The 23rd of April is World Book and Copyright Day, established by UNESCO as an annual celebration to promote reading and protection of intellectual property. Warsaw is one of the European cities which place particular emphasis on the value of books in everyday life.
The reading rate increases. In 2020, 42 percent of Poles read at least one book, making it the best result in seven years. Warsaw is providing increasingly strong support for reading.
For many years, we have supported initiatives related to reading and promoting books. In numerous literary competitions, we recognise authors, support the development of libraries and small bookshops, and organise residencies in Warsaw. We co-organise and co-finance literary festivals, open-air events and meetings with authors. The effects of these activities are clearly visible – Varsovians read books eagerly! stated Aldona Machnowska-Góra, Deputy Mayor of the Capital City of Warsaw.
Awarded Books in Three Competitions
This year the Literary Prize of the Capital City of Warsaw will be awarded for the 14th time. The prizes will be allocated to books in the following categories: prose, poetry, children’s literature (text and illustrations) and Warsaw-themed book (formerly the Warsaw edition). An honourable mention will be granted to the Varsovian Creator.
The City also co-organises a competition for the best reportage - the Ryszard Kapuściński Prize, awarded for over a decade to the outstanding reporter, writer and poet. This year’s 11th edition featured 128 books, out of which the jury has already selected 28 that they consider the most interesting. In May and June, they will select ten and five nominees respectively, and in September this year’s Kapuściński Award will be announced.
The Capital City of Warsaw is also the founder and organiser of the Kazimierz Moczarski Historical Award. It is granted to authors of publications devoted to Poland’s recent history. The prize is one of the major historical prizes in the country and its winners included Timothy Snyder, Karol Modzelewski and Jerzy Kochanowski.
Pre-holiday Literary Events
Warsaw is hosting “Poems in the City” until 15 May. This year, the event is taking place in virtual space - details on the event website, where poems by 20 European authors are being published (also in audio version).
In June, Warsaw will host the Big Book Festival, an international literary festival, for the ninth time. The slogan of this year’s event is “It will be the most beautiful yet!” – the organisers guarantee a large portion of optimism and faith in a better tomorrow. Details at the Facebook event.
As well, the annual Literary Open Air in Warsaw’s Saxon Garden is scheduled for June. At last year’s event, around 40 publishers from all over Poland presented their proposals, while the capital's residents and tourists participated in meetings with twenty authors.
This year, the Warsaw Book Fair has been moved to September. Due to the pandemic, it will be held in an outdoor version – on Plac Defilad.
Support for Independent Bookshops
There are around 100 small local bookshops in Warsaw. These are places where, apart from selling books, meetings with authors, debates on culture, fairs and exhibitions are organised. Independent bookshops have suffered greatly from the coronavirus pandemic, which is why the Capital City has supported them from the beginning.
In 2020, the ‘Favourite Bookshop of Warsaw’ competition was organised for the first time. The winners - ten local bookshops – ten local bookshops – were awarded cash prizes worth a total of PLN 78,000 and may use the title “Favourite Bookshop of Warsaw” for a whole year
Last year’s edition of the Bookshop Night was also extraordinary, as it was mostly virtual. Due to the pandemic and crisis in the book trade, the “Order a book by phone” campaign was also inaugurated to support local bookshops, including those in Warsaw.
Visiting Libraries is Worthwhile
Warsaw’s public libraries can also boast of considerable activity. Last spring, when the pandemic started, they joined the nationwide #NieZostawiamCzytelnika campaign, and virtual meetings with authors promptly began to gather crowds of children’s and adult literature fans. Information on events organised by the Capital’s public libraries can be found at www.bibliotekiwarszawy.pl