There will definitely be better and more comprehensive reports on this past weekend’s L.A. Times Festival of Books at UCLA. I know Naomi Hirahara over on Murderati will probably have a great wrap up later in the week. So I’ll just give a few impressions.
Any writer, either publisher or with the dream of being published (or even if you don’t have that dream), should go to this festival at least once in their life. To see so many readers in the same place at the same time…amazing.
I arrived early on Saturday, around 10:30. As I was by Royce Hall toward the exhibition booths, there was a long line wrapped around the building. This, I found out soon after, was the line for people with tickets to see Frank McCourt speak. As I neared the booths, I came upon a second line, and overheard people saying that it was the stand-by line for the same event. This stand-by line was already over two hundred people long and growing. Royce Hall holds, I believe around 1500 or so. Everyone was so excited to hear an author speak. That was my first impression.
Hundred of booths: booksellers, publishers both large and small, media outlets, author associations, ancillary items (like the portable bed desk). Everything book you could think of. That was impression number two.
As noon approached, the crowds grew larger. It felt almost like going to Disneyland on a busy day – not quite the size of Disneyland but the bodies per square foot were similar. Number three.
And finally – authors, authors everywhere. In panels, at booths and just walking around. Many of the book stores such as L.A.’s own Mystery Bookstore, had multiple authors signing in shifts throughout the day. Number four.
The Mystery Bookstore had anywhere from six to eight authors at all times. I ran into my friend Nathan Walpow there. I met Alexandra Sokoloff there, she and I will be on the same panel at ThrillerFest this summer. I had a great conversation with Jeff Shelby author of Killer Swell and one of the bloggers at First Offenders. Recognized him from his picture and talked to him before he started signing. At other booths I talked to two of the seven members of Murderati: Pari Noskin Taichert at the Sisters in Crime booth and Naomi Hirahara at the Kinokunya Books booth. And I saw so many others.
The one person I was hoping to run into but did not was Sean Doolittle. Sean and I are both former Ugly Town authors now at Bantam Dell. We’ve met before, but I was not able to make it to his signing time at Mystery Bookstore.
The sun was out, the crowd was buoyant and setting was wonderful. It was a celebration of books. What could be better than that?