The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books April 24-25 2010 Report

By Susan Pi, Heyday Books

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (LATFOB) has been held at the UCLA campus every year, and Heyday has been a part of this scene, since 1996. The festival has grown phenomenally, attracting more than 130,000 book lovers annually. As you can imagine, things can get a bit crowded but LATFOB has always been hyper organized with dedicated and knowledgeable staff and volunteers roaming the campus. Also a plus: enthusiastic volunteers willing to help you move boxes of books to and from your booth!

This year’s festival seemed to have drawn a bigger crowd as our Heyday booth was kept quite busy for the entire two days. Our biggest seller was A California Bestiary by Rebecca Solnit and Mona Caron. As the kick off piece to the Oakland Zoo’s ambitious native California animal exhibit and rehabilitation center, A California Bestiary was inspired by medieval bestiaries and features twelve different native California animals. San Francisco best-selling author Rebecca Solnit, who the New York Times calls “the kind of rugged, off-road public intellectual America doesn’t produce often enough” was seen roaming the festival after her panel on Haiti.

J. Michael Walker also attracted a crowd of fans during his book signing on Sunday. Well-known in southern California, his book is an artist’s homage to everyday Angelenos and is the culmination of his quest to find and document every “saint-street” in L.A. All the Saints of the City of the Angel was featured in a live on-site interview with Andrew Tonkovich on KPFK’s Bibliocracy.

Other LATFOB Highlights:
Did you miss the conversation between McSweeneys’ Dave Eggers and L.A. Times Book Editor David Ulin? “It’s the best time in the history of the printed word to be a publisher or a writer,” declared Eggers. Read a summary of the event here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2010/04/who-says-print-isnt-dead-dave-eggers-of-course.html

Of course, the cooking stage also generated a lot of excitement with the appearance of Alicia Silverstone, “Top Chef” contestants, Alice Waters, and Tricia Yearwood as these celebrity chefs demonstrated recipes or talked about the inspiration behind their cookbooks.

The Hero Complex featured a bevy of comic books, graphic novel, and manga publishers. The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes even awarded their very first Graphic Novel Prize to David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp.

For those of you who were wondering what was causing the traffic jam on the Janss Steps on Saturday, let’s just say it involved a lot of umbrellas. Here’s a video of the flash mob in case you missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9Somjq2gLs

Something new this year at the LATFOB was a mobile scavenger hunt. Over 3,000 players put on their sleuthing hats and sent in more than 65,000 text messages all in the hopes of winning an Apple iPad. Check out SCVNGR’s website for more information about the company that organized it all: http://www.scvngr.com

It was great to see other northern California book publishers there including AK Press, Ulysses Press, and Chronicle Books (to name only a few!). Everyone’s spirit was high and we were all glad to feel the constant cool breeze blow across the UCLA campus instead of the usual scorching hot weather. Heyday will definitely be back next year so I hope we’ll see you there!

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