This year, the National Book Festival was inside at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. to save the grass on the mall. It was on one day, Saturday, instead of two, Saturday and Sunday, and it was mobbed. Thousands came. People nearly filled the author pavilions with 900 or 1000 seats to hear their favorite speakers, and joined long lines to have their books signed. According to the Washington Post today (firstname.lastname@example.org), there were standing-room-only crowds to hear former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Georgia Democratic and iconic Civil Rights leader Rep. John Lewis. E. L. Doctorow (winner of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, The PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Pulitzer Prize) and Alice McDermott (winner of the American Book Award and the National Book Award for Fiction) drew large crowds. Kids thronged their pavilion to hear David Pikey, author of the Captain Underpants series. They thronged to the kids’ area where they found their own books, life size puppets to give them a hug, and PBS signs to hold for their own personal photo ops. I found one that fitted my character Lori, in Canoedling in Cleveland, to a T. Lori’s a “brain.”
Long lines are not for me, but I was truly impressed by the stamina of others.
Here I am, checking out the competition and trends at the Teens book table.
And here, taking a gander at E. L Doctorow’s new novel, Andrew’s Brain.