BEA vs. Book Festivals

Before leaving for Book Expo America, I received an email from Jill at Rhapsody in Books, who wanted to know about the differences between festivals like the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., and Book Expo America.

She’s full of great ideas, so I took her up on it.

BEA is a publishing industry-sponsored event to talk about the new fall releases, current releases, the state of the publishing industry, and an all around networking event for those in the publishing industry.

Local book festivals, like the one in D.C., are often supported through donations from organizations like newspapers, retailers, etc., and provide a venue through which people can hear authors talk about books, themselves, reading, etc.; meet their favorite authors; and buy books they normally would not have heard of whether new to the market or banging around bookstores for a few months.

I can’t tell you which event to attend or which event is right for you, but I can give you some guideline questions to answer and what I would recommend.

1. Do you want to meet the publicists, authors, publishers, etc., you’ve been working with?

BEA would be your best option for this because there are booths and you can set aside specific times to talk with these people and discuss books, upcoming releases, etc.  However, you can talk with authors for short spurts at book festivals as well, but if you want more one-on-one time, head to BEA.

2.  Interested in publishing trends on the horizon or learning more about e-readers, online publishing, e-publishing, etc.?

BEA will provide you with panels chock full of information, and in some cases, so much information that your head will hurt.  It depends on what you want out of your blog and where you see the future of your blog heading as to whether this information will be useful or important to you.

3.  Do you want to meet your favorite authors, chat with them, get signed books?

Either BEA or book festivals or even author signings can achieve these goals.  Just go with what suits you and your budget most.  If there are authors visiting your area that you love, see them.  If the authors you love don’t visit your area but go to BEA, get on a plane, train, or drive into NYC and see them.

4.  Are you going to get free books? (Someone had to ask it.)

In this case, you would want to attend BEA, rather than a book festival because more than likely you have to pay for the books.

5.  Want to meet with other book bloggers in real life?

Again, this depends on where you live and who you know that lives near you and blogs about books.  If you live in a well populated blogging community, your best option is to meet with them through a meet-up you agree to or at the local book festival because trying to find your blogging buddies in BEA without a plan is like looking for a contact lens beneath a million people’s shoes.

6.  Interested in what the publishing industry is really like?

You’re going to want to be at BEA, especially when tours of the offices are offered and you get to meet with publishing industry staffers to discuss how bloggers fit into the equation or how you can get a better working relationship with publishers.  However, if there is a large group touring these facilities, etc., it may be hard to glean out the information you are looking for specifically unless you have one-on-one time.

Regardless of what avenue you choose, just remember to make the most of these events for you and your blog.  I tend to be in awe of everything and do follow up emails with my questions.  Its good to remain in contact with everyone you meet, even if it is to just say how lovely it was to meet the person.

I attend both formats because I’m interested in the publishing industry and where its going, but I also like celebrating reading, which is what I believe book festivals focus on for the most part.

One drawback for me at BEA every year has been the lack of poetry discussion or promotion.  And since one of my goals for my blog is to raise interest in poetry, my job will be continuous until BEA starts talking poetry, though I was glad to see Graywolf Press in a booth this year and some of their poetry selections.

What are your thoughts on book festivals versus Book Expo America?

National Book Festival 2009

As many of you may have heard, The National Book Festival 2009 commences this weekend–Saturday, Sept. 26.

Mom and I will be going to see the following authors, though there may be some conflicts. . . we’ll work it out.

In the poetry pavilion:

10 to 10:30 AM Julia Glass, a poet
10:30 to 11 AM Valerie Martinez, a poet
11 to 11:30 AM Edward Hirsch, a poet
11:30 to 12 PM Poetry Out Loud
12 to 12:45 PM Kay Ryan, a poet and U.S. Poet Laureate
4:15 to 5 PM Tim O’Brien, author of some of the best Vietnam War literature out there.

