The nation’s largest independent book festival is underway in metro Atlanta this weekend. The AJC Decatur Book Festival is a huge bonus to Georgia’s authors.
Atlanta author Charles McNair was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his book "Land O’Goshen " in 1995. But he says even established authors want to be featured at the Decatur Book Festival. That’s because organizers expect 75,000 to 85,000 people to attend.
He says “Even with social media it would take a viral moment. You would have to really have, you know, some extraordinary good luck to have that many exposures at one time.”
McNair will be promoting his new civil war book "Picket’s Charge".
Decatur author Susan Puckett will talk about her travel book "Eat Drink Delta: A Hungry Traveler’s Journey Through The Soul Of The South."
Puckett says nothing beats the eye level contact with readers. “Building these networks of audiences that you didn’t even realize that you had just based on interest.”
The festival features over 300 best-selling authors. There will be readings, book signing and seminars. The festival is also featuring 13 debut authors. Georgia State University associate history professor Alex Sayf Cummings is one of them. He’s written a book called "Democracy Of Sound", which is about music copyrights.
Sayf Cummings says he’s bringing pirated records for his seminar. “People actually see, here’s an old jazz bootleg pirate record from 1948. And this is what it looks like. And here’s the texture and the feel. And we can talk about that.”
He says the festival helps authors rise above the noise of online blogs and book reviews.
Festival program director Philip Rafshoon says even though e-books have revolutionized the book industry, festivals like this will remain relevant.
He says “I don’t think the book is going anywhere. I think the format we get it in will change and evolve as time goes on. But there will always be printed books.”
Rafshoon says he’s seeing a resurgence of independent book stores.