Today is “World Book & Copyright Day.” Who knew? It’s also known as just “World Book Day” and “International Day of the Book,” but I think copyright should get a shout out, too. It’s celebrated on April 23 in the US and the first Thursday of March in the UK, and it would seem that 2015 is the twentieth anniversary of the day, inaugurated in 1995 by UNESCO, a UN agency, to promote reading, publishing, and copyright (occasionally they get something right). And no, it’s not a day to celebrate “World Books” (whatever those might be), but just a day for the world to celebrate books.
World Book Day appears to be a much more celebratory event in the UK than the US. Perhaps we book-loving types can just let it be a nudge to remember the power and privilege of books in our lives: Create or stock a Little Free Library; donate children’s books to a hospital or low-income school; buy multiple copies of a new author’s book to give away; volunteer for an after-school reading program. Or, hey, why not write and publish your own book and release it on World Book Day? It’s not that hard, and it’s the ultimate statement of bibliophilia.
We actually have something bigger to celebrate in our era. Books are no longer the purview primarily of stuffy publishers with protected connections. New technology and the Internet has democratized the process of writing, publishing, and selling books so that anyone can create a book with minimal cost. And you don’t need to fret about getting copyright right. If you write something original, and you can prove it, and you put it in a “fixed” format (print, digital, etc.), it’s yours–you’re not even required to add a copyright notice or register the copyright with the Library of Congress. We don’t see it because it has crept up on us, but the digital revolution in books is probably on a par with the invention of the printing press in 1440.
Sally and I have been writing and publishing our own books since 1994, about the same time that WBD has been around. Our dozen or so books are a “paper pulpit” and a “literary legacy” that we will leave behind us. We don’t own all of our copyrights, but our children will own and control many of our copyrights for seventy years after we’re gone. And then, if fates allow and God so moves, some of our books might still be around in the next century to help multiple generations of Christian families. That’s why we’ll keep making books as long as we can. That’s why we celebrate books and copyrights today. And for what it’s worth, even with the growth of ebooks, we believe that books will stay “in print.” We want to pass down the motto for the book lovers who come behind us that in their homes “books live here.”
So, again, Happy World Book Day. And if you’re ever tempted to think books might not make it, just remember that the “Lamb’s Book of Life” is a physical book in heaven with things written in it (Rev 13:8), and that God’s word will never “pass away” (Matt 24:35). God’s Word is a Book for the World that we can celebrate every Day.