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The Literary Festival Scene.

Andy Robertson

Literary festivals continue to be popular around the world with a steady flow of interested visitors always keen to attend. Sometimes referred to as book or writer's festivals they focus on celebrating all aspects of literature and writing attracting a solid fanbase irrespective of language, culture, country or nationality.


Some festivals have a long history perhaps starting off as simple book fairs and have evolved over time to include presentations and readings by recognised authors with many events spanning several days or weeks with additional activities including open discussions for example. Most literary festivals will cover well established authors and well-known books plus new up and coming authors gaining popularity.

Literary Festival Selection. 
One of the longest running and most established events is the Edinburgh International Book Festival that was founded in 1983, it regularly features 900 events hosting more than 800 speakers every year. Also from the UK is the well-known and respected Hay Festival of Literature and Arts that has been running since 1987. The largest literary event is the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival held in India that started in 2006, it attracts 1,600 authors and more that 1 million visitors. Other notable literary festivals around the world include the Sydney Writers’ Festival with 100k visitors and the L.A Times Festival of Books with 150k visitors. 

Literary Festival Logistics. 
Like any festival the logistics are similar to those of a large-scale music festival. However, instead of performance artists the organisers are booking authors and scheduling readings, presentations and book signings. The fee structure, if any, will be quite different from musicians and there is no requirement for technical equipment or instrument set up. With so many authors, guest speakers and visitors there will certainly be a need to recruit and manage a sizeable number of volunteers to assist with the smooth running of any festival. There will be demand from vendors but with a bias towards retail book suppliers and associated merchandise plus the usual array of food and beverage vendors. Corporate sponsors are more likely to come from publishing houses rather than alcohol drinks companies. As with any sizeable event the marketing and ticketing functions will be crucial for the financial success of any literary festival.

Whilst the total number of literary festivals remains small the number of events that do take place are proving to be very popular. Organisers of the well-known successful events have had to handle increasing complexity over the years as the number of ‘authors’ and visitors has increased. Fortunately, many organisers have managed to scale their literary festivals up to larger events by using logistics principles borrowed from the music festival industry where common organisational challenges are similar or the same.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing authors, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Image by Ahmad Ardity from Pixabay

Andy Robertson
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