The sun shined brightly Saturday, April 24 when the Ann Arbor
Book Festival — the first of its kind in the city —
took to the streets. The street fair, which was held in the area
around North University Avenue and State Street, was the heart of
the book festival.

Ryan Nowak
LSA junior Crystal Ammori browses as the vendors pedal their novels and other paraphernalia at the Ann Arbor Book Festival on April 24. (FOREST CASEY/Daily)

Organizers planned the book festival out of a desire to spread
their appreciation for literacy and to get people excited about
reading.

“We wanted to celebrate the written word, the spoken word,
written lyrics, the writing process and the way that books change
people and society,” Executive Director Julia Dickinson
said.

Thousands of books were sold at booths sponsored by vendors from
around the country. There were also author readings, writing
workshops and children’s activities for learning and
entertainment.

Dickinson said she was pleased that the book festival
incorporated people of all ages.

“I’m excited that it was able to bring together a
lot of different people because there are so many things in our
society that are so stratified,” Dickinson said.

The book festival kicked off on April 23 with a series of short
talks and readings in the Rackham Amphitheater.

Despite a low student turnout at the event, those who were in
attendance said they enjoyed it because it was a good study break.
“I like that it’s a fun thing to do during
finals,” LSA junior Heather Radke said.

Radke said she enjoyed herself because there were so many
different books and authors at the festival. “I’d like
to see it continued in the future,” she added.

The street fair included many different discussions, workshops
and activities. The main stage was located in the Modern Languages
Building Auditorium 3, and it featured readings by national and
regional authors, such as Chris Crutcher, Christopher Paul Curtis
and Charles Baxter.

The events began in the morning with a panel discussion titled
“The Book that Changed My Life.” The discussion
included University President Mary Sue Coleman, Head Football Coach
Lloyd Carr and English Prof. Thylias Moss.

Meanwhile, others were enjoying the warm weather and checking
out the numerous booths along North University Avenue. Many vendors
thought the book festival was good for business because there was
such a large turnout of people. “It can only help because it
gives us more visibility,” said Shaman Drum employee Jeff
Jordan.

Jordan said he hopes the festival will become an annual event
— especially because improvements will come with
experience.

Dickinson said she is already thinking about next year, and how
the festival can be improved.

She said she would like to have many of the planning committees
in place earlier and elicit more student participation through
writing contests. She also wants to have a more formal author
selection process and attract some bigger name authors.

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