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How Can Book Festivals Integrate E-books Into Their Events?

What are the “best practices” for book festivals to work with e-books?

By Edward Nawotka

It’s summer (in the northern hemisphere) and winter (in the southern hemisphere) — the season of the book festivals is upon us, as discussed in today’s feature story.

hay festival photo by Finn Beales

Hay Festival, photo by Finn Beales

It seems that across much of the developed world nearly every community has a book festival or two on its calendar throughout the year. If there’s proof that people are committed to books and reading, the popularity of book festivals is it.

As someone who spent a year managing the literary side of a book festival — in my case, the 2004 Texas Book Festival in Austin — I can attest to the tremendous work that goes into putting such an event together. In the year I organized the TBF, we had more than 200 authors across a variety of categories, from politics to cooking, and the logistics alone were a full time job (not to mention it was taking place a week before the hotly contested US presidential election).

Many festivals have arrangements with local booksellers to sell books on site. In the case of the Texas Book Festival we had a partnership with Barnes & Noble to be the official bookseller, with a percentage of their sales going back into the coffers of the Festival, which was then donated as charity to the Texas Public Library system. More recently, the Texas Book Festival has been working with a local Austin e-book conversion and distribution company LibreDigital to offer “previews” of featured author’s books on its web site.

Today, as e-books grow in popularity, book festivals will be forced to confront the fact that it may often be easier for readers to quickly download a copy of a title they are interested in reading, rather than perhaps waiting in line to pay a higher price for a hardcover book. That is, of course, only the case for those readers who want to forgo having their book signed — which is one of the big appeals of book fairs.

That said, what are the “best practices” for book festivals to work with e-books? How can book festivals integrate “e” into the mix of titles on offer and, generally speaking, the attractions?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted June 8, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I think that authors could print postcards with their book covers, author photos, and a QR Code for a discount or supplemental matrials to pass out at book fairs. f course they can also sign the postcard!For book fairs, speaking events, and conferences, authors can print postcards with their book covers, author photo, and maybe even a QR code for a discount or supplemental materials. Of course authors can also autograph the postcard, something I do all the time when speaking at events where people already have the book, but have forgotten to bring it. Seems to make them happy!

  2. Posted June 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    That’s a good question. I know as an author, I let people know my books are available for download on every piece of promotional media we use (flyers, postcards, etc). I’ll be doing that this weekend at a book festival in Houston this weekend.

  3. Posted June 9, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I think ebooks will work well with book festivals. I’ve put my thoughts here:
    http://www.booksarecool.com/2011/book-festivals-salons-du-livres-and-e-books/

  4. Posted June 11, 2011 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Great to think about this right now. Books are going to soon be the vinyl of the music industry, and yes, records do still exist but fairs are frequented by few.
    Guess booksellers could have digital displays and gadgets to play with meaning they pay less on the stand space and get their sales online.
    Event organisers will need to make up on the capital through extra online sponsorship and opening up to other types of industry. Rather than just having publisher stands, developers etc could also have the opportunity to share their services. By having discreet themes for events, the focus would still remain on the content rather than the mode of delivery.

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