promote mobile learning, literacy, open access to educational resources and scientific knowledge.


It cannot be denied that books still have the power to connect cultures and generations.
The celebration of this day plays a significant role to inculcate reading habits in the students and develop their interest in them to know about several authors and other relevant things.
Perhaps the most straightforward way to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day is to read a book. Check out a new book from your local library, purchase a book from a local bookseller, or reread a favourite book you have at home. If you have a particularly busy day on April 23, reading a portion of a book with your family can be a great way to end the day and to celebrate the holiday.

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When you read a book, you become a part of the ongoing transfer of information and culture that is so important to human history. You’re also supporting the work of writers who are devoted to the process of information and cultural exchange.

Happy World Book and Copyright Day!

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