Monday, September 26, 2011

Countdown to Southern Festival of Books 2011: Three Weeks -- Session Schedule & New Website!

2011 SFB Poster by Nashville artist Bryce McCloud
The Southern Festival of Books is only three weeks away, and just in time for attendees to take advantage of it, Festival organizers Humanities Tennessee revamped their website and added features that make it easy to plan your time at the Festival.

Specifically, they've added a feature that allows you to peruse the SFB schedule -- posted last week --  and create your own custom schedule. Festival goers simply register for a free account on the Humanities Tennessee website, then visit the schedule page and follow their directions:
Once you have [signed in], there will be an option called Attend Session. Simply click that button to the side of any session, and a personalized list of your preferred sessions will be created for you to view and to print. 
At the top of the sessions schedule is a button called My Sessions, which leads you to your personal schedule.

They have also made the online schedule interactive in other ways for the first time in the Festival's history, as users can also "click on the author name in a session to view that author’s bio, title, and website information" (via the website).

Both of these options are amazing additions for a type-A personality like mine. In the past, I have begun combing the author list months ahead of time, researching upcoming book releases and author websites in order to plan my own schedule for the Festival. Although the schedule would appear online in the weeks just before the Festival, I usually printed it, then also wrote all over my Festival program and schedule during SFB. There have without a doubt been sessions I missed, even with my meticulous planning.

This tool makes it nearly impossible, as even co-current sessions can be listed on your own session schedule. That way you can see exactly what's going on and choose according to which is most important.

Also great for nerdy bookworms like myself (and multiple-year Festival-goers), Humanities Tennessee has created an Archive feature which allows users to view schedules from all previous years of the Festival.

Friday seems to be a big day this year, although it's usually a day I largely forego because of work. This year I just may have to take one of my days off in order to attend, because I can't bear the thoughts of missing River Jordan, Stewart O'Nan, or Michael Lee West -- all of whom will appear on Friday only.

Additionally, as up-to-date technology seems to be the way things are going this year, Humanities Tennessee also announced this week that the first-ever SFB mobile app will be launched before the start of the Festival. According to their website, it "will allow users to navigate the Festival site, locate parking, and build personal schedules of authors and events." Utter awesomeness!

I'll be tweeting live from the Festival, I'm sure. So be forewarned if you follow me on Twitter! And which sessions will I be attending definitively? Here's a quick "must" list, although obviously others will be added:

River Jordan (part of a panel on faith)
Michael Lee West (with Crazy in Alabama author Mark Childress)

Erin Morgenstern (author of the much-hyped upcoming debut novel The Night Circus)

Clyde Edgerton

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