Now that I live in Los Angeles, not only was I able to attend the Festival, but I was also able to work with a couple bookstores to have our authors participate and do book signings at the booths. Hosting authors and doing signings myself for The Prince's Diary meant that I wasn't able to sit in on any panels, but I did have plenty of time to wander around and enjoy the perfect California weather.
Other than Book Expo, the LATFOB must have the highest concentration of authors and illustrators you'll ever see in one place. And if you're a book lover like me, as I assume you are, you get that giddy feeling of spying a celebrity whenever you see one. My first sighting occurs soon after my arrival at the Festival, when who did I run into but the Very Hungry Caterpillar himself? The man (or bug) of the hour?
Once I took my photo-op, I hurried on to the booth of East West Discovery Press, who was hosting most of the Shen's authors this weekend. East West Discovery Press is a publisher and retailer of multicultural and bilingual children's books. John Stickler and Soma Han were just finishing up their signing, and East West's owner told me that sales were looking good so far.
I think everyone was a little worried about the Festival this year, given the economic climate. However, throughout the weekend, I felt such pride and happiness to see thousands upon thousands of people show so much enthusiasm for books and buying books. People crowded in every booth, lines formed at every cash register. I was so happy to see that the slow economy did not show its face at all this weekend.
After my signing, I finally got to meet Malathi Michelle Iyengar as she arrived for her hour. We were stacked one after another, we were!
On Sunday, Dorina Lazo Gilmore arrived for her signing at both East West Discovery Press and Philippine Expressions, a wonderful mail-order bookstore that specializes in books about the Philippines and by Filipinos.
Because the East West booth was located in the children's area of the Festival, we had a good view of the children's stage and courtyard. I couldn't believe how many families were packed into this space! All those little readers clutching books as they ran around, or flipping pages while being pushed in a stroller, was just so heartwarming to see.
A memory: one boy looked at The Prince's Diary and I explained to him what it was about. "I want it," he cried to his mother. She replied that she didn't have her wallet, and they would have to ask Daddy. "But I want it!" he began to whine. "OK, we'll go find Daddy," she said. "I want it! I want it!" he cried as he follwed his mother away. I couldn't help but feel good, despite the minor tantrum, about this boy who wanted a book so badly. Happily, they were back in a few minutes with wallet in hand. The boy's beaming face as he walked away with his book make my job the best one in the world.