By ERIN ALLEN
Celebrating its 11th year, the Library’s National Book Festival received robust media coverage across print, online and broadcast channels, with a total of 627 stories and 1.16 million media impressions appearing in top news outlets.
The Library continued its social- media outreach through its Facebook and Twitter pages and an online pressroom with background materials, high-resolution images, B-roll, and podcasts of author interviews.
“Today” show co-host and festival author Hoda Kotb gave the Library and the National Book Festival a “shout out” on her show and through her Twitter account. Kotb’s tweets, along with many others, could be viewed by festival attendees on a live Twitterfall.
Radio and broadcast coverage included WRC-TV (NBC, Washington, DC), WTOP, WETA and Sirius XM Radio.
Festival sponsor C-SPAN2 taped select author presentations for national broadcast on BookTV. And, new this year, the network held live on-stage chats with the authors who delivered the final presentation of the day on both Saturday and Sunday. Members of the live audience and call-in viewers participated in the dialogue with authors.
The Washington Post, a charter sponsor of the National Book Festival, ran a variety stories, including naming it a “weekend best event.” The publication also hosted a scavenger hunt as part of KidsPost.com.
The Post’s Reliable Source column said the festival was “all about the old-fashioned, ongoing love affair with reading.”
Author Toni Morrison was a big festival draw, not only with the fans but also the media. The Post called her “witty, wise and insightful.” Washingtonian said Morrison “charmed the audience with her breezy sense of humor and her candor.”
Nancy Dunham of the Washington Examiner said, “If you think that honest-to-goodness books have gone the way of eight-track tape players, you’ll likely change your mind when you attend the 2011 National Book Festival sponsored by the Library of Congress.”
“At the festival, you get a chance to hear favorite authors talk about their favorite characters, how books came to be and what the craft of writing is like,” said blog GeekMom. “Having spent so much time in a world created by someone else, it can be a little astonishing to see writers in person.”
Publishers Weekly and The Huffington Post covered the festival with photo essays, as did D.C.’s own BrightestYoungThings.com, with a more humorous edge.
“Here’s the thing about the book festival: it’s bench-deep, like the Yankees lineup. Even the pinch hitters are best sellers. We thumbed through the catalog of authors like kids on Christmas morning choosing which presents to open first,” said Jeff Jetton. “The festival is like the Oscars for book nerds and fanboys and fangirls.”
Coverage by the Library’s own reporter, Mark Hartsell, was featured in American Libraries magazine. “Like a good book, the 11th annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., September 24-25, took readers to places they had never been before.
“The festival attracted all sorts: groups who traveled hundreds of miles to attend; locals who come every year; diehard fans who patiently waited in book-signing lines that stretched across the Mall; families who queued up for photos with Arthur the Aardvark; and even a man who walked a special guest to readings—a heavyset cat on a leash,” Hartsell said.
Time for Kids sent young reporter Claire Duncan to cover the festival. “Some of our nation’s most important events have happened on the National Mall,” she noted. “Having the 11th annual National Book Festival in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s memorial demonstrates the importance of books and reading in our lives.”
Other coverage included the Associated Press, Southern Living, Amtrak’s GoCity online guide, Roll Call, The Hill, Capitol File, Culture Mob blog, Washington City Paper, Voice of America, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times’ Caucus Blog, The Baltimore Sun, School Library Journal, and Spirit Magazine (Southwest Airlines’ in-flight publication).
Erin Allen is a writer-editor in the Office of Communications.