UNESCO World Book Capital


About the World Book Capital

The World Book Capital title is awarded based on the decision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and is held by a selected city of the world for a period of one year. The selection is made on the basis of applications submitted and a recommendation by a committee made up of representatives of the International Authors Forum, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and the International Publishers Association. The programme year starts on 23 April – World Book Day – each year and ends on 22 April of the following year. The programme series allows for an opportunity for all players of the book industry to meet both one another and their audience. Following Madrid in 2001, 22 other cities across the world have been afforded the opportunity to contribute to raising awareness of various cultures and peoples through programmes aimed at promoting reading and books, thereby serving the development and enhancement of tolerance and sustainability on the planet.



The Budapest World Book Capital 2023

On 11 November 2020, the General Assembly of Budapest decided that the Hungarian capital would submit an application for World Book Capital 2023. The Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library was assigned to coordinate the tasks relating to the preparation of the application.
As such, the Standing Committee – responsible for operative tasks – started its work by coordinating the library. Members of the Committee included representatives of the Office of the Deputy Mayor Responsible for Cultural Affairs and the Department of Culture, Tourism, Sports and Youth Policy of the Municipality of Budapest, the Department of Libraries and Archives of the State Secretariat of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Human Resources and the Department of International Organisations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, while publishers were represented by the Hungarian Publishers' and Booksellers' Association.
In the interest of ensuring the application’s success, the Standing Committee initiated widespread professional cooperation to formulate the concept and establish the core messages and programmes. In this context, the Professional Advisory Board started its work in December 2020 with the involvement of key professional organisations linked to the book industry and the culture of reading.

The application had been completed and on 13 April 2021, after having co-signed it, Mayor Gergely Karácsony and Erzsébet Gy. Németh, Deputy Mayor Responsible for Cultural Affairs, submitted Budapest’s bid for World Book Capital 2023.


What makes the Application of Budapest unique?

Our aim is to respond to the current challenges of our world through book culture, relying on the experience of a city that is celebrating its 150th jubilee year in 2023. We will turn reading and even novel writing into a community experience, involve the sister arts to highlight the importance of environmental protection and sustainability, and showcase the past and present book culture of Budapest. These mutually reinforcing objectives are intended to shape cultural, artistic, educational and social developments on the long term, drawing on, among others, partnerships, creative thinkers and civil society communities.
We will show how the community programmes of the event can serve equal cultural opportunities, the need for which will be even more urgent in the post-pandemic world.
Our application gives writers and readers equal importance; in fact, roles may be reversed during community events, joint work and participatory planning, with the city transforming itself into a physical and mental space facilitating this process. 
This is reflected by the participatory, active nature of a large number of events, and the desired socialisation of the implementation effort via large numbers of volunteers.
The high number of the events and their versatility of forms and genres are a unique feature.



The World Book Capital Ambassadors Budapest




Katalin Bogyay

Ambassador, President of the 36th Session of the UNESCO General Conference, 15th Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations
in New York

“Language is the cornerstone of our civilisation, the most important medium of expressing and passing on cultural heritage. Linguistic diversity is a shining example of the cultural variance that makes humanity so rich and beautiful. If we don't take urgent measures, half of the more than 6,000 languages spoken today are estimated to soon disappear, and humanity is set to lose not only cultural wealth but also ancient knowledge encoded in languages. Books are a most efficient tool of protecting language and communicating thoughts. 
Books and writing have always been a dominant force in the life of Budapest. Speaking of the fertile power of our culture in and to the world is uplifting and empowering. Either reaching to the past or looking to the future, we can share a rich heritage, and books, writing, the protection of language, and the role of writers and creative thoughts will receive particular emphasis in the post-COVID world." Katalin Bogyay


Iván Fischer

Music Director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra

Let 's scroll!
We spent a few years squeezing their gadgets. It didn't work. Scrolling is getting more and more boring, and it’s becoming more and more transparent that we’re just advertising targets. That was enough, let's move on. Back to the books, the sages, the poets whose reading enchants you, flies you to another world, frees you from everyday worries, gives you answers and enriches you. Get rid of it too! The book doesn’t store, it doesn’t analyze your data, reading isn’t interrupted by advertising, Don’t charge your phone next to your bed anymore, rather put a book on your bedside table. You will sleep better." Iván Fischer



Judit Polgár

International Chess Grandmaster

"For me, books are an eternal companion. As a child, books were my friend and my teacher – and they still are, if anything, our relationship has become even closer. Probably because I also write. Books. As an adult, I now share my knowledge and experiences because I know what powers a true story, an inspirational thought or a few encouraging words hold. I have lived through it and now want to communicate the feeling of flow I felt and still feel when I play chess or when I read." Judit Polgár