THE CLIFF NOTES The dreams of book lovers everywhere come true once a year at the National Book Festival that takes place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and this year's 12th annual event promises to deliver more than just a few note-worthy words and quotable phrases.
The two-day "rain-or-shine" family-friendly event brings together more than 100 authors, poets and illustrators who will host discussions and sign thousands of books for devoted fans and avid readers. Festival-goers are invited to bring the most beloved copies of participating authors' books or to pick up the latest opus from the on-site bookstore, operated by Barnes & Noble.
Now, the festival spreads out between 9th and 14th streets, but people are encouraged to research public transportation options or be prepared to walk with the other 200,000 people expected to be in town.
But, don't let the size of the event or the amount of people who regularly attend intimidate you either. The event is known for being well executed and spacious. It's also known for state-of-the-art sound systems that give everyone a front row seat, which means even the guy in the back will be able to hear or have his question answered.
More information can be found at www.loc.gov/bookfest/ but be sure to check out the different schedules for speaking and signing because they are not the same. Also, pack up the kiddos for this one because it will be well worth the drive for them, too. There are two full size tents devoted to pint-sized readers with build-a-book stations, Legos galore, and a 19th century stagecoach. The PBS tent will also have life-size characters, like Clifford the Big Red Dog, who is turning 50 this year, posing for pictures.
DO'S & DON'TS Do bring cash for food and souvenirs. Don't forget to pack the sunscreen. Do dress comfortably or as your favorite character, but don't be embarrassed as lots of people will be in costume. Do leave your manuscript at home, but be ready for open question sessions following author discussions. Do check out the digital bookmobile, a 74-foot tractor-trailer displaying e-reading options for the modern reader. Don't leave your furry friends at home. Leashed dogs are welcome. Do join the Twitter conversations by tagging posts and pictures with #natbookfest or by following your favorite authors, some of whom are active tweeters. Additionally, @librarycongress will be live-tweeting information and updates throughout the weekend.