Today, August 9, marks National Book Lovers Day. It’s a special day for bibliophiles to celebrate their love of literature and reading.
National Book Lovers Day is being celebrated on Twitter with a special emoji and thousands of Twitter users have shared their love of reading. It’s become a top trending topic on Twitter already.
Here’s a look at the history of books and the holiday.
1. The Origin of the Holiday is Unknown, but Google Searches Started in 2007
The origin and creator National Book Lovers Day is unknown, notes National Day Calendar.
However, Google Trends shows that searches for “National Book Lovers Day” began in August 2007. Searches for “Book Lovers Day” started in 2004, but in November instead of August.
By 2012, August 9 was embraced as “National Book Lovers Day,” as that’s when searches for it really began to spike. The site True Book Addict and others mentioned the holiday in 2012.
2. Libraries Used to Chain Their Books to Shelves & You Couldn’t See the Spine
In Game of Thrones, we see books chained to shelves. That is how books used to be kept in libraries to stop books from being stolen. In addition, you couldn’t see the spine. Displaying books with the title of the spine outwards is surprisingly a modern innovation.
As Francesca Mari wrote for the Paris Review in 2012, when scrolls gave way to books in libraries, books were often put on shelves without the spine out. Mari notes that Duke professor Henry Petroski wrote in The Book on the Bookshelf that engravings show books were piled horizontally “standing on the edge opposite their spine (their fore edge), as well as turned fore edge out.” That’s how books were shelved for over 1,400 years.
During the Middle Ages, monks decided to chain their books to desks or lecterns. As the collections grew larger, books were chained to shelves instead. But since this made study of two books next to each other difficult, vertical storage finally became popular.
But even then, books were displayed with the spines inward, so some readers would draw on the edges of the pages to identify which books they had on the shelves. Mari writes that it wasn’t until 1535 that the first printing began to show up on spines, leading to the way we display our books today.
3. Book Sales Revenue Has Been Climbing, While eBook Sales Are Decreasing
While book publishers around the world once feared that ebooks would kill physical books like online downloads and streaming hurt the music industry, that is surprisingly not the case. Recent financial reports have shown that sales of books are climbing, while ebook sales are decreasing.
Talking New Media reports that a sales report released by the Association of American Publishers on August 1, 2017 shows that book publishers’ revenue hit $2.33 billion for the first quarter of 2017. That’s up 4.9 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.
The report showed that eBook sales dropped to $281 million, a decrease of 5.3 percent. However, downloads of audio books have soared 28.8 percent, with $74.7 million in sales in the first quarter of 2017.
There is one caveat to the report though, Talking New Media notes. The sales report didn’t include Amazon eBook sales.
4. Howard Berg Claims to Be the Fastest Reader in the World, as He Can Read 25,000 Words Per Minute
Howard Stephen Berg claims to be the fastest reader in the world. In 1990, he was included in the Guinness World of Records book for reading 25,000 words per minute and writing 100 words per minute, notes the Information Marketing Association. At one point, he was offered an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but turned her down.
“Oprah wanted to have me do the speed reading thing on a show with a bunch of other Guinness people, and I said no,” Berg told the Information Marketing Association. “I told them that this is a serious story about helping children graduate and adults find jobs. I really want to present it in a story that treats it with the respect and the focus it deserves and not just as somebody ‘eating goldfish’ along with the others. I want to be seen as a coach, the person who will help. Not the side show. Not a Barnum & Bailey’s act.”
Today, Berg continues to help people read faster. He shares his strategies on How To Learn.com and wrote Super Reading Secrets. According to his LinkedIn bio, he is an executive at Howard Stephen Berg Learning Systems LLC and is based in McKinney, Texas.
5. The United Nations Organizes World Book and Copyright Day, but It’s in April
National Book Lovers Day isn’t the only book holiday. Each year on April 23, the day Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died in 1616, the United Nations holds World Book and Copyright Day. In 2017, Conakry, Guinea was the World Book Capital.
“It was a natural choice for UNESCO’s General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity,” reads a statement on the UN website. “With this in mind, UNESCO created the World Book and Copyright Day.”