Why you should attend a book festival
by Samantha Gray
As a book lover writing to a community of book lovers, I feel compelled to sing songs of praise when it comes to book festivals. I know what you’re thinking: book festivals? What year is it?
The idea of a book festival might seem a bit antiquated to you, and to a certain extend I don’t blame you, reader. We live in an age where you can download virtually any book to a tablet for your immediate enjoyment. If you aren’t enthusiastic about eReading, there’s no end to the number of books you can purchase from online retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you just want to pick out a good book, these are perfectly suitable ways to do so.
A book festival is about the community of people who love everything about reading. It’s a time for readers and authors to gather and celebrate what it means to write words on paper, to express thoughts and emotions to an unknown readership. A book festival is an experience, and one that I can’t recommend enough for dedicated readers and writers who’ve never attending one.
Allow me to make my case further.
Sitting in on readings
One thing I would recommend to anyone attending a book festival is to check out a reading. It doesn’t even matter if you know the author whose reading their material or not—just the experience of witnessing prose in action is something every writer and reader should witness. I’ve sat in on any number of readings, and I can’t express how amazing it is to listen to authors read their own stories aloud and talk about the material afterwards.
The readings at a book festival are perhaps the best example of the communal environment encouraged there. Authors are eager to share their work with readers, and readers are just as excited to listen in as a group. It’s a rare moment when reading is transformed from a solitary activity to a group. If you do anything at a book festival, definitely attend a reading.
Network with fellow readers and writers
Book festivals are a great venue for meeting new people, for both social and professional reasons. Casual readers will meet fellow fans of an author’s work—it’s a great chance to talk about some of your favorite novels, memoires, and stories among people who actually know and understand the material. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to make friends at a book festival, despite the stereotype that most serious readers are introverts.
For amateur and serious writers alike, a book festival is the ideal networking opportunity. Powerful authors, important members of the literary press, and publishing officials are just some of the clientele that you can expect to encounter at a book festival. If you’ve ever wanted to chat with some powerful industry professionals, now is the time to do it.
Get a chance to meet your favorite authors
Of course I can’t talk about book festivals without discussing the experience of meeting an author. Many authors—especially the more famous ones—will hold book signings, lectures, and general meet and greets so that they can meet fans. Indeed, book festivals offer a one of a kind experience for readers to meet their favorite authors, and I can’t recommend it enough. You’ll never forget the time that you got to chat with your favorite author, and you’ll probably have a picture or a signature to prove it!