I love the book fest and attend almost every year, even when it frustrates me. As I was going over the schedule the other day to plan my weekend, it dawned on me that in many ways, the LATFOB is a microcosm of the things I love and hate about LA. By which I mean…
- It's April in LA, so the weather will be sunny and beautiful. Guaranteed.
- It's LA, so I'll spend almost as much time planning how to get there and where I'll park as I'll spend at the festival itself.
- Keep the cross-town rivalry alive! The LATFOB moved the festival from UCLA to USC in 2011, and there are book people who still argue about which venue is better.
- Why does Hollywood seem to overshadow everything arts-related in this town? Drives me nuts to sit in a half-empty room listening to a panel of amazing, creative, intelligent authors, only to step outside and see hundreds of people lined up to get autographs from Valerie Bertinelli or Carol Burnett for their ghost-written tomes.
- Sequelmania! I've seen a lot of this year's panelists at the book fest in previous years. They're brought back year after year, even when they don't have a new book out. A few lucky authors are appearing on more than one panel this year. Some of the panels themselves look like retreads. They may be crowd pleasers, but I wish festival organizers would make more effort to bring in new authors and new ideas.
- Latinos make up nearly 50 percent of the LA County population, but the book fest still treats them like a niche audience. The book fest isn't alone in this, which is unfortunate.
- The LATFOB is a reminder that LA is, in fact, an incredibly literary city.