Friday, October 6, 2023

Observations From The Brooklyn Book Festival


I recently attended the Brooklyn Book Festival with my sister, daughter, and niece. All of us book people, we wanted to come where thousands gather every year to celebrate books and honor the written word.  

Though I grew up in Brooklyn, I had never been to this festival. It blended panel discussions with author book signings, and street stand sales of books. Many books on display had a Brooklyn connection - written by Brooklynites, published by Brooklyn-based publishers, sold by area bookstores, or books about Brooklyn’s history and characters.  

But I noticed another theme seemed to tie many of their books together. It was the voice of the previously disenfranchised feminists, revolutionaries, Communists, Blacks, LGBTQ, and Muslims. However, most of these types of books are so mainstream now, filling awards slots, bestseller lists, and book review space. What was radical and/or underrepresented is now the norm. What is now underrepresented are the classics and great works that were written by straight white men. 

PEN was there, supporting free speech and raging against book bans. I'm all for that - free speech that is, not book bans. But one of the young ladies manning the booth seemed confused when I told her the right seems to ban books, but it’s the left that censors, cancels, and wants to re-write books. I’m not sure where she’s been, but this is so obvious. Unfortunately, the censors hate the banners and vice versa. They should realize they are mirror images of each other. Both are determined to having a truly free society -- but both need to acknowledge we can neither ban nor censor any book.  

One of the best parts of any event, like a book festival, is that it draws people with their companion pets, namely dogs. I got to pet a chunky boy who looked to be a pit bull/bulldog mix. So friendly and cute! His name was Moose. Dogs may not be big readers, but they often will curl up on a couch with their owner, who is sure be reading something they got from the festival.  

When my 15-year-old daughter spotted her favorite author signing books for a line of people, she giggled with excitement and ran off to join the crowd. I was happy to see her so happy. She ended up buying a copy of a book she already had read and owned - just so she can get the autograph of Casey McQuiston, who wrote Red, White, and Royal Blue. They even took a photo together. Fandom - it’s not just for rock stars, professional athletes, billionaires, or influencers! Here, authors are the stars! 

I was glad I attended, for I love books and the people who feel the same. Festivals bring books to life and jam together people who may otherwise like the same books but would normally never see who is out there that also silently enjoys and supports the authors one loves and treasures. Maybe you’ll go next year? I guarantee you’ll find something to enjoy.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on LinkedIn. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.4 million pageviews. With 4,600+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  

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