A little Decatur Book Festival Trivia for you this morning.
If you’re like me and love the Decatur Book Festival, but aren’t necessarily a connoisseur of these bound word extravaganzas, you may also have wondered, if Decatur is the largest INDEPENDENT festival, what are the largest overall regardless of dependence?
I posed this question to DBF self-described crackpot Daren Wang, who replied..
The other three are LA Times, Miami, and the National. We’re probably tied for 4th with Printers Row. [I added the links]
Those three are owned and operated by the Tribune Company, Miami Dade College, and the Federal Government, respectively. That’s why we call ourselves the largest independent–we’re just a couple of crackpots with an idea.
LA and Miami are both in the 150,000 to 200,000 range. I’m not sure about National, but that is a one day event on the mall in Washington.
While “largest independent book festival” is certainly a better sound-bite than “fourth largest book festival in the country”, I think showing that little ol’ Decatur lags behind only three massive city festivals is actually more impressive and really demonstrates how successful this fledgling festival has become in only 3 years.
The Decatur Book Festival is using the web in hopes of attracting literary rock star Neil Gaiman to the festival this summer.
Jump over to the Decatur Book Festival website and click the DEMAND button under the pic of Gaiman to support the effort. You’ll have to put in an email address to complete the process, but its all quite quick and easy.
Currently there are 35 demands for Gaiman. I’m sure we can do better than that!
Photo courtesy of the NY Times
The “Pioneer Valley” that runs through central Massachusetts could portend the future of Decatur. Aside from sharing certain demographic attributes with our city, this string of towns along the Connecticut River Valley, boasts one of the largest concentrations of authors in the nation.
An article from today’s New York Times profiles this “author-saturated, book-cherishing, literature-celebrating” mecca, where you can’t go a couple miles without tripping over a book reading or festival at a local book shop or venue.
Looking like a matured Decatur, the area is rife with intriguingly-themed book festivals throughout the year and is saturated with independent book shops. (See the NY Times slideshow of local Pioneer Valley shops here)
So the question remains: can/will Decatur become a southern version of this bookish haven? Will authors continue to migrate to our city limits? Will our book festival continue to see its attendance grow and will local authors continue to replenish the line of speakers at our local shops? Only time will tell. Decatur certainly doesn’t have the rustic 18th and 19th century homes that provide part of the charm of these Northern independents, but the relatively recent emergence of book nooks like Little Shop of Stories and Wordsmiths coupled with the increasingly popular Decatur Book Festival, seems to indicate that Decatur could be well on its way to becoming the central hub for local southern writers.