In the mystery and thriller pavilion:

12:55 to 1:25 PM James Patterson
2:40 to 3:10 PM George Pelecanos
3:15 to 3:45 PM Lisa Scottoline

In the fiction and fantasy pavilion:

10 to 10:55 AM John Grisham
11 to 11:30 AM Jodi Picoult
2:10 to 2:55 PM John Irving
3 to 3:30 PM Nicolas Sparks

In the teens and children pavilion:

11:45 to 12:15 PM Paula Deen
5 to 5:30 PM Judy Blume

Signings we are thinking about are for the poets; those will be easy since those are separate from the traditional author signings. The other signings, though we may not make these are:

11 to 12 PM James Patterson
11:30 to 12:30 PM George Pelecanos
12 to 1 PM Nicholas Sparks
12:30 to 1:30 PM Jodi Picoult
1 to 2 PM Lisa Scottoline
1 to 2 PM Paula Deen
2:30 to 3:30 PM Tim O’Brien

What authors are on your schedule?

2008 National Book Festival Recap

This year’s 2008 National Book Festival weathered the rain! The day was overcast, but participation was high and the rain didn’t come until near the end of the festival. I wanted to share one comment we heard from tourists as we were leaving. The white tents were set up as pavilions for various genres as usual, closer to the end of the National Mall with the Capitol Building. Bunches of us were headed out of the National Mall and tourists were coming onto the Mall passing by us. A man said to the woman with him, “Hey, what’s that down there? A carnival.” My immediate response without thinking was, “Yes, it’s a carnival for book lovers.”

I want to share with everyone some photos I took and that my husband took of the poets in the Poetry pavilion. We also got a chance to take photos of Neil Gaiman and Tiki Barber as they signed books for other patrons of the festival. I thought I would share them since I’m sure they have fans out there. First, here’s a look at the abundant crowd in the poetry tent; it wasn’t as full as some of the other tents, but this signifies that interest in poetry is not dead.

The first poet we caught up with–since I missed the Poetry Out Loud segment–was the new U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, though her term in that office actually doesn’t start until Oct. 1. I’ll share with you two pictures, one of her being interviewed and one of her signing my book, The Niagara River. It was good to meet a fellow poet who is not into all the hoopla of becoming a top creative writing professor and who is more interested in just writing poetry and possibly improving the literacy of our country.

Traditionally, poet laureates have hailed from Ivy League schools and have careers teaching creative writing graduate degrees, but Ryan teaches at a community college and is engaged in improving literacy. She even commented about how her being an outsider may have helped her become Poet Laureate because there is a “romanticized” notion of the outsider in the United States. Moreover, she talked about how she came to poetry later on as a student and never believed herself to be a writer until a cross-country biking trip. In Colorado, she saw the Rockies and answered the question: Do you enjoy writing? And her answer was yes. She writes poems that are available to the reader in spite of their double meanings, allowing readers to see not only a surface meaning, but a deeper, emotional meaning as well. She is also a fan of Emily Dickinson, though she came to her through reverse psychology thanks to one of her teachers. Dickinson is one of my favorite poets as well.

A great many of her poems are short because she likes them that way. But she says that while they are small on the outside, there is much more beneath the surface. I found her to be witty and engaging, and I look forward to her tenure as U.S. Poet Laureate, though she does not have any specific plans in mind other than touting the need for 100 percent in funding for public libraries and their branches so that they can be open 7 days per week and longer hours.

One of the next poets we listened to was Eavan Boland who is from Ireland, though she lives in California and teaches at Stanford University. She focuses a great deal of her poetry on the differences between history and the past, where history is the recorded events and the past is something deeper and more nuanced. One of the poems she read, “Quarantine,” examined Ireland in 1847 at the time of the famine, but it also discussed the deep love between a man and his wife who died during the famine. Even with his last breath he held his wife’s feet to warm them with the remaining body heat he had. Many of the poems she read discussed Ireland at the time of the famine and the nuanced past of that time period. She was equally engaging. I just may have to pick up one of her volumes for review.

Molly Peacock reminded me of school teachers I had in high school because she was approachable and ready to answer your questions. She read quite a few poems and engaged the audience with her wit. Another poet I should probably add to my TBR pile. I have quite a few photos of her speaking and answering questions, but I think this photo is the most dignified. She’s an expressive poet and very animated. Her eyes grow wide and her lips will form a nice round O in many cases, but I don’t think those would make for very flattering pictures.

