The 15th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books drew a record-breaking crowd 0f 130,000 to the campus of UCLA over a sunny, cool weekend. The event, which took place on April 24 and 25, included about 275 exhibitors, a drop from previous years made up by an increase of 80 authors, bringing the total to over 400 who signed and discussed their new books.
Henry Winkler, Bret Easton Ellis, David Lynch, Alice Waters, and Buzz Aldrin were among the many celebrities who both appeared on panels and sat in booksellers' booths to meet fans. A very pleased Alison Hill, president of Vroman's and Book Soup, said on Sunday that Festival sales for both stores had exceeded that of any previous year. At the Distant Lands travel bookstore booth owner Adrian Kalvinskis said, "It's so busy that it's hard for us to get out of the booth. We're constantly re-shelving things and putting books back on display. It's a lot of fun, and definitely seems like there are more people here this year."
Skylight Books, which shared its booth space with the University of California Press, had a "phenomenal" Saturday according to veteran staffer Emily Pullen. "We've been featuring our graphic novels and our noir fiction this year, and both of those have been doing really well. We had T.C. Boyle in the booth, which was a huge draw." Pullen noted that one of the best things about exhibiting at the Festival is that it generates new business. "People drop by who didn't know about Skylight, and they become regular customers for us." At the Book Soup exhibit manager Charles Day paid tribute to the many authors that participated in book signings at their booth. "Our last author will be Katie Arnoldi (Point Dume, Overlook), which is a great way to close out the Festival."
The Festival was a boon for many authors. Edgar Award-winning novelist Naomi Hirahara, who writes the Mas Arai mystery series for Minotaur, was signing at the Vroman's booth. "It's just so exciting here to see so many people who read books in L.A. and break all the stereotypes that people have of us," she said. Hirahara's fans have come to count on seeing her at the Festival every year, and show up regularly to buy her new book. "It's also a great place to meet librarians who attend, and bookstore event planners and, of course, the media. One of the producers for American Public Media came by to see me today. These things are invaluable to an author."