An organizer of an upcoming book festival in Bowling Green says it’s becoming more of a challenge to get authors at larger publishers to appear at events for free.
Kristie Lowry is literary outreach coordinator with WKU Libraries, and an organizer with the Southern Kentucky Book Festival. She says book companies have cut their budgets related to book tours and marketing campaigns.
“So getting the authors to come to an event like ours for free, which would have been a little easier back in the day, is harder to do now,” Lowry told WKU Public Radio. “And Penguin and Random House have their own speaker bureaus now, so they market their authors, but you have to pay a fee in order to have them come into town.”
Lowry says another growing trend in the literary world is the rising number of self-published authors. She says many self-published writers in the southern Kentucky region, like Allison Jewell and Jennie Brown, have loyal followings and are well-received when they appear on panels at local book festivals.
Then there's the continued rise of mobile e-readers. According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, more than 103 million people over the age of 16 own an e-reader.
Lowry believes local book festivals will continue to have a place as long as people are reading—and regardless of whether that reading is done with a book or a mobile device.
“I think there will never be a replacement for holding a book in your hand, for smelling the pages—maybe not everybody smells the pages, but I do—and meeting the author and making a personal connection with the author. That can’t be replaced with an e-reader, either.”
The 2014 Southern Kentucky Book Festival is being held Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Knicely Conference Center in Bowling Green.