Sunday, April 26, 2009

LA Times Festival of Books

The LA Times Festival of books is a huge 2-day event held on the campus of UCLA. You'd think I'd go every year, but I've only been once before. The good news is that it was still packed at 3PM on Sunday. Several areas were jammed with people.


Few people had anything in their hands. The few people who had bags with books in them were kids, but before you praise the heavens for a new generation of readers, most of those books had a toy packaged with them, and the biggest tent by far in the kids area was Target. Yes, Target. Not a tradtional book store. The longest line I saw was to get autographs from Pixar animators. And the biggest crowd was at the stage where authors of cookbooks were speaking.

I have nothing against cookbooks or their authors. Far from it. I have at least 70 cookbooks. I bought a new one two weeks ago. But flipping through them for dinner ideas isn't the same as reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

I have nothing against Target selling books, or Wal-Mart. But they heavily censor the types of books they sell and probably pick those books for cover appeal, not content, which is like serving 2,000 calorie hamburgers at a fast food joint.

I have nothing against a kid getting a toy. But that's not showing them that a book can be enjoyable itself. Chances are the book never gets read and the toy gets recalled as a choking hazard. The only way to turn kids into readers is to read to them, cuddle while you're reading, and read them a story that makes their eyes light up with anticipation.

Call me a glass half-empty kind of girl, but I wasn't heartened by what I saw today. I prefer to think of myself as seeing the glass half-full - of reality.

1 comment:

Helen said...

I am happy to report that at a local book festival on a much smaller scale, people were buying books in droves. Most importantly, kids were buying (or rather, getting their parents to buy) books in droves. Princess' elementary school holds an annual book fair, and that place was packed all week long. Yes, there was the occasional book packaged with a toy, and we even bought one of those, but the teachers had the kids write up book wish lists during the week so that when it came time for them to hit the fair, they already had several selections in mind.

It didn't hurt that this was a "Buy One, Get One" sale, but I can tell you, we came out with plenty to read.