After a three year effort, World Book Night officials said this morning they are suspending its operations. In a statement, executive director Carl Lennertz cited lack of outside funding as the main reason for ending the book-giving project.
"The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, and shippers, are too high to sustain without additional outside funding," Lennertz wrote.
Lennertz noted that attempts to secure outside grants did not meet with success. "There are a lot of other worthy causes out there, and only so much money available," he said.
This past April, WBN volunteers gave away about 500,000 copies of books and, although the program generated a good bit of local media attention, its impact on book sales was difficult to quantify. "For us here at World Book Night, this experience has been life-changing, as it has been for the givers and recipients of the books," Lennertz said.
According to Lennertz, the WBN staff will stay on without pay through early September to maintain social media contact with the givers, and to announce the winners of the giver essay contest.
WBN U.S. chairman, and Hachette Book Group CEO, Michael Pietsch thanked the WBN U.S. staff and Lennertz for their service. “The World Book Night Board joins me in extending their deep gratitude to all who have taken part, and to Carl Lennertz for his inspiring leadership,” Pietsch said in a statement.