World Book Night US - Carl's blog

Welcome to Carl’s Blog! Check here for news, updates, and more from our intrepid leader—Carl Lennertz, Executive Director of World Book Night U.S.

Monday, 02 June 2014 17:24

WBN team at #BEA2014

While April 23 is our favorite time of year, we loved Book Expo America this year because we got to be readers, with a few work-related things sprinkled in there. This year at BEA, there were so many break-out authors as well as renowned authors with break-out titles.

We saw some WBN celebs while we were there: Alethea Kontis (who was just as excited as we were to meet), Carl Hiassen, and Elizabeth Wein (we were able to tell her how much we love her twitter photo. Never change it, Elizabeth!). And it’s always nice to see familiar faces like WBN alum Kate diCamillo and Jesmyn Ward.

In addition to geeking out over Skink–No Surrender, Hero (and Dearest), and Rose Under Fire, we’re so excited to read our ARCs of John Scalzi’s Lock In and the final book of Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy, The Magician’s Land. We also got our hands on the ambitious, multi-platform story Endgame by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton. ALL THIS AND MORE… so needless to say, we are very excited for bookshelves this summer.

So while we get our read on, we’ll re-cap the rest of WBN’s BEA experience in pictures. 


Alethea Kontis, we love you so much.



Marketing Assistant Alia Almeida and NYU-sCPS Volunteer Chloe Goodhart in line for Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar.



Happy times: Executive Director Carl Lennertz, ebook author Chris Cander, Director of Development Carolyn Schwartz, and Social Media Manager Laura Peraza.



Jane Lynch taking a selfie with a happy fan. She’s so awesome.


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At BookCon: Grumpy Cat, the back of yo’ head is ridiculous.


By the end of the week, we were exhausted and very happy. We were so happy to attend and can’t wait for BEA 2015. For now though, we’ll be intensely reading our book swag. Guess what our #FridayReads is going to be this week…


Here’s a (pretty obvious) hint.


– Alia Almeida, WBN Team


PicStitch photo6    YPGphoto8      YPGphoto2    

For the third year in a row, the Association of American Publishers' Young to Publishing Group's community service arm, YPG Cares, gathered on the steps of the New York Public Library's central branch and gave out books in Bryant Park in support of World Book Night. With the largest turnout to date, there were 42 volunteers present, giving away boxes of 19 different titles, from The Perks of Being a Wallflower to Kitchen Confidential. Volunteers were present from publishing houses such as Random House, Wiley, Grove/Atlantic, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Columbia University Press, Simon & Schuster, Harlequin, Penguin, John Wiley & Sons, and more, as well as several literary agencies and management companies, all banding together to share the love of reading with fellow New Yorkers.

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Approximately 18 YPG Cares volunteers were proud to also volunteer on Tuesday, April 22nd at the NYPL launch event for #WBN2014, doing everything from setting up chairs to guiding people toward the room to handing out stickers and free books to excited attendees. In addition, six YPG Cares volunteers spent their lunch hour on Wednesday, April 23rd helping WBN staff and the Broadway League put copies of Shakespeare’s sonnets on the chairs of three Broadway shows.


“World Book Night captures the spirit and enthusiasm and altruism of what the publishing community represents, which is the infectious love of reading and desire to share that joy as widely as possible,” says YPG Cares founder and AAP Program Manager Becca Worthington. “It’s an amazing initiative and a beautiful, profound experience for the givers. We’re looking forward to World Book Night 2015 already!”


Launched in October 2010, YPG Cares is proud to show support for World Book Night as one of the non-profits and community service organizations whose literacy programs are close to its heart. A full list of collaborations can be found at

            YPGteam photo4 


World Book Night U.S. announced that Amy Poehler has agreed to be the honorary chairperson for this year’s World Book Night campaign in April 2014.

Amy Poehler offered the following about reading and World Book Night: “I grew up loving books. In today's digital world, it's more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands. I'm thrilled to be part of World Book Night. People who read are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and tell and read.”

