This past weekend, the 14th Brooklyn Book Festival was held on a hot and sunny Sunday in downtown Brooklyn, New York.
"With over 40,000 in attendance, and the sun shining bright, it was a glorious festival this year," Johnny Temple, chair of the festival and Akashic Books publisher, told PW. "We are always thrilled to present this wonderful community-spirited event that presents challenging and thought-provoking discussions that are free and welcoming to all. What a treat to see so many fans and readers getting to meet their favorite authors, with a nonstop celebration of books and ideas."
This year's winner of the Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) award was children's book author Mo Willems, who quoted legendary Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones in his acceptance speech at the gala on Saturday night: "Artist," he said, "is a given name," not one creators take for themselves. Another big award, the biannual St. Francis College Literary Prize, which comes with a $50,000 purse, went to Samantha Hunt for her short story collection The Dark Dark.
Indie publishers again had many good things to say about the consumer fair, which continues to grow in attendance and programming year after year. Casey O’Neil, Graywolf Press sales director, called the event "one of our absolute favorite excuses to get out of Minneapolis to see so many authors, close friends, and devoted readers," adding that "one unexpected highlight for us was the amazing MILKMAN display from our friends at Community Bookstore.”
Ibrahim Ahmad, Akashic Books editorial director, called the mood at his booth "jubilant, even if we were a little delirious from the heat." He added: "The street fair on Sunday proved once again why the Brooklyn Book Festival is the finest public showcase of indie publishing in particular. Our colleagues reported brisk sales throughout the day, and our author programs were all jam-packed. The biggest revelation was Children's Day"—held the Saturday before the fair proper each year—"which has quickly transformed into a can't-miss event for families and kids' book publishers alike."
Daley Farr publicist at Coffee House Books, said this was the first year in roughly a decade that the Minneapolis-based press returned to the festival, after encouragement from their fellow Minnesotans at Graywolf. "Foot traffic was very active for us all day, especially in the afternoon," she said, and "sales were very healthy, with us selling out of titles such as Chloe Caldwell’s I’ll Tell You In Person (from our Emily Books imprint), Roque Larraquy’s Comemadre (translated by Heather Cleary), and contributing editor Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth. We also saw great sales for Naja Marie Aidt’s When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in Translated Literature earlier in the week. We can’t wait to come back!"
At Canada's Coach House Books booth, Richard Nash, who co-runs Cursor Marketing Services, summed up the fair in a quip: “It’s lovely seeing Brooklyn stroll by, and of course even lovelier when they stop and buy!”