Washington, D.C.’s Politics & Prose has been selected as the official bookseller for the 14th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, to be held on August 30 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The event, which draws as many as 200,000 people annually, will feature 120 authors this year and is free and open to the public.
Politics & Prose, which also bid to be the event’s official bookseller in 2013, recently learned about its selection for this year’s festival. In previous years, the contract went to chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders.
Store co-owner Bradley Graham pitched the idea of using an independent bookstore as the official seller for the festival to the public relations firm FleishmanHillard, which handled the selection process for the Library of Congress this year. “I thought that not only could we handle the job, but that it would be a signal, if an independent bookstore got the contract, that indies are still alive and well in this country and capable of handling large projects like this,” he said.
“One of the arguments I used was that independents are very involved in other major book festivals in other parts of the country, whether it’s Miami or Boston or Los Angeles or elsewhere,” said Graham, who noted that booksellers were often the creators and organizers of these events. “In the nation’s capital, with an independent bookstore as well-known as Politics & Prose, there should be room for an indie presence at the National Book Festival.”
Jennifer Gavin, the National Book Festival’s project manager, said, “We’re tickled by the particular niche that Politics & Prose holds for this community and this region. I’m really looking forward to the authors that we’re going to bring in and pleased that Politics & Prose is on board. They’re a very well-known institution and it’s going to be a great relationship.”
Politics & Prose will be working with the Ingram Content Group, which will be handling the logistics of bringing inventory to the festival and helping keep the tables stocked with the titles of the 120 authors scheduled to appear. Staff from Politics & Prose will draw from the store’s previous experiences at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and the annual National Press Club Book Fair and Authors’ Night to manage the registers and work with customers.
“This won’t be our first festival but it certainly is going to be the largest project by far that Politics & Prose has undertaken,” said Graham.
The festival, which is usually held outdoors on the National Mall, is moving inside this year because of work to revitalize the mall’s turf. Politics & Prose will set up shop on the second floor of the convention center, where the festival will be using three floors of space, near an area reserved for signing lines. They are working with the Library of Congress and with the American Booksellers Association to develop promotional ideas and décor for the sales area.
Graham is also looking into ways to feature the entirety of the independent bookselling community at the event so that visitors from around the country will be able to recognize their local independents. “We’d like to be able to promote the whole idea of the vital independent bookstore culture,” he said. “That’s been our vision from the beginning.”