The Bay Area Book Festival: Literary Feat and Fun!

 Written by Margie Yee Webb

I love book festivals! Small or large, they are always fun with many authors to meet and colleagues to connect with. The free inaugural Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) held on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, 2015 in Downtown Berkeley’s Arts District was mega-large and mega-fun! There were books galore for purchase and for free.

The literary feat founded by Cherilyn Parsons, Executive Director, BABF Leadership Team, is “an entirely grassroots endeavor, driven by hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours and energized by the commitments of key partners, such as UC Berkeley, the City of Berkeley, The San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, Berkeleyside Uncharted, independent bookstores, publishers, and generous individual donors, foundations and corporations willing to invest in the dream of a new, free, world-class, weekend literary festival for Northern California.”

Bay Area Book Festival WNBA

The indoor/outdoor festival featured over 300 authors—international, national and local—with keynotes, interviews and panels. Featured authors and speakers included Peter Coyote, Maxine Hong Kingston, Riikka Pulkkinen, Matthieu Ricard, Christian Robinson, Mac Barnett, Lauren Oliver, Dan Santat, Carmen Boullosa, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, and Thierry Maugenest. Over 100 author sessions were at various indoor venues, including the East Bay Media Center and San Francisco Chronicle Stage at Freight & Salvage. Author presentations and performances were at the outdoor Children’s Stage and Teen Stage, too.

Teens on the stage

Numerous exhibitors filled the Children’s Area, Eco Alley, Literary Lane, Maker’s Lane, Mind & Body Boulevard, Radical Row, Teen Street, and Writer’s Row. Exhibitors included the San Francisco Writers Conference (SFWC), Friends of the Berkeley Public Library, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Read-Aloud Volunteer Program, Half-Price Books Summer Reading Program, East Bay Children’s Book Project, Berkeley Historical Society, City Lights Bookstore and Publishers, Green Apple Books, C-Span/Book TV, and authors. 

One of the festival highlights was the Lacuna, a monumental and participatory art installation project, a library temple built with 50,000 books donated by the Internet Archive. The project is the work of the FLUX Foundation and visitors were invited to take books at no cost from the Lacuna.

_Lacuna_by_FLUX Foundation_for_Bay_Area_Book_Festival_2015_photo_by_Margie_Yee_Webb

As a member of both the Women’s National Book Association-San Francisco Chapter (WNBA-SF) and California Writers Club (CWC), I was pleased to see members of both groups participating in the festival.

WNBA-SF members and authors involved included Brooke Warner, BABF panel moderator and Program Adviser, BABF Leadership Team; Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents, co-directors of the San Francisco Writers Conference and Michael is on the BABF Literary Council; Barbara Santos, SFWC Marketing Director; Jane Glendinning, SFWC Onsite Volunteer Coordinator; Teresa LeYung-Ryan, SFWC presenter; and Margie Yee Webb, SFWC volunteer. 

Jane Glendinning (CWC Berkeley Branch Secretary) and Teresa LeYung-Ryan (past CWC SF Peninsula Branch President) are also CWC members and I am currently CWC Vice President and CWC Sacramento Branch President. I ran into CWC authors who participated, including John Byrne Barry in Writer’s Row at the SFWC booth, Sharon Svitak in Writer’s Row; Deborah Jordan Bernal (CWC Tri-Valley Branch President and SFWC Volunteer) and Shelley Lee Riley in Literary Lane, Elizabeth Wagele in the Mind & Body Boulevard, and Linda Champion in the Children’s Area.

At the SFWC booth, several of us took shifts to hand out flyers to promote the SFWC on February 11-14, 2016, and San Francisco Writing for Change Conference on September 12, 2015. Michael and Barbara greeted visitors on Saturday, Jane helped both days, and John and I helped on Sunday.

Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo, SFWC presenter and BABF panel member, took a moment to stop by the SFWC booth.

Also, I connected with Allison Branscombe at Eastwind Books of Berkeley in the Mind & Body Boulevard, an author I met at the April 2015 Sacramento Public Library’s Local Author Book Festival.

The BABF had a First Edition Club where individuals and organizations were invited to join through donations to support the festival. Literary Muse donors include Brooke Warner, Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen, Teresa LeYung-Ryan, Margie Yee Webb and California Writers Club.

I captured the literary fun through photos. Thanks to Teresa for tagging those photos and creating an album on Facebook. You can view Teresa LeYung-Ryan’s photo album on Facebook for a virtual journey.

Cheers for another successful Bay Area Book Festival next year!

Author/Photographer, Cat Mulan’s Mindful Musings: Insight and Inspiration for a Wonderful Life

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