Book Festival enjoys 'most successful year ever'
Proving more popular than ever before, Edinburgh International Book Festival drew huge crowds in August and thrilled audiences with its 2016 programme, themed Imagine Better.
And 'Better' was a thoroughly apt description, as the festival exceeded even its past achievements to attract around 230,000 visits to Charlotte Square Gardens, while increasing event ticket sales by 3.5% and seeing book sales rise by 3%. Across 17 days, on-site bookshops sold an incredible 62,000 books, the highest figure in the 33 years of the Book Festival.
Commenting on his festival's latest incarnation, Festival Director Nick Barley said:
We have enjoyed an unbelievably brilliant festival with astonishing vitality and joy expressed by authors and audiences alike...
The whole story is too big and too extraordinary to be expressed in numbers alone. Going into the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a Festival city I truly believe we have never been healthier and stronger than we are now.
Highlighting that the increasing success of the festival was down to the quality and range of its programme, he added:
Our enthusiastic audiences engaged with authors from every genre, welcomed exclusive previews of upcoming new books from Jonathan Safran Foer, Alan Cumming, Mark Thompson and Ray Mears, as well as enjoying first sightings of new writing from Philippa Gregory, James Kelman and Eimear McBride.
We’ve explored stories of migration, seeking refuge and resettlement, we’ve looked at Europe, the UK and Scotland in light of the recent Brexit vote, and heard from some literary legends.
As always, the Book Festival blended excellent entertainment with strong debate and passionate ideas, in a programme which included Scottish Makar Jackie Kay, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, children’s author Judith Kerr, American feminist icon Erica Jong, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, Great British Bake Off Host Sue Perkins, musician Tim Burgess, Human Rights lawyer Philippe Sands and Egyptian novelist Alaa al Aswany among hundreds of others.
In all, over 800 writers, illustrators, poets, politicians and philosophers from across the world took part on the Festival, with 55 countries represented.
There was chance for new talent to shine as 45 debut novels and short story collections were featured, including work from Nigeria, Spain, Hungary and the USA.
And emphasising the themes of travel and hope for a better future, the short stories of Alice Munro were transformed into a hugely successful theatrical performance, The View From Castle Rock, telling a fictionalised account of Munro's relatives who left Scotland for the New World. The play, adapted by Stellar Quines, had a sellout run in August, before making a short tour of the Borders.
The 2017 Edinburgh International Book Festival will run from Saturday 12 August to Monday 28 August 2017, with the programme announced in June. Find out more about the Festival here.
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