Sunday, January 19, 2003

BookMania! a rousing success story
By Christine Selvaggi staff writer
The Stuart News
January 19, 2003

Book enthusiasts, a group of authors with growing notoriety, and a bit of marketing helped make the ninth annual BookMania! a success beyond expectations, according to organizers.

The book festival commenced Friday at the Blake Library in Stuart with a much-anticipated lecture by crime fiction author Elmore Leonard. It ends today at 7 p.m. with a performance of "The Tender Nights of F. Scott Fitzgerald."

"Each year, the caliber of writers gets higher and higher," said Judi Snyder, library community relations coordinator. "We're thinking about space for next year."

Snyder said a book festival's biggest draw is the lecturing authors, which this year included Leonard and Edna Buchanan, a suspense novelist and Pulitzer prize-winning crime reporter.

"This is a small community, and it's amazing they can put on this presentation," Boca Raton resident Stacy Alesi said. "It's very impressive."

As Alesi waited in line for Buchanan to autograph her newest title, "The Ice Maiden," the Miami Herald reporter chatted about the "victory garden" she planted after Sept. 11 and her guess on the whereabouts of missing child Rilya Wilson.

"The audience here was very responsive because we're all Floridians," Buchanan said.

Buchanan's book, along with others, sold steadily throughout the fair, with one title unexpectedly selling out.

"We're doing a considerable amount better than last year," said Dale Kostakos, community relations manager with Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

Snyder attributed the numbers to increased marketing, which included mailing 3,000 BookMania! fliers weeks in advance to hype the event.

"We doubled the size of the brochure and it was massive campaigning," she said.

Snyder added that brainstorming already has begun for next year's festival. She thinks it will surpass the success that the little library in Stuart found this weekend.

"We want to accommodate the people," she said.


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