Posts Tagged ‘Guildford Book Festival 2013’

Guildford Book Festival 2013

November 4, 2013
Guildford Book Festival 2013

Guildford Book Festival 2013

One Tree Books stall

One Tree Books stall

Guildford Book Festival is an annual ten day event held mid-October in Guildford. This year 17-27 October 2013. It used to be worth attending, spoilt for choice, but in the last few years it has gone rapidly downhill. This year a new festival director, had he made a difference?

Before the festival began, I was receiving moronic tweets, including re-tweets of moronic drivel from some of the festival authors. In the days before the festival began it got worse and began to resemble spam. During the festival, it was not too bad, except now getting re-tweet of every sycophantic tweet from anyone who had been to a book festival event.

If anyone wants a case study in how not to use social media, then look no further than the Guildford Book Festival, as it is one of the worst examples I have seen in the use of twitter.

So bad was this drivel I was getting on twitter, that it put me off the festival.

But no, give the new bloke a chance. I looked through the programme. Ironically no mention of twitter in the festival programme, though maybe a mixed blessing.

It was not good. The best I could say was, a little improved than the last few years, and they were dire. There did seem to have been an effort to make the festival a little broader in its appeal.

I found two events that looked worth going to, a talk on Victorian London and the Amnesty talk on families of political detainees.

Victorian London was at the Electric Theatre at the strange time of midday.

I was pleased to find One Tree Books had a stall, especially as I had seen no mention of them in the festival programme. I queried this. It was pointed out their logo was printed.

Big deal. They should have, as official festival bookseller, received a mention, but I guess they wanted money for that.

I was disappointed to see the books were not being discounted, or at least not paperbacks, some of the hardbacks, maybe all, were discounted.

At least Waterstone’s has not this year thrown a childish tantrum. They did at least have a poster and a few books in their window.

Why is the Electric Theatre plugging teapigs? Rubbish tea, and no teapigs are not from an independent tea company. It is former Tetley executives and the company is 100% owned by Tata, an Indian global corporation that also owns Tetley.

What is it with the volunteers standing around in purple sashes? I could see no use for them whatsoever.

I was pleased to see the Electric Theatre has abandoned their extremely childish No Photography policy. It has now been replaced by a No Flash Photography policy.

Why the irritating TV chat show format? It is totally unnecessary, as was the waffle that preceded the talk, but once the talk started, the audience was held spellbound to learn of the London where Dickens walked the streets, less of the buildings, more of the people who were on the streets.

An excellent talk by Judith Flanders, and purely on the basis of her talk, I picked up a signed copy of The Victorian City.

The Victorian City looks well researched. My criticism is that it is a paperback, tiny print and poor quality illustrations. It cries out to be a high quality coffee table format.

The Amnesty talk was a grave disappointment. I arrived slightly late, which in many ways was an advantage, as I missed most of the pre-talk waffle.

What made the talk something of a disappointment, was not the calibre of the speaker, Victoria Brittain, or the subject matter, families of political detainees, but that it was very one-sided. The questions to her, were even more one-sided.

I picked up a signed copy of her book, Shadow Lives, maybe I will find it a little less one-sided.

No information or mention of the Arctic 30, the Greenpeace activists held for over a month in Russia nor of Pussy Riot. Of special concern no one knows the whereabouts of Nadya, not her lawyers or family.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of Pussy Riot, was put into a car on the 22 October. Her whereabouts remain unknown.

A pity and a lost opportunity, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head and left for dead by the Taliban, not invited to give the Amnesty talk.

Why were potential venues being told they would have to pay a fee, should they wish to host a book festival event?

Maybe that is why the Guildford Institute hosted nothing this year. Usually one or two events are held at the Guildford Institute.

If the Guildford Book Festival cannot get their act together, maybe it is time to launch a Guildford Fringe Book Festival.

During the summer, The Star Inn held a Fringe Summer Festival. By all accounts it was a huge success, and certainly their programme looked far more enticing than that for the official summer festival.

As the Guildford Book Festival shows no sign of improving any time soon, it is time to give serious thought to a Fringe Guildford Book Festival for October 2014.

A wish list: Paulo Coelho, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Canon Andrew White, Martha Payne, Malala Yousafzai, Rob Bell …

Plus there are local writers, local poets.

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