To earn the coveted World Book Capital title from UNESCO, a city must demonstrate its commitment to promoting books and the hobby of reading to its people. And since 2001, one city per year has been carefully selected to host the honour.
In addition to Cities of Gastronomy, Cities of Design and Cities of Literature, UNESCO have also awarded the prestigious honour of World Book Capital to cities across the world. Back in 1995 UNESCO launched the ‘World Book and Copyright Day’ which falls each year on April 23. The capital city gets to hold the World Book status from this date until the following 22 April. This date was chosen as two great authors British William Shakespeare and Spanish Miguel de Cervantes both died on this date. And of course, copyright issues are important today more than ever with the advent of digital readers and downloadable content.
Madrid in Spain was chosen as the first World Book host city in 2001. The Huertas district is where many famous authors lived and worked, such as Miguel de Cervantes who dies here in 1616. American author Ernest Hemingway and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mario Vargas Llosa also lived in Madrid.
The Italian city of Turin hosted the World Book honour in 2006 thanks to its impressive literary credentials. Authors such as Giambattista Marino in the 17th century, through to modern day writers such as Alessandro Perissinotto and Alessandro Baricco helped Turin place itself firmly on the literary map.
This year Bangkok is the World Book Capital thanks to its dedication to the book supply chain and community efforts towards literature.
Next year, Port Harcourt in Nigeria is the World Book Capital 2014 due to its youth literary programme and the impact it will have on encouraging reading, writing and publishing to improve Nigeria’s literacy rates.
World Book Capital Cities 2001 to 2014
2001 – Madrid, Spain
2002 – Alexandria, Egypt
2003 – New Delhi, India
2004 – Antwerp, Belgium
2005 – Montreal, Canada
2006 – Turin, Italy
2007 – Bogotá, Colombia
2008 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
2009 – Beirut, Lebanon
2010 – Ljubljana, Slovenia
2011 – Buenos Aires, Argentina
2012 – Yerevan, Armenia
2013 – Bangkok, Thailand
2014 – Port Harcourt, Nigeria