Monday, October 03, 2011


I discovered last week that Northwest Bookfest had been resurrected. In its glory days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was the Pacific Northwest's premier festival of books, so I was excited to see what it would look like, especially in the shadow of Portland, Oregon's upcoming Wordstock (which is now the PNW's largest book festival) and amidst an embattled book industry (in an increasingly digital age).

Many of the exhibitors were local authors or homegrown presses representing one or a handful of books. One of the larger exhibitors was Seattle Center for Book Arts, which made its booth interactive and lively. SCBA had a working letterpress on hand and various mini books for kids and adults to make. Otherwise, with its outdoor tents (in Kirkland's Peter Kirk Park) on a drizzly October day, it felt like a literary farmer's market. That wasn't a bad image to portray, but the gray and rain seemed to be keeping crowds away. Next time, an indoor location for a fall event, seems a better idea.

For the most part, the exhibitors, authors, presses, publishers, literacy groups, and book industry services that participated were passionate about being present. The constant threat of rain couldn't dampen their spirits. Attendees were greeted with smiles and stories and welcome arms.

In addition to the booths, workshops, author discussions, book signings, and literary events took place in nearby buildings. The Wife, The Child, and I saw "Junk Puppet Land" by Zambini Brothers. It was a creative collection of five vignettes told with puppets made out of second-hand or discarded household items. The crowd of gathered children and adults loved the imaginative take on folk tales from around the world.


I left Northwest Bookfest somewhat sad. I remembered what it once was, and this wasn't it. I know that it will difficult to try and be the large, well-attended events that took place on the Seattle waterfront, for those glory days are past. But I hope that the organizers of Northwest Bookfest have the same passion and tenacity as the authors and publishers that were present to make next year's event bigger and bolder.

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