UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, confirmed the city on 19th September following the recommendation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee whose decision was based on the city’s strong focus on inclusive education, the development of a knowledge-based society and accessible reading for all parts of the city’s population.

Malaysian Book Publishers Association (MABOPA) President, Mr Ishak Hamzah said: The Kuala Lumpur World Book Capital 2020 bid was a joint effort between the book industry, government agencies, non-government organizations, and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall. We aspire to highlight Kuala Lumpur as a reading city that cares about the environment and people from all walks of life. This recognition from UNESCO would definitely boost the development of the local book industry in Kuala Lumpur and throughout Malaysia. We would like to thank IPA and IFLA that make up the advisory panel for trusting us to be the 20th Unesco World Book Capital.

IPA Secretary General, José Borghino added: I am delighted to see the enthusiastic reaction from one of our newest members. When I visited them In August I had to keep my lips sealed but now we can congratulate them loudly and openly. IPA is looking forward to celebrating with them in 2020.

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 to the National Library of Malaysia for the disabled, and new digital services for libraries in 12 libraries in poor housing districts 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, World Book and Copyright Day.

About the World Book Capital Cities

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 World Book Capital Cities Advisory Committee comprises representatives of the International Publisher’s Association (IPA), the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and UNESCO.