Update From the Lit Director Desk: Summer Begins the Countdown

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Reading in the wild.


Here we are, in the thick of it. The fireworks have popped and sizzled. The vacation days are marked on the calendar. The warm weather reading lists pile on top of each other in our Twitter feeds (and in our beach bags). It is summer, big summer, heavy summer. In Austin, where our office is located, thermometers are hitting the hundred-plus mark on a daily basis. For the crew here at Texas Book Festival, the rising heat means the revving of Festival life. Our author line up is just about finalized. The abstract plans we’ve been lobbing back and forth are starting to hit concrete logistics. We have maps, we have spreadsheets, we have a few short months to pull it all together.

The countdown has begun. The Festival Weekend is in our sights. November 4-5 will be here before we know it.

We have a number of new ideas and initiatives in the cooker. As we gather our momentum and commence Operation 2017 Texas Book Festival, we thought we’d offer a quick look at what we’re working on as the summer months burn on and what you have to look forward to at this year’s Fest.

Returning This Year

Everything you love! Authors, book signings, exhibitors, Lit Crawl, the Music Tent, tens of thousands of fellow book lovers. We’re making it all happen in TBF style (and with brand new banners featuring our new TBF logo; yes, we have to reprint ALL of our banners this year).

We’re excited to bring back our popular YA HQ tent, which was a new addition in 2016 and proved to be a big hit. The support YA fans showed the authors in the YA HQ Tent last year was noticed by publishers, who are sending us some of the very best YA authors to meet Texas fans this year. I can’t wait to share the full, star-studded list! (We’ve already announced #1 New York Times bestselling author Angie Thomas !!! )

This year we’ll also once again have use of the House Chamber inside of the Capitol building. (The House Chamber was under renovation last year.) We’re grateful for this opportunity to present authors in a unique and historic venue and to invite Festival goers to experience this space in a way that celebrates literature and our community of book lovers.

New Thing We Can’t Tell You About Yet

But we will soon! We’re working out the details of a top secret author appearance that will reach readers in Texas and beyond. Stay tuned for news….

New Things We Can Tell You A Little Bit About

We’ve been brainstorming new and innovative ways to introduce you to authors at the Festival. We want y’all to have a good time and we also want to provide authors with multiple opportunities to interact with readers. This way, if you miss a panel, you don’t have to miss the author entirely.

To that end, we’re putting the finishing touches on what we’re dubbing The TBF Speakeasy, a venue inside a local craft cocktail bar where writers and poets appearing on panels throughout the Festival will stop by and perform their work. Festival goers twenty-one years of age and older can relax with a glass of wine or mid-afternoon martini while enjoying the readings. Good times!

Another new concept we’ll try this year is a special sneak peek session featuring authors publishing books in 2018. We’re carefully selecting a handful of authors whose books should be on your radar NOW. An RSVP will be required, as space will be limited. Keep your eyes open for more info. If you get in, tell your friends! Word of mouth recommendation is the best way to support an author (along with buying a book, of course).


One of the biggest additions to the Festival this year, and one which I am particularly excited to launch, is our brand new Next Chapter Tent, an outdoor tent dedicated to middle grade author sessions.

Middle grade (chapter book) authors have become very popular at the Festival. Last year, many of those author sessions, traditionally held in rooms inside the Capitol building, were filled to capacity. In order to ensure that as many young readers as possible have access to these talks, we decided to establish a tent right in the center of the Festival that has a higher seating capacity than those Capitol rooms and has plenty of standing room. The Next Chapter Tent will be located right on Congress Avenue, in between our Read Me A Story and YA HQ tents.

It’s also important to us to make traveling the Festival footprint easier on families who may have little ones of varying ages and at different stages of reading. We hope that putting our middle grade and picture book authors close to one another will create a more relaxing, enjoyable and convenient Festival experience for families.

Less is More

Another big change we’re working on in 2017 is scaling back the number of authors at the Festival. Over the years, as so many tremendous writers have risen to attention and we’ve fallen in love with so many hundreds of books, the Texas Book Festival has grown from an annual gathering of 225-250 authors to one of more than 300. While we’ve been honored to host so many notable authors each year, we have heard from festival goers that two days isn’t quite enough time to hear and meet this many authors. Our goal this year is to bring together 250-275 authors. This is by no means an easy feat. We love all the books. All of them.


What kind of literary citizen would I be if I didn’t offer up a few strong recommendations for your reading life this summer? In no particular order, please head to your local library or closest bookstore and check out the following:

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli

Goodbye Vitman by Rachel Khong

Stay Informed!

Stay up to date with everything we have in the pipeline this year. Sign up for our newsletter and alerts.

For announcements, book recommendations, and all manner of book love, you can follow TBF on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Happy reading! Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!