Now in its second year, the Bucks County Book Festival is a weekend event taking place throughout Doylestown, PA. Part of Discover Doylestown, the festival hopes to engage writers, educators, and bookworms throughout the area with a variety of book-themed activities and workshops. Most of the events are free, although ticketed events such as the Writers Workshop, the Illustrators Workshop, and the Keynote Author Q&A require advance purchase.
The weekend breaks down fairly evenly to allow guests to design their trip according to their needs. The ticketed events take place on Saturday, staggered throughout the day so that one could conceivably attend all three if they so choose, and the author events are geared toward children of all ages, with storytime and meet and greets taking place throughout the day at the Doylestown Fire Company (there is also a Books ‘n Brew pub crawl throughout town from 5-6:30pm, if parents want some adults-only time) before the Keynote event with Anna Quindlen at 7pm.
Sunday is devoted to panels, and local authors such as Jon McGoran, Stephanie Evanovich, and Chuck Wendig (whose Wanderers I reviewed earlier this year) will be in conversation throughout the day in the Hamilton Street parking lot, right outside the Doylestown Bookshop. I’ve met several of the authors who are sharing their expertise and insights, and I’m a big fan of most of the lineup, but there’s a telling lack of diversity. The Festival has addressed this issue on their website and social media, with a promise to do better by authors and readers going forward, but only time will tell whether that promise will bear fruit.
Lack of representation
It’s notable that Doylestown had a nearly 95 percent white population as of the 2010 census. In a place that’s already homogenous, the push for diversity is even more important, because there is no one to check the biases of a predominantly white institution, which perpetuates a cycle of exclusivity that’s not only difficult to break but a hindrance to achieving major cultural significance. It’s strange to see this problem emerge, as authors of color contributed to the success of the Book Festival’s inaugural year. The place where the festival can do the most work this year is on Sunday’s Fall Book Recommendations panel, where publisher representatives will hopefully be uplifting authors of color.
Guests can also be active voices for greater representation. Most of the panels are conversation style, and if we wish to see change, we must be willing to advocate for it. Diversity is not a marketing buzzword or a publishing trend, it’s an incontrovertible fact of reality. Our stories, and our storytellers, should reflect our experiences in a meaningful way.
What, When, Where:
Children’s Events will take place on Saturday, October 12, from 9:30am-2pm, at the Doylestown Fire Co., 68 Shewell Avenue. The Illustrators’ Workshop will take place Saturday, October 12, from 8:30am-12:30pm, at Stacks Co., 54 East Oakland Avenue, a wheelchair accessible venue. The Writers’ Workshop will take place Saturday, October 12, from 1pm to 4pm, at the James Lorah Auditorium, 132 North Main Street, a wheelchair accessible venue. The Keynote will take place Saturday, October 12, at 7pm, at the Salem United Church of Christ, 186 East Court Street, a wheelchair accessible venue.
Live music and author panels begin at 11:30am on Sunday in the Hamilton Street parking lot, an accessible outdoor space. Additional information can be found online.