Inaugural Bay Area Book Festival
In partnership with the San Francisco Chronicle
When: June 6, 7, 2015
Where: Ten-block area near the downtown Berkeley BART station between Shattuck Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Kim Stinson
Cy Ashley Webb photo
Kim Stinson Serrano helps a friend puzzle through the names of bones on the spinner at Berkeley’s Inaugural Bay Area Book Festival.
One for the books: Berkeley’s
Bay Area Book Festival
Inaugural event covered ten blocks with literacy
June 13, 2015

If you came to the Inaugural Bay Area Book Festival, looking for history, art, literature, science or any of the more conventional literary genres, you might have had to duck into Half-Price Books or Moe’s, down the road. The Inaugural Bay Area Book Festival — which spanned ten square blocks — was divided into adult areas dubbed "Radical Row," "Mind/Body Blvd," "Writer’s Row," "Maker’s Lane," and "Literary Lane," with huge, sprawling sections for children and teens.

stay horny for art
Cy Ashley Webb photo
tNY Press, whose small poster is shown here, claims to provide storytelling for the modern brain.

These unorthodox divisions weren’t the rule when it came to the festival’s 50,000-book public art installation called the Lacuna, where hundreds flocked, bringing home armloads of free books. While a few bare spaces along the walls — entirely constructed with books — opened up by the end of Saturday, thousands of volumes remained for Sunday’s visitors.

The festival's 145 keynote speakers included Google’s Laszlo Bock, who spoke at Freight & Salvage. Other celebs included Peter Coyote and Daniel Handler, who spoke at the Brower Center, and Judy Blume, who spoke at Berkeley Community Theatre. Many speakers, such as Narrative Technologies’ CEO Lise Quintana, spoke about the intersection between publishing and technology.

Curiously, the heart of the festival could be found among the 42 vendors in the kids' section, and the 13-over on "Teen Street." Here, start-ups such as Dromedary Press almost entirely crowded out more traditional brick-and-mortar institutions like Mrs. Dalloway’s.

Dr Bonyfide
Cy Ashley Webb photo
Dr. Bonyfide greets visitors to the Know Yourself booth where kids explore the skeleton.

Despite the unending parade of illustrators, storytellers, and authors occupying the kids' stage, some of the most exciting could be found at the Know Yourself booth, where Dr. Bonyfide (Jin An Wong), president of Know Yourself, held court with his fans. Know Yourself recently released two engaging kids’ books — one describing bones of the hand, and the other about bones of the feet. While kids quizzically eyed Dr. Bonyfide’s oversized skull, others scrambled to spin the wheel marked with bones as Kim Stinson Serrano helped her young charges figure out the bone’s precise location in the body.

This wasn’t all about kids though — and it wasn’t all about conventional books. Tiny posters, exhorting readers to "Stay Horny for Art," enticed readers into the tNY Press booth. Editor Christopher Morgan explained that tNY Press has published over 1,500 stories since it was founded in 2010.

In addition to the start-up crowd, self-published authors hawked their works. Certified etiquette consultant Rosemary Burns and co-author Linda Reed beamed over a table presenting a single volume, "Which Fork Do I Use? Confident and Comfortable Dining," a hardcover work, heavily illustrated with gajillions of photos that just came out in November 2014.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Berkeley without the usual suspects. A half block of Allston dubbed "Radical Row" was home to a booth from Revolution Books, which seeks funds to move to a new address on Durant. Near by, the Berkeley Post Office Defense lay claim to the post office on Allston, announcing "Our Post Office is NOT for Sale."

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Reed, Williams, Burns
Cy Ashley Webb photo
Linda Reed, Kathy Lee Williams and Rosemary Burns display their new book, "Which Fork Do I Use?"
Jim Rosenau
Cy Ashley Webb photo
Craftsman and comedy writer Jim Rosenau stands in front of clocks and shelves — all made from books.


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