The Decatur Book Festival has been a staple of metro Atlanta’s literary scene for some 15 years, attracting thousands to various venues throughout Decatur for readings, meet and greets, writing workshops, book sales and a myriad of other book-related events. That tradition has come to an end as the festival has been cancelled for 2023.
Decatur Book Festival organizers, however, promise that the stoppage is temporary, and they expect to revive the traditional end-of-summer event in 2024.
“As an organization, we have always been committed to bringing the literary community together and showcasing the best in literature,” states a message on the book festival’s website. “This commitment has prompted our team to take a step back and reevaluate short- and long-term festival planning and operations to solidify our ability to deliver stellar programming.
“Our goal is to create a sustainable and thriving organization that will continue to bring the best in literature to our community for years to come,” states the message in part. “We appreciate your support and understanding during this time and look forward to coming back stronger than ever.”
The Decatur Book Festival, described as one of the largest independent book festivals in the country, was started in 2006 after Decatur resident and DBF founder Daren Wang, posed the question about celebrating the spoken and written word. Joined by literature-lovers including Tom Bell, Linda Harris, Richard Lenz, Alice Murray, Bill Starr, and Judy Turner, Wang brought his idea to life through the annual book festival, according to the website.
Since 2006, the festival, which mostly has been presented during Labor Day weekend, has brought more than 3,500 authors to Decatur and has had an average of 60,000 attendees. At one time, the festival was spread out in 15 venues and was operated with the assistance of more than 900 volunteers, the website states.
Last year’s event was held at First Baptist Church of Decatur with 15 sessions in adult fiction, adult nonfiction and children and youth.
One partner of the Decatur Book Festival, where festival events were held yearly, expressed heartbreak about the cancellation decision.
“The DBF has always been such a memorable weekend for us every year, not only as booksellers but also as longtime residents of Decatur,” said Diane Capriola-Little, co-owner of Little Shop of Stories on Court Square in Decatur. “While the pace of the weekend was often frantic, the chance to welcome the best in children and YA [young adult] literature to our fine town was an absolute thrill for us.”
The bookstore has been affiliated with the festival since the festival’s first year, she said.
“We helped plan a very small program for children that year, and the response was so great that the Children’s stage grew the following year, said Capriola-Little, who served as the festival’s children’s and teen program manager from 2013 through 2019.
Asked why the festival has grown in popularity, Capriola-Little stated, “Decatur is a book loving town! Reading is such an integral part of our lives, both in our homes and in our schools.”
She added that Little Shop of Stories is planning to hold some special events in the fall near the time that the festival is normally held. “We are planning our first ever Children’s Literature Breakfast—this will happen at some point in October, and we hope to announce specific details later this spring.”