The final poet we heard before we headed back home was Michael Lind, whom the moderator called a man of letters, which I presume means he is well educated, one quite a few awards, and has accomplished a great deal in his given profession. In this case, he has been a columnist, a novelist, and a poet. I purchased his book, Parallel Lives, at the festival because the lines in his poems caught my attention, though he is a very sedate reader compared to the other poets we heard. I would almost say that I prefer to read his verse on paper than to hear him speak. I do enjoy his verse because it often does touch upon recent events that may be forgotten as the next horrific or phenomenal effort takes its place in the media headlines.

Finally, here is Neil Gaiman—I had to keep you fans reading somehow–the book sale tent only had a limited number of his latest book, which is not even out in stores yet. Those books went fast, and his line was extensive. I’m not sure that everyone got to meet him or get their book signed. But the lines were moving fast, so you never know. He is not at all what I pictured.

As for Tiki Barber, who is a former New York Giants football player and wrote a children’s book, his line was longer. However, I am quite sure that some of the people in his line were having NFL memorabilia signed and not necessarily his book. I know that a ton of kids and parents were lined up alongside him as I was taking his photo. We just wanted a close up shot of him since we had nothing for him to sign.

Overall, you can see I really did not spend much time outside of the Poetry Pavilion. I did that for two reasons, one I was pressed for time and the Poetry Pavilion was the furthest one and two I love poetry! I was surprised by the number of people in the audience at the Poetry Pavilion, but I also was pleased by the turnout. The Poetry Pavilion was co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and many of their personnel introduced the poets scheduled to read and they had a table full of reading guides for not only famous poets and writers, but also information about Poetry Out Loud. I was equally pleased that the hearing impaired could enjoy the poems as well with the help of sign language experts.

I would love to hear from anyone else who attended the festival and what events and authors they saw and what they thought. I think it would be great to hear about the other Pavilions’ events as well. Feel like sharing, leave a comment.

For other experiences at the 2008 National Book Festival:
The Literate Housewife
DC Reflections
Jason’s View From D.C.
Sarah Moffett
Biblio’s Bloggins
S. Krishna’s Books

2008 National Book Festival and Anne Patchett

The 2008 National Book Festival will be held in Washington, D.C., this weekend–Sept. 27 between 10 AM and 5:30 PM. More than 70 authors are expected to attend the Book Fest, ranging from Salman Rushdie to former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.

Each year the Library of Congress gathers some of the best authors out there to bring their books and their stories to D.C. to celebrate the joys of reading. I’ve met Tim O’Brien, Anita Shreve, and many others when I have attended this event. Not only can you get autographs of their latest books, but most authors are willing to sign older copies as well.

Authors will be broken down by Pavilion Genre and will have a scheduled time to speak in that pavilion, so check out the schedule here. I’m excited because our new Poet Laureate Kay Ryan will be there along with First Lady Laura Bush.

If you cannot attend the festival, why not spend the day on the 2008 National Book Festival website listening to podcasts from some of the authors attending the Book Fest?

Additionally, for those of you who have read Run by Anne Patchett, Book Club Girl is hosting a call in show about the book with the author.

Here’s the link to the audio show online, sign up and join in the discussion.

Ms. Patchett will be available to answer questions through the call in number: 347-945-6149. The show starts at 7 PM EST.

Our New Poet Laureate

Kay Ryan is the latest Poet Laureate announced by the Library of Congress. She is the 16th Poet Laureate, and I am thrilled that our new poet laureate has experienced a calm and quiet career. It’s time for her to come out into the light and inspire budding poets and bring poetry to the forefront of the literary world.

I often wondered what the purpose of the Poet Laureate is, but according to Wikipedia, the poet laureate is called upon to write poems for state occasions and attend government-sponsored functions, like the Washington D.C. Book Festival this September.

Some familiar names will be at this year’s book festival: Tiki Barber from the NFL, Dionne Warwick, Bob Schieffer, Cokie Roberts, and Neil Gaiman.

I hope that with each new poet laureate, poetry garners greater standing in the literary community. Unfortunately, it does not look like any other poets will be attending the D.C. Book Festival except Kay Ryan.