Citing tough economic conditions for both the newspaper and potential sponsors, the San Francisco Chronicle has pushed back plans to launch a major book fair scheduled for this fall and is instead focusing on holding the event in 2003.
"We did not have all the sponsors we needed," said Narda Zacchino, the senior editor brought in by the Chronicle last spring primarily to set up the new San Francisco book fair. "It's a really expensive event to produce and we don't want to do it halfheartedly." Zacchino is credited with the success of the L.A. Times Festival of Books—a two-day event co-sponsored by the University of California at Los Angeles that draws upward of 50,000 people a day—and it is that fair on which the Chronicle is modeling its event.
The Chronicle has approached sponsors, including Target and Barnes & Noble, two top sponsors for the Los Angeles fair, but, without firm commitments in place for 2002, the paper decided to push the event back a year. Zacchino blamed sponsor reluctance on the current economic climate.
The Chronicle has had its own economic troubles. It has laid off more than 200 employees and is in the process of negotiating voluntary buyouts with an undisclosed number of others. "It's hard to put on a festival when you are laying people off," Zacchino added.