World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day or International Day of the Book, is an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. The first World Book Day was celebrated on 23 April in 1995, and continues to be recognized on that day. A related event in the United and Ireland is observed in March. On the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO along with the advisory committee from the major sectors of the book industry, select the World Book Capital for one year. Each designated World Book Capital City carries out a program of activities to celebrate and promote books and reading.
The original idea was conceived in 1922 by Spanish writer Vicente Clavel Andrés as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes. It was first celebrated on 7 October 1926, Cervantes’ birthday, before being moved to his death date, 23 April, in 1930. The celebration continued to enjoy great popularity in Spain, especially in Catalonia, where it coincides with the Diada de Sant Jordi, the patron saint of Catalonia. The Diada usually involves the exchange of gifts between loved ones and, since the 1931 Book Fair in Barcelona, the gifts are a book and a rose.In 1995, UNESCO decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors. (In a historical coincidence, Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date — 23 April 1616 — but not on the same day, as at the time, Spain used the Gregorian calendar and England used the Julian calendar; Shakespeare actually died 10 days after Cervantes died, on 3 May of the Gregorian calendar.)