National Book Festival

We've all seen the headlines lately -- Borders closing, publisher lay-offs, downsizing, cutting costs, etc. Couple the bad news with the fear of the e-book trend, and it's really no wonder that the cries of "The book is dead! The book is dying!" continue to sound. But then I spent a day at the National Book Festival, wandering around the masses and masses of people that had come to hear authors speak, get books signed, and generally partake in an orgy of book love. Despite the rain, and the oh-my-god-it's-like-walking-through-pudding-humidity, and the broken escalators on the Metro, thousands upon thousands of people attended the free-to-all show.

There are those that will argue that any free entertainment will draw crowds, and I agree. But the fact that, free or no, people of all ages flocked to the Mall to celebrate the book tells me that there is still an indelible love for books in all of us. Children were excited to make their own bookmarks and hear authors in the storytelling tent, and adults in crowds ten-deep behind the seated areas of author-speaking tents. I sat for 45 minutes stalking open seats to score three together for Sarah Vowell's talk (I love her).

To me, it doesn't matter how we read, or really even what we read, so long as we continue to read. The National Book Festival was an event seemingly born of this ideal, celebrating the book, its authors, the institutions that support it, and the people who consume it. Well done, Library of Congress.

1 comment

  1. I'm so glad you went to the festival! I was planning on going, but I realized last week that I really wasn't looking forward to the drive. Yes, I know it would have been worth it, but I just couldn't muster up the motivation.

    I totally agree with you - I don't think the book is dead at all. How many people went to the National Book Festival and other book festivals around the country last weekend? How many people read and write book blogs on a daily basis? Sure, the book world is changing, but that's nothing new. Just because one bookstore crashed and burned doesn't mean books are doomed. I see evidence to the contrary every day.

    So I second you - well done, Library of Congress.


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