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Books, translation, reading and copyright

By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright. 
23 April is a symbolic date for world literature, since 23 April 1616 was the date of death of Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. 23 April is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo.

Translation is the first step towards the rapprochement of peoples, and is also a decentralizing experience, teaching diversity and dialogue. Translation is one of the driving principles of our creative diversity, which enriches each language through contact with all the others. 

Irina Bokova, Director General
Message for World Book and Copyright Day 2012

This is why UNESCO chose this date to pay a worldwide tribute to books and their authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and to gain a renewed respect for the extraordinary contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.
The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia (Spain) where it has become a tradition to give a rose as a gift for each book purchased.
The success of the World Book and Copyright Day will depend primarily on the support received from all parties concerned: authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media.

Poster Index Translationum 80th Anniversary © UNESCO

Poster Index Translationum 80th Anniversary © UNESCO

They have been mobilized in each country by UNESCO National Commissions, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations, Associated Schools and Libraries, and by all those who feel motivated to take part in this celebration of books and authors around the world.

The year 2012 also marks the 80th anniversary of the Index Translationum. This international bibliography of translation provides a unique tool for the monitoring of translation flows in the world. UNESCO will celebrate this anniversary by organizing a debate on this instrument. This meeting, which will take place at UNESCO Headquarters on 23 April 2012, will bring together researchers and users of the Index Translationum as well as specialists in the field of translation and book markets.

Consequently, UNESCO suggests that the activities organized in conjunction with this year’s World Book and Copyright Day focus on the themes of books and translation.



Join the celebration

  • Download books published over 100 years ago on Kindle, they’re free!

  • Share your passion for an author and offer his book to people around you!

  • Take this opportunity to discover something new from what you're used to read.

  • Leave a book on a park bench or a metro seat with a note saying “Happy Book and Copyright Day!”

  • Find out how to send your old books to schools and libraries in countries facing a post-disaster situation. 

  • Educate yourself on books pirating: respect for copyright encourages the dissemination of knowledge and rewards their creators and publishers.

  • Never throw away your books, get involved in local community or online book swapping and donation campaigns and initiatives.

  • Plan local reading events in schools and libraries and encourage famous guest readers to get involved.

VIDEO: Wole Soyinka, 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature