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What to know before you go: AJC Decatur Book Festival

Book shopping during DBF 2007. Expect a bigger crowd this year. AJC file photo

In four years, the AJC Decatur Book Festival has grown into one of the largest gatherings of lit lovers in the United States. Some 70,000 people attended last year and with more scheduled authors and events at this weekend’s festival, expect even more.

The whole operation runs on the passion of readers and logistical wizardry, which means it’s easy to be overwhelmed, whether you’re dropping by to get a book signed or moving in Friday to stay the whole weekend. Use this guide to help you get started. Meanwhile, if any DBF veterans in the crowd have tips or recommendations, share in the comments!

Bookzilla attacks!

Here’s a printable map of the Decatur Book Festival stages, street fair and activities, plus a list of exhibitors.

There are so many readings, signings, performances fashion shows, cooking demos, wrestling matches, the DBF is best enjoyed with a little planning ahead. Check out the full schedule online, check out the printer-friendly version at the bottom of that page. You can also pick up one of the thousands of DBF tabs dropped around Decatur — it’s the one with our lizard friend Bookzilla on the front. There’s a schedule inside.

Most Decatur Book Festival events are free and open to the public. Here are a few exceptions:

  • The keynote address by Sir Harold Evans at 8 p.m. Friday at Agnes Scott’s Presser Hall is free, but requires a ticket. Tickets are still available at local book shops.
  • A Sunday morning children’s Mariachi Brunch at El Tesoro is a ticketed event and is sold out, but anyone can participate in the Skippjon Jones children’s promenade to the Square at noon. (Meanwhile, the Saturday children’s parade featuring author Loren Long and an “Otis”-tractor theme is free and open to the public. It starts at 9 a.m. at the Fidelity Bank, 160 Clairemont Ave.)
  • The “Celebrating Eudora” concert with Caroline Herring, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Claire Holley and Kate Campbell at 8 p.m. Saturday at Agnes Scott’s Presser Hall is a ticketed event and is sold out.
  • The Southern Foodways Alliance Picnic at 6 p.m. Sunday costs $10 per plate, although you can bring your own food, hang out and listen to some bluegrass.
  • Eddie’s Attic will host a few ticketed weekend performances attached to the festival, including David Olney, Paul Sanchez and Diane Durrett on Saturday and Marshall Chapman and Jill McCorkle on Sunday.

There isn’t any DBF-specific parking. Instead, festival organizers ask drivers to rely on the lots, decks and metered spaces around downtown. Here’s a map of Decatur parking. (Meters are enforced Monday-Saturday; some of them have a pay-by-cell-phone option that’s easy to use.) Heed the signs that say “No Parking.” Even if it’s a big empty lot in the thick of festival activities, you can expect your car to be booted or towed.

I often recommend MARTA For busy public events, but it really doesn’t get easier than this. Most DBF activities are in the heart of downtown Decatur, within a few blocks of the Decatur MARTA station. If you don’t want to tangle with parking or traffic, there’s free parking available at other MARTA stations, including East Lake immediately to the west and Avondale Estates to the east. You can plan your trip on

Tweeting from the festival? Attach the official festival hashtag, #bookzilla, to your Twitter messages. The official Decatur Book Festival Twitter is @dbookfestival and I’ll be tweeting the weekend on @insideaccess. There’s also a festival Tweetup at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Twain’s, 211 E. Trinity in Decatur. Blogging? Here’s info about the Decatur Book Festival Blog Tent.

There’s a lot going on, so reality isn’t always as simple as the schedule. Here are schedule changes we know of already:

  • Author Marc Wortman will appear at 4:15 p.m. Saturday at the Decatur Library Stage for an event called “The Siege and Burning of Atlanta.”
  • Luis Albert Urreal canceled due to some “unexpected family obligations.” Gina Nahai will still appear during that event, “The Enigma of Iran: Faith, Fundamentalism and Fiction” at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
  • Robyn Spizman canceled after she injured herself and had to reschedule some appearances. Lauren Weber will still appear at 10 a.m. Saturday for the event, “In Cheap We Trust.”

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

3 comments Add your comment

[...] and performances. If you need a break from the downtown-version of crazy, check out the lit-crazy Decatur Book Festival, just a few MARTA stops away — most events are free and open to the public. Some even involve [...]

[...] I doubt print-on-demand will solve all of journalism’s troubles, nor do I think every open-information agenda is evil. Evans began more than one sentence with “Young people today…” which always makes me a little nervous about where the conversation is going. Optimism is still priceless. I could listen to that man talk all weekend. Alas, Evans has already left Atlanta, but there are still days of programming left at the book festival. Here’s info about what to know before you go. [...]

[...] Books: AJC Decatur Book Festival gathers authors, readers, musicians and others together for a family-friendly weekend of literature loving through Sept. 4-6, downtown Decatur. Know Before You Go info. [...]