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The Northwest Bookfest 2011

November 1, 2011

This ain't no writers' conference

I want to make a couple observations about this October’s Northwest Bookfest, which was held for three days in Kirkland, WA, where, happily, it will return in 2012. 

Unlike the businesslike intensity of a writers’ conference, the bookfest truly is a festive thing—a celebration of books and the folks who read them.  Spread across Kirkland’s Parkplace, from the Performance center, through the Community Center, across the park to Parkplace Books (an independent bookstore—remember those?), 2500 readers and 125 celebrity writers talked, munched, and mingled for three extraordinary days.  The carnival atmosphere was enhanced by the presence of canvas tents snaking there way between the venues like a Persian Bazaar where 74 vendors hawked everything from publishing and PR services to roasted meat.  Musicians and face painting combined to say, this ain’t no writers’ conference, buckaroo.

Inside the venues, the Bookfest operated on two levels—one for writers and one for readers.  Readers chose from a smorgasbord of author panels presented concurrently, while writers could pick from 74 workshops, 3 to 4 of which were offered hourly.  The downside to having so much going on simultaneously is that you invariably find yourself desirous of being in two places–or three–at once.  The upside is that all the workshops and many of the panel discussions were fairly intimate, allowing for a lot of interaction between readers and writers, or writers and publishing professionals.  In an industry that seems to be reinventing itself every twenty minutes, it was nice to get face-to-face with the people who are in the middle of it.

I learned a lot, had a great time, and can’t wait for next year.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. huskerindc permalink
    November 23, 2011 9:13 pm

    Isn’t it about your birthday now, Hanson? Happy 5_! And happy Thanksgiving. The wiseass from DC.

    • November 23, 2011 10:39 pm

      Dear Wiseass,

      Thank you. Yes, I’m 29 again.

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