Politics & Prose Sees Sales Increase in Second Year at National Book Festival

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Higher audience turnout at last Saturday’s Library of Congress National Book Festival translated into a big jump in sales for Politics & Prose, the event’s official bookseller for the second consecutive year.

Politics & Prose co-owner Bradley Graham and ABA CEO Oren Teicher point out the P&P name on custom wallpaper at the National Book Festival featuring the names of all ABA member store locations.

A crowd estimated at more than 120,000 people packed Washington, D.C.’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where Politics & Prose sold titles by many of the event’s 175 featured authors, poets, and illustrators.

“Turnout this year was even greater than last year’s,” said Bradley Graham, who co-owns Politics & Prose with his wife, Lissa Muscatine. While no one keeps an exact count, he said, organizers estimated that attendance at the September 5 event exceeded 120,000 and may even have reached 150,000.

“The crowds reflected a real mix — young and old, individuals and entire families, locals and out-of-towners,” he said. “Judging from assorted comments we received and the expressions on many faces, people seemed quite excited and enthusiastic overall.”

Politics & Prose brought more than 450 titles by the event’s featured authors to the convention center (compared to 250 titles last year) for a total of nearly 35,000 books, and saw a sales increase of more than 30 percent, said Graham.

The 90 Politics & Prose staff members operating the book sales area were joined by staff from Ingram Content Group, which helped the store handle logistics at the convention center; volunteers from several publishing companies; and American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher, Director of Technology Greg Galloway, and Membership Relationship Manager Nathan Halter.

As in 2014, ABA provided and installed custom-designed wallpaper listing the association’s more than 2,200 member store locations on seven panels in the festival’s book sales area.

“For the second year in a row, the folks at Politics & Prose did an absolutely stellar job at the National Book Festival and represented the very best of what indie bookstores can do,” said Teicher. “ABA was delighted to partner with them.”

This year’s National Book Festival offered substantially more author talks and other events than ever before, according to Graham, who said he thinks this is part of what drove this year’s turnout.

“The public’s enormous response was quite encouraging and suggests books and authors remain a very big draw [to the festival],” said Graham.

Authors signing books, giving talks, and participating on panels at the festival included Kate DiCamillo, Louise Erdrich, Lisa Scottoline, David McCullough, Azar Nafisi, Annette Gordon-Reed, Jon Scieszka, and Phil Klay, as well as public figures with recent books, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin and TV news personalities Al Roker and Cokie Roberts.

Pavilions where authors presented were dedicated to a variety of themes in 2015: Children; Teens; Picture Books; Biography & Memoir; Contemporary Life; Food; Fiction; History; International Programs; First Nations of Australia; Mysteries; Thrillers & Science Fiction; Poetry & Prose; and Science.

This year’s festival, which marked the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s sale of his personal library to the Library of Congress, also featured a Poetry Slam, a Graphic Novels Super Session, a panel on “Great Books to Great Movies,” a first-time-ever pavilion dedicated to Romance fiction, and family-friendly activities on the convention center floor.

The National Book Festival was streamed live online in a six-hour broadcast hosted by Jeffrey Brown of PBS NewsHour and Rich Fahle of Book View Now.