What to do when in the presence of your personal heroes (and how to avoid the cost and wait)?
September 25, 2009 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Book festivals? National Book Festival? What to expect?

I'm attending the National Book Festival in DC tomorrow. I've never been to a book festival before. For those who have, can you tell me whether I'm permitted to bring my own older copies of the books I'd like the authors to sign or do I have to buy the books new at the festival? Also, how do I stay on the right side of faithful reader/scary stalker reader? There is one author in particular whose books I greatly admire but I don't want to annoy him through effusive gushing. For those who have been to this particular festival, will I have to stand in line for each author whose signature I want or is it just one big line, and, of course, how long can I plan on waiting in said line(s)? Thanks much!
posted by notcomputersavvy06 to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
Best answer: I went to the first, and have been around the others. Based on that experience, yes, you'll have to wait in line for signatures, one for each author. Yes, you can bring your own copy to get signed. Not sure how long the waits are--it's a big festival, and it looks to be nice weather tomorrow, so, what 30 minutes or more? There are going to be thousands of people there, so it's not likely you'll be the creepiest person, though Marc Brown got a little freaked out at the grabby hordes after his speech--he'd drawn a bunch of Arthur portraits on a flip chart, and was handing out the sheets. Most of the people working there are Library of Congress employees, some on the clock, some volunteering. Treat them nicely and you'll be treated the same.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:16 PM on September 25, 2009

Best answer: I've been to a few, but most of my experience at them has been waiting in line for Neil Gaiman, which is an entirely different thing that anything else that goes on there (if he comes back, I am not doing it again. I only did it last year as a favor to a friend).

Popular authors will have longer lines. Lesser-known authors will sometimes have little to no line. Signings are usually 1-hour blocks and usually don't go over that time (the tents get used by other authors). Depending on the schedule, you may not be able to get in line too much beforehand, but you could probably scope out the area and hang around to wait for the changeover.

You can very much bring your own books, but depending on the popularity of the author, they may only be signing one. You'll probably get a few seconds with the author while he/she signs your book.

The authors also do readings/presentations. Those tents can sometimes be crowded. Authors sometimes linger around and for the most part, it's probably cool to go talk to them if you don't try to monopolize there time (you know, if you stop and go "Hey, I really like your work" that's cool. Much more than that ... well, it depends).

It's a pretty well-organized event and lots of fun. I'd be checking it out if I wasn't spending all weekend at Small Press Expo.
posted by darksong at 9:13 PM on September 25, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks very much! You were both very helpful. Now -- off to the festival! Glad to know John Irving probably won't be freaked out by my interpretative dance montage of his books.
posted by notcomputersavvy06 at 6:02 AM on September 26, 2009

How'd it go?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:43 AM on September 28, 2009

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