August 04, 2008
By David Darlington
Recently, the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and First Lady Laura Bush announced the eighth annual National Book Festival, to be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on September 27, 2008. Nearly 70 authors will be on hand to talk to audiences, answer questions, and sign books. A preliminary list is available here, and more authors will be added as the event draws near. Bancroft and John H. Dunning prize winner Gordon S. Wood of Brown University will be one of the historians presenting at the “History & Biography” pavilion.
Each pavilion at the National Book Festival is a large tent set up on the Mall where authors present their latest work. There are pavilions for the genres of Children, Teens & Children, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Home & Family, and Poetry. The Library of Congress maintains a pavilion as well, where attendees can interact with some of the items in the library’s collection and learn about its mission. State historical and library societies provide local flavor in the “Pavilion of the States.” There are also pavilions for book sales, and large booths set up for book signings during certain hours. Based on personal experience, I recommend that those interested in attending check out the author schedule on the Book Festival web site beforehand, when it is made available, to plan their visit, so as to not miss any good lectures or signings. The typical author talk lasts only a half hour, so there is a lot that can be experienced.
The technologically-minded may want to listen to the Library of Congress’s podcast interviews with some of the authors who will be present at the 2008 National Book Festival. See also coverage of last year’s event from AHA Today.