By ERIN ALLEN
The Library’s ninth annual National Book Festival garnered widespread press attention in the weeks and months leading up to the highly anticipated event. Despite the competitive media environment, National Book Festival outreach efforts proved extremely successful, resulting in more than 817 million media impressions, including more than 65 print articles and more than 25 broadcast/radio hits.
For the fourth year, an online pressroom on the Library’s website provided the media with background materials, high-resolution images, B-roll, podcasts of author interviews and other audiovisual resources.
Several long-lead media previewed the event, with many of them bringing attention to the President and Mrs. Obama serving as honorary chairs of the event. These included USA Today, The Washington Post, Washington Post Express, Washingtonian, Washington Parent Magazine, Associated Press, The Hill Rag, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Seattle Times, the Las Vegas Sun, the Winnipeg Free Press, About.com, MSNBC.com, Forbes.com and Newsday.com.
“The 2009 National Book Festival features the best and most diverse lineup of [authors] ever. Period. No disrespect to those authors who have read at the Library of Congress-sponsored event before, but the literary fiction at this year’s event is the deepest and most complete group of American novelists that the National Book Festival has ever seen,” said an examiner.com story.
Leveraging the Library’s increasing use of Web 2.0, innovative social media marketing strategies were introduced this year, including a mobile (text-messaging) campaign and updates about the book festival on the Library’s Facebook and Twitter sites. The Library sponsored a “Tweet-Up” during the book festival. Popping up across the country, Tweet-Ups are a gathering of people that “tweet” using Twitter about subjects of common interest. The Library’s Tweet-Up” gave its Twitter followers a chance to chat about the use of social networking. Nearly one dozen reporters and bloggers participated in the Tweet-Up, including media from Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.
The Washington Post, a charter sponsor of the National Book Festival, also ran a variety of pre- and post-festival stories, including a pullout guide in the Book World section and online chats with participating authors on washingtonpost.com.
Post-event news stories about the book festival ran in the Wall Street Journal, voanews.com, publisherweekly.com and other top-tier national and regional outlets.
“The gray morning couldn’t dissuade 130,000 people from attending readings and signings on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol,” said Carolyn Kellogg of the Los Angeles Times. “In a town where politics is common currency, history is preeminent. When Annette Gordon-Reed discussed her book ‘The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,’ all 842 seats in the history tent—the festival’s largest—were full.”
Tony DiTerlizzi, participant and co-author of “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” told SouthCoastToday.com that the book festival is the highlight of his life. “This is on a crazy, huge Lollapalooza scale. Thousands of people come together to celebrate books—how great is that?”
5minutesforbooks.com blogger Dawn Mooney said “Living in the Washington DC metro area has its share of negatives—nonstop traffic, overcrowded schools and an always-present partisan mindset, to name a few. All of these annoyances melt away once the September calendar page is turned, though, because the anticipation for my favorite Saturday of the year begins to build.”
Festival sponsor C-SPAN taped select author presentations for national broadcast on BookTV. For its part, the Library of Congress taped all of the author presentations, many of which were scheduled for same-day broadcast on the book festival website (www.loc.gov/bookfest/).
Maggie Linton and Kim Alexander of Sirius XM Radio and Sam Litzinger of Washington Post Radio interviewed participating authors at the festival in a special studio area designated just for that purpose.
To promote the Library’s newest literacy initiatives, the Read.gov website and “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure” (see story on page 203), Time For Kids magazine and NPR featured a sneak preview of “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure” story.
“Have you ever played the game Hot Potato? Jon Scieszka and a team of 13 popular children’s book authors are playing a writer’s version of the game, and having a blast,” said Time For Kids student reporter Rebecca Joskow.
Also running announcements for “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure” were several blogs, including Christchurch City Libraries (New Zealand) and bookshelves of doom, which said that “working for the Library of Congress/Center for the Book has got to be the most geektastically mindblowingly awesome job there is.”
Erin Allen is a writer-editor in the Library’s Public Affairs Office.