LA Times Festival of Book News: Book Buses, Panels and a Giveaway

by Patrick on April 6, 2009

People in New York like to talk a lot of trash about their literary culture.  They take special joy in ridiculing the vapid, shallow movie-based culture of Los Angeles (So much so that we even made a t-shirt in rebuttal).  Sure many of the major publishing houses are located in New York, and yes, lots of writers call the Big Apple home.  But Los Angeles has a few things going for it when it comes to the written word, too, you know.  Plenty of great writers have made LA or Southern California their home, and we’ve had our share of classic books set here, too.

Each year in April, Los Angeles shows off its literary stuff at the LA Times Festival of Books.  The Festival features panels on subjects like “Mysteries in Black and White” and “Sports:  The Athlete as Role Model.”  There are stages featuring readings and talks by dozens of fabulous authors and celebrities, literary and non.  This year, the LA Times is running a new collaborative serial as a lead up to the festival.  And best of all, the local independent bookstores set up shop, hosting booth signings and selling all sorts of interesting books and gifts.

Vroman’s will be taking part in the festival in a number of ways this year.  First of all, we are once again running our popular Book Buses to the Festival of Books on Saturday, April 25.  What are book buses?  Each year for the past eight years, Vroman’s has run buses to and from the festival on Saturday.  Everybody who signs up for the bus gets a light breakfast of bagels and juice, then rides the bus to the festival, skipping the lousy traffic and even better, avoiding the huge hassle of parking in Westwood.  Each bus is hosted by an author who discusses his or her books and takes questions from the audience.  At the end of the day, everybody piles back onto the buses and rides home, tired but happy.  At the end of the day, each bus rider gets a bag loaded with free books and a coupon good for 20% off at Vroman’s for the next few days.

The authors on this year’s buses are pretty terrific.  Charlie Huston hosts the Mystery Bus, where he’ll regale passengers with tales of crime scene cleanup crews and much more from his book The Mystic Arts of Removing All Signs of Death.  Gustavo Arellano, author of Ask a Mexican and Orange County:  A Personal History, hosts our second bus.  Jerrilyn Farmer, author of Murder at the Academy Awards, will host the third bus, while bestselling thriller writer Gregg Hurwitz, whose latest book is The Crime Writer, hosts the fourth bus.  To sign up for one of the buses, just give us a call at 626-449-5320.

Vroman’s will also have a booth at the Festival of Books (Booth 367!), where we’ll be hosting an incredible group of authors, including Joseph Wambaugh, David Horvath, Pico Iyer, Jann Robbins, Andrew Sean Greer and many more.  We’ll have a selection of some new and noteworthy books as well as popular recommended titles from our massive inventory.  Stop by and meet the Vroman’s booksellers (including me!).  For a complete schedule of our booth signings, click here.

Finally, I will be participating in a panel called Publishing 3.0 with industry luminaries like Sara Nelson, former Editor-in-Chief of Publishers Weekly, Otis Chandler, founder of, and Richard Nash, the former head of Soft Skull Press.  The panel will be moderated by LA Times book editor David Ulin.  We will be discussing nothing less than the future of the printed word and what place that future holds for publishers, journalists and booksellers.  The panel is on Saturday at 1:30 in Humanities A51.  Stop by for some interesting conversation.  And if you’re at the Festival and using Twitter, remember to mark your tweets with the LA Times Festival of Books hashtag #LATfob.

Because we are so excited about this year’s festival, we are running a very special drawing.  We will give away a pair of tickets to ride on our famous book bus to the festival to some lucky reader. To enter the contest, please email us at email at vromansbookstore dot com with the subject line LATFOB. The contest will run until the end of the day Sunday, April 12, with the winner being picked at random next Monday morning.  Vroman’s employees and their relatives are ineligible to win.  Emailing us is the ONLY way to enter the drawing.

This is a $110 value we’re giving away here, folks, but the experience is really priceless.  I rode on one of the buses last year with the very entertaining Christopher Rice, and I had a blast.  On the way home, we did trivia and cookies.  It was way, way better than driving myself.