Authors assemble for book fest

The annual Philadelphia Book Festival makes an argument for literature in all forms. Times are changing in the literary world, as bookstores are closing and publishers are looking for the next best way to get

Courtesy Mia Berg Science writer Dava Sobel will speak at the book festival. She is the author of “A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos.”

The annual Philadelphia Book Festival makes an argument for literature in all forms.

Times are changing in the literary world, as bookstores are closing and publishers are looking for the next best way to get a story out.

However, Andrew Kahan, the director of author events of the Free Library of Philadelphia, said regardless of whether readers like their stories on Kindle or in print, book lovers still want to support their favorite authors. It is this reason that the Philadelphia Book Festival remains active in its sixth year.

“Book festivals are a way for people to get together and celebrate the words,” Kahan said. “It is an opportunity [to experience] community and to meet talented writers.”

The annual festival usually features poetry, in honor of April being National Poetry Month, but this year’s festivities include more poets than previous years. This year also includes an appearance from renowned poet Nikky Finney. In addition, Phillip Levine and Sonia Sanchez, the former United States poet laureate and current Philadelphia poet laureate, respectively, will also speak.

The week-long event also includes science writers Dava Sobel and D. Graham Burnett, as the festival coincides with the Philadelphia Science Festival. Additionally, the festival holds events for children – live music and a character parade.

“We wanted to draw people into the library to focus on books, play and literacy,” Kahan said. “It’s a great opportunity to visit the library.”

Science author of the book “A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos,” and festival speaker Dava Sobel said she agrees. The author was invited to the festival to speak about her book, and praised the rewards that came from her attendance of the festival.

“It’s a great way for me to meet the readers and other writers,” Sobel said. “I like to attend the writers’ events. Plus, I like Philadelphia and the library.”

Sobel said the popularity of the festival is a sign of what is to come in the book industry.

“Authors used to speak at bookstores, but that’s totally changing with e-books,” Sobel added. “Festivals are becoming much more popular and they already are popular in Europe and Australia.”

“Regardless of the format the book takes, if they love the author, they’ll come out and meet this person,” Kahan said.

She added that attendees often still buy physical versions of the books to have their copies signed by the authors. He said he also hopes that the festival will bring forth an interest in reading to members of the community.

“Reading is such a component of being a good citizen, finding out the way other people think and empathizing with them,” he said.

Kahan said that residents should attend the festival to see the authors they love and fulfill their own curiosity about science or poetry, or even just to be entertained by the First Person Story Slam.

“It’s fun and entertaining and you might even learn something while you’re here,” he said.

Danielle Miess can be reached at

Bookworms can rejoice this week, as the Philadelphia Book Festival at Parkway Central Library kicks off its sixth year with renowned novelists, poets and non-fiction writers from around the world.

An Evening with Phillip Levine

Tuesday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m.

$15 general admission, $7 students

Join the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and 2011 United States poet laureate, who specializes in writing urban poetry for a “working-class world.”


An Evening with Sonia Sanchez

Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Meet Philadelphia’s first poet laureate and winner of many literary awards. Sanchez covers topics including bigotry, and drug abuse in her writing.


Robert Polito

Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The editor, poet and critic discusses his recent book on the Philadelphia born crime-fiction writer David Goodis. The presentation also includes a movie screening of the 1957 noir movie, “The Burglar,” based on Goodis’s novel of the same name.


First Person StorySlam: Mistaken Identities

Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.

$15 general admission, $7 students

In a joint production with First Person Arts, storytellers battle against each other while telling tales of mistaken identities.


Dava Sobel on A More Perfect

Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos

Saturday, April 21 at 1:00 p.m.

The Philadelphia Science Festival combines with the arts for the critically acclaimed science writer’s appearance.

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