The Chicago Tribune Printer's Row Lit Fest/Book Fair was this weekend. I went yesterday with a friend of mine. As we prepared to cross the street to the start of the tents and displays, I looked around at those who also waited to cross the street and at the others who were already passing the sawhorses that demarcated the entrance. I asked my friend what she thought might be the median age of the attendees. She answered immediately: "37." I agreed with her.
We arrived around 1P on an overcast and coolish day, immediately plunging into the throng. We soon decided to pass by the first few stalls because everyone seemed to have stopped at them. Soon we settled into a sort of rhythm as we bent our heads to look at book spines, bumped into others as intent as we on the lines and shelves of books.
I did buy a few book there because, well, $7 for a $14 paperback is a good deal and while I could check it out of the library, I'd forget it was something I was interested in and that would be one more title on one more list. I mean, my Netflix queue list is ridiculously long, so I bought them. Never mind that the stacks of books around my house are ridiculous.
But I noticed a couple of things. First, people were generally very polite, apologizing for bumping to each other and making way for egress and entrance in the crowded stalls.
Second, my friend and I were wrong about the median age. There were a LOT of young people at the book fest. Of course, the lit fest/book fair is scheduled after most colleges and universities are out so most of those were college students. There is a tremendous draw because there are big name authors present for presentations and book signings. But I was pleasantly surprised to see so many kids at the book fest. I felt reassured that reading is not completely passe and mused that perhaps we have been too quick to begin to mourn the death of the books.