The Southern Festival of Books went very well. The weather was lovely (except for Friday, but that didn’t seem to dampen too many moods) and I got to see a bunch of people I know and talk books and it was really lovely.
There was just a general mood of optimism that was nice. Everyone seems to think that things are going to be much different in the book industry and no one knows how but there’s less “we’re all going to die” about it.
I’ve also noticed the beginnings of a split (so, the fact that I’ve noticed it makes it certain the split has been happening for a while) in the “self-publishing” world. Somehow, the “I published this because no one else would because it sucks” and the “I published this because no one else would because, for as much as the publishing industry talks about the importance of diversity, it’s really hard to get a book with a protagonist like x or a setting like y or a plot like z published through traditional means” books are differentiating themselves from each other. Even at a place like the Southern Festival of Books, which is solely focused on traditionally published works.
I also think it’s both surprising and not surprising (considering the good work Chet and Ben are doing over at Third Man) to see that we’re back in an era when poetry matters. Who would have thought, even five years ago, that the most interesting discussions about what it means to be a person and an artist would be happening in poetry?
It really felt like people were resolved to just persevere in telling good stories to each other and that made me feel good and optimistic about things too.