For its upcoming 7th annual event, the Book Festival team is making changes to its outdoor Festival footprint, reducing significantly the number of spots available for exhibitors and vendors. The Festival plans to double the size of the Barnes & Noble tent and adjacent book signing tent previously located on Augusta Street. These plans will require relocation of those tents to the parking lot of the Southwest School of Art, which has historically been the site of the Festival Marketplace. This will result in fewer spots available for the vendors and exhibitors. The limited available spots will be given to Festival-selected exhibitors and will be extended by invitation only.
“It was not an easy decision,” said Lilly Gonzalez, the Festival’s Executive Director. “Independent presses, self-published authors, and literary organizations are an integral part of book festivals. They are part of the celebration of literature at these events. It all came down to the limited space we have available in our footprint and making the tough decision.”
Each year, post Festival, SABF staff debriefs with its various event committees to learn what improvements are needed for the next year’s event. After the roaring success of the 2018 Festival, the feedback was overwhelmingly similar: grow the Barnes and Noble tent.
“We were hearing the same thing from volunteers, attendees, and authors,” said Maritza Cirlos, the Festival’s Managing Director. “The B&N tent was too small. It was too dark in there. It was too crowded. As the Festival grows, these are the growing pains we must address. We want people at the Festival to have a pleasant experience, and that includes shopping at the Barnes & Noble tent.”
As the official bookseller of the San Antonio Book Festival, Barnes and Noble is a valued partner. The store donates a portion of the proceeds it earns during Book Festival weekend back to SABF. While the Festival charged a fee for exhibitors to participate in the Marketplace, that fee was only enough to cover the cost of equipment rentals. The Marketplace was not a source of revenue, said Cirlos. The discounted rates meant the Festival was generally losing money on the Marketplace, she added.
The 2019 Marketplace will still have exhibitors and vendors, but these will be pre-selected by Festival staff and will be extended by invitation only. Invitations will be emailed to exhibitors by Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Applications to participate in the Marketplace will no longer be accepted.
“We will make every effort to keep the Marketplace vibrant and dynamic,” Gonzalez said. “We partner with wonderful, local organizations throughout the year, and they will be given preference for booth space. To all the individuals and groups that have participated in the Marketplace over the past years, we are deeply grateful for your contributions in making the Festival successful. We sincerely regret that there will be terrific exhibitors who are excluded as a result of this decision.”
SABF will be releasing its author lineup on February 7 for its 7th annual Book Festival, which will be held on April 6, 2019, once again at the Central Library and Southwest School of Art. Tables for the Book Appétit Literary Feast featuring Ron Chernow, the Pulitzer Prize winning biographer who penned Hamilton and, more recently, Grant, are available for purchase here. Tickets for The Moth Mainstage will go on sale next month.