My tickets are booked for the WORD Christchurch Festival and I am happily attending an eclectic bunch of sessions, starting with Alt-America and ending with The Sex and Death Salon. What I enjoyed about the last festival was the feeling of being surrounded by people who love books. The buzz and the talk is booky and fun. There are groups of people chatting away about the last session, or the books they might have bought - and the awe and excitement of meeting their favourite author.
With this in mind I was delighted to see my reserve for Book Towns: Forty-five paradises of the printed word arrive on my desk this morning. This small book contains anecdotes of book towns around the world, many being part of the International Organisation of Book Towns. Many towns have numerous bookshops, but these towns have embraced books as a way of driving tourism and regenerating communities faced with economic collapse and unemployment.
Featherston in the Wairarapa is featured.
Wigtown also warrants a chapter. Shaun Bythell, owner of The Bookshop – and writer of the uber-popular Diary of a Bookseller will be here for WORD Christchurch.
The effect of becoming a Book Town can be far-reaching with many organising Book Festivals, accommodation and craft outlets to support the whole book experience. Pop up books towns are now becoming a feature - unused empty spaces are taken over by booksellers, often alongside a festival and featuring local artisans, music and food, as well as all the wonderful books of course.
Perhaps an idea for Christchurch?