How do you decide if an event is a success? One clear indicator is how many people turn up, but the day after the inaugural Bay Area Book Festival came to a close, its creator and executive director Cherilyn Parsons was still trying to put a number on that.
“I would say 50,000 to 60,000 as a ballpark figure,” she mused Monday, after throwing out some venue capacity numbers and drawing on estimates suggested by festival colleague Lisa Bullwinkel who produced the whole show.
The truth, as anyone who attended the two-day festival that took over downtown Berkeley on June 6-7 can testify, is that there were lines down the block to get in to most author events. Of which there were 100 at indoor venues across town, with many more happening outdoors on the teen and children’s stages. More than 300 authors flocked to the city to participate, and stayed on to sign books and attend panels. And the festival’s centerpiece, the dramatic Lacuna “temple of books” installation in Civic Center Park, which Parsons said quickly became “the emotional and spiritual heart of the festival,” was thrumming with people all weekend. To the extent that the 50,000 free books on offer were almost all gone by the end of the festival’s first day.
So, it seems fair to say the first Bay Area Book Festival, conceived by Parsons three years ago, and inspired by her experience working at the Los Angeles Book Festival, was an outstanding success.
“We are beyond thrilled,” Parsons said. “We are thrilled at the quality of the Bay Area crowd and so appreciative that it was there.” She added that it was wonderful to see two years of “intensive work” come to fruition, and to hear from all quarters — authors, vendors, festival-goers — that they had had a great time. (Check #baybookfest on Twitter for the tweets that went out live from the festival.)
Below, we present a collection of photographs that capture just some moments in time during a weekend that saw a large, happy gathering of book-lovers reveling in the world of reading in the center of library-loving, literate Berkeley. (And watch the video, by Kim Aronson, at the end, about the Lacuna installation.)
Berkeleyside was a key media sponsor of the Bay Area Book Festival, along with the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED.
Want to know what else is going on in Berkeley and nearby? Visit Berkeleyside’s new-look Events Calendar. Submit your own events for free if they aren’t there already — and give them featured status for as little as $10 a day.