Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler in the Great Book Giveaway!

What’s the perfect way to pit acclaimed authors Neil Gaiman and Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) against each other? Challenge them to give away the most books to a park full of eager fans, while also fending off the biting New York City cold! Gaiman and Handler came to Washington Square Park’s Garibaldi Plaza early this morning to take part in the the National Book Foundation’s Great Book Giveaway, alongside a portable reading room provided by the Uni Project.

Check out more photos from the event, plus a quick clip of Neil and Daniel facing off in their quest to give away the most books, below!

In addition to giving away free copies of their books, Gaiman and Handler handed out copies of this year’s National Book Award Finalists in anticipation of tonight’s 2014 National Book Awards. Handler will host the awards, and Gaiman will present the Medal for Distinguished Contibution to American Letters to famed fantasy and science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin.

Author Zadie Smith stopped by the event with her daughter, who seemed very skeptical when Smith insisted that Handler was the author of the Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which she has been reading.

Zadie Smith Daniel Handler Great Book Giveaway

Gaiman neglected to wear a hat over his famously unruly hair, which may have put him at a tactical disadvantage compared to the well-bundled Handler.

After the books ran out, Gaiman and Handler stayed to give out hugs and autographs to all those still waiting in line. No winner had been declared at press time, but we’re guessing the answer depends on who you ask, since both Gaiman and Handler seemed sure of their victory.

Neil Gaiman Daniel Handler Great Book Giveaway

Photos and video by Katharine Duckett


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