Hello everyone! It’s Elizabeth with your annual update from the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival in Washington, DC! If it seems a little early for that, it is! That’s just one of the big changes at the book festival this year. In addition to moving to Labor Day weekend, the festival also changed locations to the Washington Convention Center. And the festival is back down to one day, instead of two, but they added some new evening programs.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about the changes. The festival didn’t attract as many big name authors this year, and I suspect it’s because some of them didn’t want to give up their long weekend! The Convention Center is huge, which allowed them to fit more people and have more programs happening at once, but it was hard to find my way around and took a lot longer to move between locations. On the other hand, we didn’t have to worry about weather, which is definitely a plus.
There were some new categories added this year, and I got to check out two of them: Science and Culinary Arts. I had mixed feelings about the Culinary Arts section, because I love cooking but don’t really read cookbooks. However, all of the participants were really well-chosen. They had a mix of author talks and demonstrations by chefs, and lots of different cuisines were represented. I saw part of Laura and Peter Zeranski’s talk. They write award-winning Polish cookbooks. I’d love to try a few recipes, apparently they have a good collection of traditional holiday foods.
The science talk I saw was by Eric H. Cline, about his book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. He started his talk by showing his book trailer, a great idea. You can see the it here. (More authors should make book trailers!) Cline is a field archaeologist and a professor, and his book is about the end of the Bronze Age.
After complaining about the state of the book sales tent last year, I was happy to see that it is now being hosted by a local DC bookstore, Politics and Prose. They also had a separate gift shop which sold t-shirts and other souvenirs. I like this idea, but once again I was disappointed that only the author’s most recent book was for sale. When I find a new author, especially one who has written a series, I want to start at the beginning! I would be happy for more of my book money to go to a local bookstore or support the festival, but the poor selection means more than half of my booksale-related purchases will come from Amazon.
Overall, I had an excellent time at the book festival. Although I missed being at the mall, it was great to have more space for this popular festival! (Plus, I appreciated the air conditioning) If you want to know more, check out Of Print and Prose’s Twitter page. I tweeted live updates throughout the day. I was able to see a lot of great authors this year! I’ll write more about them tomorrow!