Book Chapter

Book Events, Book Environments



Squires C & Finkelstein D (2019) Book Events, Book Environments. In: Nash A, Squires C & Willison IR (eds.) The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain Volume 7: The Twentieth Century and Beyond. Cambridge History of the Book in History, 7. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 668-678.

First paragraph: Since the Second World War, a common conception has been that the literary festival has become one of the key sites for the promotion of books and literary culture in the UK. As currently conceived by the myriad of festivals worldwide dedicated to celebrating literary culture and the book, the literary festival conjoins the commercial aspects found in trade book fairs around the world (selling books, exhibiting new titles, offering space for trade representatives to meet) with the promotion of new and established writers through public readings, book signings and encounters with readers. The literary festival has become a major fixture on the publishing circuit, utilised to showcase new works by established authors and provide high visibility and marketing opportunities for publishers. The first multi-sessional literary festival of this sort in Britain was launched in Cheltenham in 1949. In the post-war period, and particularly after 1970, the development of the literary festival continued, to the extent that by 2015, the number of literary and literature-related festivals in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales had risen exponentially to over 217.2 This growth, which is explored later in this chapter, attests to the values (social, cultural and financial) of such events to local economies and communities. The work of literary festivals in terms of shaping writing, publishing and reading communities has continued to grow in the era of digital media. The opportunity to meet authors and fellow readers face-to-face, to buy books and other merchandise, and to align a liking for literature with travel and tourism, is being taken up by hundreds of thousands of readers every year. In the twenty-first century, an event- and location-based literary culture has also expanded opportunities for face-to-face encounters with virtual participation via social media interactions, live streaming, and podcasting.

book festivals; literary festivals; book towns; book cultures

Title of seriesCambridge History of the Book in History
Number in series7
Publication date01/06/2019
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publisher URL…lume-7?format=HB
Place of publicationCambridge

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Professor Claire Squires

Professor Claire Squires

Professor in Publishing Studies, English Studies