World Book Night U.S. Executive Director Carl Lennertz said: “This news is the icing, cherry and candles on the year three WBN cake. We’ve already announced a seven-author New York Public Library launch event, our highest percentage of free books going to teachers and students in underfunded schools, and a record number of participating librarians and booksellers, and Amy Poehler joining our cause is a happy, happy event. On behalf of our 25,000 volunteer givers and 500,000 book recipients this coming April 23, we say thank you.”

Saturday, 11 January 2014 14:36

Thank you applicants!

Thank you, dear giver applicants! Don’t stress, ok? 99% of you completely understood the WBN mission and that’s wonderful!

Look for an email Feb. 3 saying "yes, you’re in," and then pick your host store or library from our official map. You aren’t an official WBN giver until you complete your store or library shipping choice in Feb.; it’ll all be an easy one-step process.

I wish we could email you sooner, but we have to read the last batch of applications, work out first book choices, and test the system that notifies you. We are also finalizing the bookstore and library list, the places where your box will be sent. Over 2,000 locations to check on street addresses, geo-location, etc.

We’re also printing books like mad and prepping resource materials for you and the stores and libraries.

You all are awesome. Thank you! Talk soon!


Team WBN

Sunday, 29 December 2013 13:38

Inside WBN

Hi everyone! I just wanted to send along a pre-New Year’s inside-WBN goings on note so you know what we’re doing here, and what you can expect in Jan. and Feb.

1- We’re carefully reading every application; hundreds a day just to keep up. We code each one for location for measurement and media reasons later, and to put a check ‘yes’ by them if they meet the guidelines. They are 99% great. We would email you now but we have found it gets confusing to do it in segments; we’ll do it all at once in early Feb. with instructions on picking your host store or library.

2- Those who tell us a lot and/have a great location/exude passion/applied earlier have the much higher chance of getting first choice of book.

3- We’re delighted to see so many applications from previous givers, as well as from so many first-timers! Very very cool on both counts.

4- We are currently also managing the printing of 37 different books, totaling a half million total copies. A jacket designer has to layout each WBN cover to exact specifications, and we are working with 25 different publishers and 15 different book and cover printers. It’s complicated, and we actually have to hire a traffic manager for the month of January. Truckloads of WBN editions en route to and fro from all over!

5- Inside news: The WBN books have a slightly different look this year, AND the WBN books will have the regular edition’s back descriptive copy this year, per giver survey results last summer. We’ll give you a sneak preview in January.

6- We have also been arranging 25 WBN author events for April 2014, and working on local and national media plans. We have 2 full committees on that.

7- We’ve been managing a tight budget, and as you know, we are in full fundraising mode to close some shortfall for 2014, as well as plan for 2015. We are writing grant proposals like mad, and we really appreciate the individual donations we’ve been getting!

8- January will be consumed by reading all the last minute applications; past experience shows that 5-10,000 apps come in on deadline! Yikes! Gotta read ‘em all, code them, and then we sort the mega-excel and finalize the book choices for each of you.

9- AND, we are also managing the bookstore and library sign-up process; the places where your box will be sent. Over 2,000 locations to check on street addresses, geo-location, etc.

10- So, in early Feb. (sooner if we can!), you’ll get an email noting the book you are getting and directing you to a Google map to pick your store or library. We’ll do a social media blast to alert you to that email going out.

11- We’ll stay in touch by email in March and April with all you need to do to get ready for World Book Night!

We are so so so grateful for the outpouring of thought and caring you all have put into your choice of book giving location and recipients. And yes, some fun places, too. Your concern and compassion for your fellow citizen fills our hearts. We are in awe of you, our WBN givers.


From your WBN team:

Carl, Laura and Carolyn, and several wonderful interns: Alia, Kathi and Devin

Saturday, 23 November 2013 13:26

3 Additional Titles for WBN 2014

Due to overwhelming demand, we’re announcing 3 additional books from which to choose: 2 YA’s and 1 middle reader. The number of books to be be given away will increase to 550,000.

