Saturday, October 24, 2009

Boston Book Festival

I just got back from the Boston Book Festival. What comes to mind first is how well-executed it was for a first time event. I was nervous about there being enough space in panels, especially since it was free and "just show up" instead of even having people RSVP (except for the writing workshops, which I didn't attend). There were certainly a lot of people there, especially for the keynote speech, but I managed to squeeze in every time. I supposed it helped that interesting panels ran concurrently, so people had to decide what to go to. The Old South Church sanctuary was a lovely setting for most of the panels I went to, I didn't go to any in Trinity, which is a little disappointing, because I don't know when else I could get inside Trinity for free!

The panels I attended were; Ties that Bind, Boston Roots, Power of Place, Beyond the Margins, Eat Your Words, and the keynote speech by Orhan Pamuk. The schedule can be found here, if you're interested;

The one I actually enjoyed the most was Beyond the Margins, which I didn't even plan to go to. There were a couple of panels on new media, Amazons, Kindles, the future of books etc, which I didn't get to attend. This was about "transmedia," or using different kinds of media to form a unique "fandom" experience. The presenters were Reif Larsen and Tim Kring. Larsen interested me the most, he discussed his fascination with the stories told by maps and diagrams and how different people read them, which of course ties into his new, and I believe, first published book, The Collected Works of T.S. Spivet. I want to read it now, and I almost bought it, but I had already bought Day After Night by Anita Diamant (who spoke on the Places panel), and I already have plenty of new books I haven't read yet.

Tim Kring is a producer of the TV show Heroes, and he talked about how it isn't just on television, but online, with commentary and interviews, mobile with texts and games, in print with graphic novels and a magazine, and with several alternate websites that tie into the universe. Being a Star Trek geek myself, I can appreciate this sort of engagement. It reminded me how new technology can bring us together, and how change in the industry isn't necessarily a bad thing. Who knows, maybe there'll be more small, indie writers with audiences due to the internet, just like in music? It's already beginning to happen.

I was happy to see representatives of Harvard Bookstore, the Brattle Bookshop, 826 Boston, the Boston Review, and more Boston-based literary organizations present. Thanks to Brigham Ice Cream too, for the free Rocky Road!

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