Books Mar 20, 2013 at 4:00 am

With APRIL, Seattle Gets the Quality Book Festival It Deserves

Tara Atkinson and Willie Fitzgerald. Kelly O


It's Heather Christle, not Heather Christie
@1: We'll fix that. Thank you! Apologies to Heather Christle. I spelled it right elsewhere in the paper this week, but fucked it up here.
I miss Seattle.
You do a good job showcasing the city, bookishness and APRIL, Paul.
Paul, quite frankly, this oddly named so-called "book festival" sounds provincial for a city supposedly as literate as Seattle's reputation would have one believe. How do you explain that Portland has been able to support "Wordstock", an incredibly well-organized festival, for a number of years now? San Francisco has Litquake, and numerous cities around the country have festivals that put Seattle to shame. Part of me believes that Seattle has some weird social disorder that is fearful of coming together to accomplish what could be a truly wonderful event every year. I do enjoy your writing, and I appreciate it that you even bring up this troubling topic. Thanks, Scott W.
Hi Scott W,

Thanks for asking!

Both those festivals have been going on for a really long time, since the days when the publishing industry was willing to fork out thousands on thousands of dollars to send talent to festivals around the country. I honestly think it would be impossible to start that size and scale of a festival now, and that the worthy older festivals are sort-of grandfathered in to promotions budgets. And frankly, if I had to choose between one really good book festival a year or the wide selection of readings we have here all year round, I would choose the latter without a second's hesitation.

I don't know what the readings scene is like in San Francisco, but I know that Portland doesn't have the kind of weekly readings calendar that Seattle does. In any week in our readings calendar, we've got big-name authors coming to Seattle from all around the world. Nobody on the west coast can touch the combined readings calendars that University Book Store and Elliott Bay Book Company produce on a monthly basis. A city like Miami, to bring up another nationally recognized book festival, has to get all their literary events in one huge gulp, whereas Seattle spreads things out all year long.

So when you've got those kind of events, what do you do with a festival? You make your festival into a celebration of what is local, and what is good, and what is emerging. I don't much care what the rest of the country thinks about Seattle's book festival. We have, and we have some of the best bookstores in the country, if not the world. We're already on the literary map. We should instead celebrate what we've got, and that's what APRIL is doing.
Hi Paul,

There is nobody in Seattle who is more proud of the great job done by Elliott Bay and University Bookstore , (And also Third Place Books), than myself! But I refuse to accept that it has to be an either/or situation that Seattle should accept the lack of a proper book festival because we have such wonderful bookstore programs.

You make a good point about the financial difficulties inherent in creating such a festival, but I can imagine that someday there will arise a visionary or two who has the same passion I do to see the dream of a Seattle Book Festival come to fruition again! This may sound strange, but there is a hole in my literary heart that yearns for such a festival to return to our fair city, and I refuse to accept that I'm the only one who feels this way.

I must say, I'm surprised that you're unaware of the author event/bookstore scene in San Francisco?!! For starters, there's Book Passage, Booksmith, Books, Inc., Copperfield's, and City Lights, and many, many more. I have found myself going to the City by the Bay on more than one occassion to just hear an author who doesn't come here! Again, I fully appreciate the literary scene in Seattle, and I appreciate your giving me this opportunity to share something I have such strong feelings about. But Paul, do you think you could at least acknowledge how satisfyng it would be someday for those of us excited about the inherent joy in attending The Seattle Book Festival?

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