Sadly, the call for books for at-risk teens across the country is growing, from underfunded schools to foster homes to tutoring programs, but it's encouraging that our givers are seeing that need and want to reach out with a book. We had to move fast and get publisher approval to bump up the printings on the current YAs, which they did. Thank you! The applications from givers are so strong we added three titles. I didn't have time to go back to the voting committee, so I went through the long list ballot and ALA top 10 listings, and thankfully, Abrams, Candlewick and YMAA agreed to a title each right away, as did the authors, who have all waived royalties and agreed to take part in the 30 simultaneous April 22 WBN launch events across the country.


The additional WBN US picks for 2014 are:

Monday, 11 November 2013 14:35

Operation Gratitude

We are proud to announce that Ingram Book Company has shipped several hundred World Book Night book boxes from 2013 to Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends packages of necessities – including a book - to military personnel overseas.  

One of our interns found this great organization, and this is our second shipment to them.

Additionally, we continue to receive giver applications from individuals living on or near military bases across the country and on bases overseas, and from givers who will go to VA hospitals and Wounded Warrior facilities to share books.

Thank you, everyone, for your service and generosity.

Monday, 04 November 2013 16:56

Stephen Chbosky on Perks

The wonderful Stephen Chbosky, author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, shares with World Book Night some great stories and a little insight into his writting. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!


I wrote the Perks of Being a Wallflower because I was going through a hard time and I needed to find some hope for my life. Charlie came out of my asking the question, “why do good people let themselves get treated so badly?” At the end of writing the book, I was in a much better place. Charlie was my answer. I will never forget the day I started writing Perks. I had been thinking about this story for five years. Then, one Saturday morning, I woke up, and it felt like Charlie tapped me on the shoulder and said, "It's time." I sat down at my desk, and the words just came out. "Dear Friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen..." That voice. Charlie's voice. It felt like an old friend. I poured all of my memories, thoughts, hopes, dreams, and passions through that voice. That's who Charlie is. That's what Charlie means to me.

Since I published Perks almost 15 years ago, I have received thousands of letters from young people. The letters are as unique as each person who writes one. Some are sad. Others are happy. But they all express a deep longing to be understood and accepted. These young people want to know that they are not alone. The wonderful surprise for me has been that every time someone lets me know that the book made them not feel alone, it makes me feel less alone. There was a time when Perks was not a published book. It was just me alone in a room dreaming about these characters and wondering if anyone would get it. Now, 15 years later, it is one of the most gratifying feelings I’ve ever had to know that so many people do “get it.” I feel far more connected to people now than I ever did.

The epistolary novel is the perfect form to have an intimate connection to the reader. Over the years, a lot of people have asked me who “Dear Friend” is. Of course, I have my answer, and I would give it. The problem is there have been 12 great theories about who dear friend is, and I don't want to take 11 of them away. To me, “dear friend” is like a song lyric. We’ve all had the experience of listening to a song and not being able to understand a lyric here or there. So, what do we do? We make up what the lyric is. We say it over and over until our version becomes the version. Then, sometimes, we will go online and look up what the actual lyric is, and 99 times out of 100, we are disappointed because our lyric was better. It was more personal. So, I can never take away anyone’s “dear friend.”

I will, however, offer this story of the only anonymous letter I personally ever wrote. When I was a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to study film. On the day that I visited the University of Southern California, a man named Stewart Stern was giving a seminar to the students. Stewart wrote the screenplay for "Rebel Without A Cause." So, if you could, imagine this... I am 17 years old. I am from Pittsburgh, and I don’t know anybody in the film business. And now, I am sitting in front of a man who's telling stories about how he met James Dean, and how he used to travel with Marlon Brando, and how Paul Newman was his best friend. I was so moved by this man and his passion for writing that I decided I would go to USC since he was a teacher there. After I arrived at school that fall, he suffered a massive heart attack. When he was recovering in the hospital, I wrote him a letter just to let him know that he had changed my life and how grateful I was to him. I didn't sign my actual name because I didn't want him to think I was just trying to get an agent or something like that. It took him a year and a half to figure out that it was me. He's been my hero and mentor ever since.

