The Thursday event was part of a celebration, in 12 countries, by the e-commerce giant to mark World Book Day.

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Amazon.com on Thursday celebrated World Book Day by setting up a “global free library” in the lobby of one of its South Lake Union buildings — allowing passers-by to come in and pick up a book. Or drop one off.

The event was part of a celebration, in 12 countries, by the e-commerce giant. The event was inspired by Catalonia’s feast of Sant Jordi, in which people give their loved ones a book and a rose. In South Lake Union, an Amazon employee was distributing roses to people attending the event.

“Books are home for Amazon,” said Robin Mendelson, the company’s director of books and media.

At the event, Amazon staffers dropped off their favorite books in cardboard bins. Others took the opportunity to pick up new reads.

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Amazon employee Wenchang Liu chose about a half-dozen books for his 1-year old, including Spider-Man and Star Wars-related material, as well as Dr. Seuss. “It may be too much for him now, but maybe later,” Liu said.

The celebration spilled over to an adjacent square, where a poet typed up poems on demand on a typewriter and Amazon’s Treasure Truck gave out free children’s books.

Publishers donated thousands of books for the occasion, an Amazon spokeswoman said. The remaining books will be donated to Mary’s Place and the Pike Place Market Foundation.