Seattle Bookfest begins in challenging business climate
Seattle Bookfest, a new event for local authors, booksellers, publishers and readers, began Saturday and continues today in Columbia City.
By Amy Martinez, Seattle Times business reporter
In the past week, a price war has erupted on the Internet over popular new hardcover releases among, Wal-Mart and Target. Amazon declared the Kindle e-reader its best-selling item. And the owner of Elliott Bay Book Co. said the store might move from its longtime home in Pioneer Square partly because of financial difficulties.
So how are mom-and-pop booksellers holding up? It seemed an obvious question at this weekend's Seattle Bookfest, a new event in the Columbia City neighborhood.
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Dean and I took Light Rail to Seattle Bookfest Saturday. The "New" bookfest has a fun funky feel to it. It was located in an old Elementary School (formerly The New School?) in Columbia City. Each little classroom held 3-4 press/bookseller tables. And then there were author readings and panel stages located in the larger gym and auditorium spaces, and in some of the portable buildings outside the school. It was a nice layout in that it divided the crowd up. It felt more intimate, less noisy and oppressive, then when the event was in more of a "big box" "convention center" type of space. But it also felt small: you never could get a sense of the whole extent of the event; and very DIY: handwritten signs taped to hallways and doors. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just different. I think for next year (and I hope there is a next year!) Bookfest needs to have a little bit better signage, perhaps get a few more "big name" out-of-town writers to come out to read, and maybe have a few more panels and/or group/theme readings, as those seemed to be the most popular (my personal favorite: Urban Nature writing, with Lyanda Lynn Haupt of "Crow City" fame, Kathryn True, Maria Dolan, and D Williams).
Some of the books I went home with:
The Circle of Fate, Tara Press (a lovely hand-made silk-screened book from India)
Upgraded to Serious, Heather McHugh
The Dance of No Hard Feelings, Mark Bibbins
Nature in the City, Maria Dolan and Kathryn True
In Love with a Hillside Garden, Ann, Daniel & Benjamin Streissguth
Greening Cities and Growing Communities: Learning from Seattle's Urban Community Gardens, Hou, Johnson and Lawson
Willy and Nilly in NUMBERS UP!, Stephen Mooser
Willy and Nilly in TONS-OF-FUN FROM A-Z, Stephen Mooser (some children's books to palce in the clinic exam rooms, only $1 at the Seattle Library book sale).