The 2012 edition of the Southern Festival of Books, held October 12 -14 in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza, drew over 200 authors, multitudes of fans, and more than 50 book related exhibitors. The free book festivities, in operation since 1989, are a time-honored celebration of southern literature. The long-standing festival braved poor weather and high winds this past weekend to bring book lending technology and the latest bestsellers to a crowd of over 20,000. Junot Diaz, Damien Echols, R.L. Stine, and Gillian Flynn were among the attending authors.

One of the featured speakers, author Lauren Groff entranced the crowd inside the public library explaining how she wove what should be a complicated tablet of fabric into a seamless quilt of southern story in her Arcadia. After her panel, Groff spoke about the energy that cocoons Nashville during SoFest, and how it benefits writers and readers. “Being a writer, one of the most exciting things for a writer is to meet other writers whom you love, and all the people who come to the festival are always so kind and generous and lovely. As a reader, these are my people,” said Groff. With her panel out of the way, Groff focused on being a reader, sitting in panels and soaking up the story of her favorite authors, like Ron Rash and Adam Ross.

New to Southern Festival was the digital Bookmobile. As Serenity Gerbman, director, literature and language programs at Humanities Tennessee, which helps sponsor SoFest, said, "The world of books is changing rapidly, but the act of reading is as important as ever. We are thrilled to partner with the Digital Bookmobile to help people continue to understand how books are available through libraries, and to make choices about the manner of reading that works best for them."

A traveling affair hitched to a semi, OverDrive's Bookmobile is more showroom than trailer. Children crowded around the television screen in the gallery, where a flat panel taught them how to download everything from their favorite stories to music videos through the Tennessee READs app. For four years the Bookmobile has toured the US, circling the country four times.

Like the original Bookmobile, the traveling digital version’s goal is to bring books to everyone, carrying the message that if you can download an app, your local library is at the tip of your finger. As OverDrive's Dan Conochan said, “We’re here to walk anyone who comes through our doors through the process. A lot of people come in and they learn you can download e-books for free from the library. We help them troubleshoot how to do it.”

Southern Festival made great strides this weekend as it ushered in celebrated authors and the latest visions in the literary world. As Adam Ross stated, “[Southern Festival of Books] is flat-out fun and that's due in large part, I think, to where it's held. Everything's so centralized at Legislative Plaza that I find myself running into authors right and left." Lauren Groff echoed his sentiments; “The festival shows the wide array in southern writing. We’re a vast, diverse group of people and it’s a celebration of the variety and I think it’s wonderful.”