Apr 24, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff WriterOne volunteer gave out free copies of the widely popular "Hunger Games" novel at Arapahoe School. Another planned to distribute former best-seller "The Kite Runner" at Mr. D's in Lander at no cost to takers.
"It's World Book Night," said Barbara Gose to instructors at a class Monday at Central Wyoming College, where she distributed books. "We're giving away books -- a half a million."Sure, it was Monday morning when Gose visited the class with copies of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie to students, but the importance of the night was not lost in the daylight.
As part of the first-ever World Book Night held Monday throughout the United States, Gose and six others in Fremont County gave out free copies of some of the 30 different selected book titles.
"It started in England, and this is the first year they have done it in the United States -- and it will catch on," Gose said. "Just imagine that on Monday people all over the United States are going to be handing out books."
The idea is simple: Publishers donate books, authors give up royalties on the specially produced copies and UPS delivers them for free to distribution points across the country.
"It's not about the sale of a book. It's about the excitement of reading," said Lander's Main Street Books co-owner Amanda Winchester, who was instrumental in organizing the effort in Fremont County.
Winchester applied to the organization that staged World Book Night in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Germany. She wanted to be a location for book deliveries in the area.
In March, Winchester tried to get people interested in the idea, but she said there was a lack of support.
"I don't think people understood what it was," she said.
But slowly people in Lander and Riverton jumped on board with the idea of giving out free copies of a book at a specific location.
"As a giver, you had to say why you wanted that book, who you were giving it to and why," Winchester said.
In Riverton, Gose, Niki Tippets and Liz Davis knew each other from their book club and decided to participate. Tippets chose "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls and Davis gave away "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult.
"I wanted to try to get books into the hands of people who might not read too much," Gose said. " And I would want to say to them, 'I'm going to give this to you for free, and your part of the bargain is to read this, and then pass it on.'"
She chose the book because of the American Indian population in the area. The book is about an American Indian's teenage life.
"It's very readable, and it's funny, but it gives an insight," she said.
"It's just the kind of book that's easy to read but really makes a statement," Gose said. "While it's fiction, it's really not. And it won the National Book Award for young people's fiction a couple years ago."
In Lander, Winchester's mother and Main Street co-owner, Kathy Cunningham, picked "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins to provide.
Others participating in Lander were Rachel Pierson with "Blood Work" by Michael Connelly, Catherine Erickson with "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak and Jennifer Wilson with "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.
"When I looked at the list I was so impressed with the choices, and I think that's what excited those that signed up was the choices," Winchester said.
She recalled the reception for the book-givers she had at her store earlier this month.
"We set out all the books, and we kind of talked to each other," she said.
"That part was fun to hear the excitement about why they chose where they were going" and the book each of them picked, she said. "They were all passionate about the book that they chose."
Each book has a special dedication page and cover for the event.
"This one is yours, and we hope that someday it is someone else's, too. There are few gifts more precious than sharing the love of a good story with someone else," the dedication states.
Winchester said she hopes to see the event grow in Fremont County next year.
"I just don't remember where you have anybody giving away that many books for free," she said.
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