So, after being a student at USC for three years, I was sitting in my apartment at 1137 W. 36th Place. After writing several screenplays as a student, I had been encouraged to try writing a novel. I had no education in prose. But film professors like Stewart Stern had faith in me. So, I’d started writing a first person narrative, and in a moment of inspiration I will never forget, I wrote...“I guess that’s one of the perks of being a wallflower.” I stopped. I knew I had my title. I thought about the title for 5 years. I kept picturing this boy and his two friends and the tunnel and those moments when we feel so alive. And as I mentioned, during a dark time, on a Saturday morning, Charlie finally told me he was ready. The book has changed my life in every way it could have. Because of my book, I met my wife Liz, I got my first job in television, and I made the movie, which was the culmination of a 21-year dream.

     —Stephen Chbosky


It's here! We are happy to announce World Book Night's 2014 books tonight at 6:30 in a live online event. And here are tonight's amazing presenters....


Michael Pietsch, Hachette

Jamie Byng and Julia Kingsford, World Book Night UK

Kathleen Marran , Director of Marketing, UPS

Dave McCree, RR Donnelly

Janet McGrimm, Lindermeyer Paper

Calvin Reid, Publishers Weekly

Melissa of Poets & Writers

Christopher Platt, New York Public Library

Miwa Messer, Barnes & Noble

Booksellers group meeting in Austin

Jenn Worthington, Word Books

Robin Dellbabough, Publishers Lunch

Laura Biagi, Young to Publishing Group pres

Group of NYC givers

Ed Nawotka, Publishing Perspectives

Michelle Glorioso, NYC teacher and giver

NYU publishing grad class

Mark Nichols, American Booksellers Association

John Evans, Diesel Books

Amy Cox Williams, Ingram Book Company

Tina Jordan, Association of American Publishers

Brigitte Young, Entertainment Marketing Group

Kris Kliendiest, Left Bank Books in St. Louis

Chris Cander, author and giver

Angela Bolie, IndiePub

Wanda Jewell, SIBA Regional Direcotr

Jessica Stockton, Greenlight Books

Carol Fitzgerald,

Jenn Risko, Shelf Awareness

Morgan Entrekin, Grove Atlantic



Monday, 21 October 2013 18:16

WBN is back!

Well, let’s see. Where were we?

Oh right! YOU made World Book Night in Year Two a smash success!!

You did a great deed and gave books to those in need, helping improve a life. We received thousands of letters from book recipients this summer and we were very, very moved!! We are thinking of a way to archive the letters and might do a video; stay tuned.

Your work as volunteers also resulted in news coverage to the tune of 137 million media impressions in local and national radio, TV, and online coverage! 137 MILLION messages about the power of reading, giving, community, and books. Thank you!!!

(Did you see your friendly WBN team on the Today Show talking with Al Roker the morning of April 23? A cool experience for us. Well, literally. It was 50 and windy out there on the plaza. Al was great and we’d been sucking down hot coffee since 6 AM.)

This summer, we were able to offer every giver a free e-sampler of upcoming fall books, and we got great feedback about that.

Also, your survey answers were both wonderful supportive and constructively critical, and we are always striving to be better.

AND you all got to vote on next year’s picks and man oh man did you recommend some great books! Many giver picks made the final list along with indie and library picks; the full list is announced this week as you know!! The book announcements will be live online at 6:30 PM EST this Wednesday, Oct 23 at We’ll post the video on our site a few days later. The book list will be posted at at 8 PM EST – but please please give it time to filter out and refresh for all computers and ISPs.

About your applications for next year, you can start on Oct. 24! We are eager to hear from you soon, so we can read them all very carefully, and it’s cool to take time and read through the list of books. We’re doing everything earlier this year, so 2014 is not such the stressed-out time it’s been for us the first two years. Applications are open until Jan. 5, 2014, and we really want to stop then and do our work to let you know your giver status. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with the list of who’s announcing the book picks Wednesday night! And follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates.


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