23 April was first proclaimed as World Book and Copyright Day by UNESCO in 1995. The Day is celebrated by a growing number of partners and since its launch has shown itself to be a great opportunity for reflection and information on a significant theme.
It is observed by millions of people in over 100 countries, in hundreds of voluntary organizations, schools, public bodies, professional groups and private businesses. In this lengthy period, World Book and Copyright Day has won over a considerable number of people from every continent and all cultural backgrounds to the cause of books and copyright. It has enabled them to discover, make the most of and explore in greater depth a multitude of aspects of the publishing world: books as vectors of values and knowledge, and depositories of the intangible heritage; books as windows onto the diversity of cultures and as tools for dialogue; books as sources of material wealth and copyright-protected works of creative artists. All of these aspects have been the subject of numerous awareness-raising and promotional initiatives that have had a genuine impact. There must nevertheless be no let-up in these efforts.
Since 2000, World Book and Copyright Day has inspired another initiative of professional organizations which receives the assistance of UNESCO and backing from States: World Book Capital City. Each year a city is chosen which undertakes to maintain, through its own initiatives, the impetus of the Day’s celebrations until 23 April of the following year. Almost all the regions of the world, in turn, have already been involved in this process, which thus transforms the celebration of books and copyright into a recurrent activity, extending still further the geographical and cultural influence of books.
Over recent years, the World Day has shown that it can be a potent symbol for the launch of major support operations, in particular in Latin America and Africa.