Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) was named World Book Capital for the year 2020 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, on the recommendation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.
The city was selected because of the strong focus on inclusive education, the development of a knowledge-based society and accessible reading for all parts of the city’s population.
With the slogan "KL Baca – caring through reading", the program focuses on four themes: reading in all its forms, development of the book industry infrastructure, inclusiveness and digital accessibility, and empowerment of children through reading. Among other events and activities there will be the construction of a book city (the Kota Buku Complex), a reading campaign for train commuters, enhancing of digital services and accessibility by the National Library of Malaysia for the disabled, and new digital services for libraries in 12 libraries in poor housing areas of Kuala Lumpur.
The city's objective is to foster a culture of reading and inclusiveness - “A city that reads is a city that cares” – emphasizing ubiquitous access to books throughout the city. The city’s ambitious programme for World Book Capital is linked to the Vision 2020 for Kuala Lumpur and the eco-city project called the River of Life with open-air bookshops and libraries populating the newly-restored waterways of the city.
The year of celebrations will start on 23 April 2020, on the World Book and Copyright Day.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading and to organize activities over the year. As the twentieth city to bear the title since 2001, Kuala Lumpur follows Sharjah (2019), and Athens (2018). Past winners include Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Anvers (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam(2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Erevan (2012), Bangkok (2013), Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016).
The application of the city of Kuala Lumpur was accepted by an Advisory Committee, comprising representatives of the International Publisher's Association (IPA), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and UNESCO.