Update From the Lit Director Desk

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As summer marches along and we’re wading knee-deep into 2o16 Festival prep, I thought it might be a good time for an update. So much is being planned for this year’s Fest, happening November 5 and 6 (first rule of festival life: never pass up an opportunity to mention the dates), that it seems the only real way to communicate it all is to start early, blog often, and wear the red fez. (Old BookPeople trick.)

First of all, I want everyone one to know that both sets of pigeons on the Driskill window ledges facing our office have successfully hatched their eggs. We’ve been watching (or refusing to watch) the feeding of the young for over a week now. They’re growing their feathers and pumping up their little chests. Circle of life, etc. We’re thrilled these kids have made it and didn’t suffer the same egg-over-the-ledge fate as their predecessors. We’ll try to record video of their first flight.

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In other news: back in June, we revealed a sneak peek of sixteen authors in this year’s lineup. Putting together a list – any list – is a painstaking process. I went ’round and ’round about it, pestering Claire (operations), Kendall (outreach) and Hanna (logistics and lit coordinator) for reassurance at least eight thousand times. “Is this a good list? What do you think? Should I swap this author for that one? No? Are you sure? Am I sure? Where’s my fez?” My cover as cool, calm Lit Director was totally blown. I wanted our sneak peek list to provide an indication of where we’re headed as a Festival and what we’re interested in as a team of avid, engaged readers and Festival staffers: different voices, multiple genres, books we love and are excited to share, authors we can’t wait to have you meet.

Of course, a much longer list is to come. Mark your calendars and set your Google reminders for September 15, when we’ll announce our full lineup for the 2016 Texas Book Festival (happening November 5 and 6 here in beautiful, sunny, pigeon-progeny-prosperous downtown Austin).

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A book festival is about more than its lineup, of course, its about the conversations it creates and the discussions it fosters, both in the festival sessions and beyond. Right now, we’re working on putting together conversations about the big issues. Last week I attended KLRU’s ATX Together civic summit and listened as community members came together in the wake of the deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the five officers in Dallas to discuss issues of civil rights, challenges to unity, and positive effort for change here in Austin. The opinions, ideas and concerns shared that night have fueled the ongoing discussions we’ve been having here about putting together sessions that deal not only with these topics on a national level, but specifically here in Austin and Texas. Thanks so much to KLRU for putting this on and bringing people together, y’all did a fabulous job. (PS – if you  missed the summit, you can join the ongoing conversation at this ATX Together Facebook group set up by KLRU.) More to come as we continue to develop this year’s programming, stay tuned.





In addition to the big conversations, we’ve also been thinking about ways to improve the overall Festival experience for attendees. One of the big pieces of feedback we’ve heard is that festival goers wish it was faster and easier to get a book signed and meet an author after a session. In response, this year, we trying out two big things:

1. We’re adding book sales and authors signings to select indoor venues (not including the Capitol building).

This means that, if you’re seeing an author at Central Presbyterian Church or the Paramount Theater, for instance, you’ll be able to buy the author’s book right there instead of walking back to the book sales tent. (Though you should visit the book sales tent and check out all of the books by all of this year’s Festival authors – you never know what great new read you might discover!) When possible, authors will also sign books right there at those venues. Our goal is to save you time so you can make it to more sessions. (Note: on site sales will not possible inside the Capitol or in tents.)

2. For a few select sessions in our biggest venues, we’re going to offer you the chance to pre-order a book and save yourself a seat.

Books pre-ordered for these select sessions will be available to pick up at the venue the day of the session. Basically, for these authors, you’ll be able to buy the book in advance via our website and grab it on your way into the session, then sit down in a seat that’s been saved for you. (We’re reserving some open seating at these sessions, as well.) Afterwards, you and your book can hop right in the signing line. We’re looking at trying this out with three authors this year. If it works, we’ll expand it to more authors next year. (P. S. – These sessions will NOT be Friends Pass sessions.)

More information on these initiatives to come!

And now, because you’ve been kind enough to read this far, here’s your reward:


Hope you’re enjoying your summer reading! Cheers from Texas Book Festival!