Some thoughts on the National Book Festival

Last year my boyfriend and I attended the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, hosted by the Library of Congress.  We enjoyed it considerably, despite the rain, and were excited to learn about and have access to new authors.

I wasn’t as happy with this year’s festival.  The SF/F authors were spread too far apart in the day, and more than 90% of the books for sale before the signings were available only in hardcover.  Last year, even though it was still mostly hardcover, there was a little bit more of a selection that varied in price.  They also tended to carry some of each author’s older titles.  This year they didn’t.  It was the new release or nothing.

It was a nice day, but as we wandered around, none of the talks really caught our attention.  Given the circumstances, we decided that our afternoon would be much better spent in Barnes & Noble sipping pumpkin spice lattes and perusing the sci-fi/fantasy section.  My boyfriend picked up one of Larry Niven’s Fleet of Planets books, and I picked up the second book in N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.  Now, off to do homework and then to read!

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13 comments

  1. This was my first year at the National Book Festival. I will say, that I thought the speakers where much better on Saturday than on Sunday. Also the book buying tent ran out of books way too quickly!

    1. I didn’t go on Saturday, just today, which might have been part of the problem. Last year the book buying tent had a lot more of a selection; this time it seemed rather empty, and when I got there they had almost no paperbacks. There were only five different books on the SF/F/graphic novels table. It was still nice to go, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.

      One thing that I was happy about though is that the Library of Congress pavilion was giving out a paper on Fair Use, which is something I’ve seen come up a lot on blogs lately.

  2. Not sure if stuff isn’t staying in print very long, or if Publishers are only providing copies of the new releases, but I’ve noticed that same thing at events – it’s the newest release, or nothing. that’s great that some author you’ve heard a ton about is selling the 3rd book in a series. would be even better if they also had copies of the earlier books in the seires for me to spend my $ on!

    1. Exactly! And it’s not as if the older books are out of print… Vernor Vinge was there doing a signing, and I had wanted to buy one of his books and get it signed, but the book they had for sale was later in a series that I hadn’t started yet. I saw the earlier books in the series at the B&N that I went to after the festival. And since B&N was technically running the sales tent, it really makes me wonder, especially since last year when Toni Morrison was there they had ALL of her books, and they were in paperback. It was especially annoying since I went with the intention of buying something.

      Oh well though… if they would have had an awesome selection then I wouldn’t have felt compelled to go buy the next N. K. Jemisin, which I’m sure that I’ll enjoy tremendously. There’s always a silver lining.

  3. That’s a shame! I really wanted to go this year, but I couldn’t scrape up enough money and besides, there were only a couple authors I was truly excited about anyways.

    But YAY for N.K. Jemisin’s books! She doesn’t get nearly as much reader-love as she deserves 🙂

    1. I feel like a bad book blogger/librarian when I say that I was disappointed in it, but oh well. I expected more based on my experience last year.

      I’m quite excited about the N.K. Jemisin though! She’s such a fantastic writer, and I love that her fantasy worlds are so far outside the cultural norm found in most books of the genre.

  4. A pumpkin spiced latte sounds nice. Too bad the fair was a disappointment, but I’m glad you were able to salvage the day. Barnes & Noble has come to my rescue on many rainy afternoons.

  5. Too bad about the National Book Festival. I almost went this year, but there were only a few authors I really wanted to see, and two of them were speaking at the same time. It just didn’t seem worth the drive. Glad to hear you made the most out of your day anyway!

    1. It might also have been better if I had gotten there earlier; I missed Lois Bujold, and after that there weren’t that many speakers that seemed interesting throughout the rest of the afternoon. Oh well… there’s always next year. 🙂