The City Council decided in February to put the book fair on hiatus, citing the rising cost of the event and its declining attendance. A report by city staffers said attendance at last year’s fair fell by a third while city spending on the event grew by 38 percent to $150,000. While the book fair once attracted an estimated 15,000 people, attendance has fallen in recent years to 7,500, and last year it attracted only 5,000 people, the staff report said.
For the last three years, the city has contracted with the Authentic Agency, a West Hollywood-based event producer owned by Liam Lynch, to produce the book fair. City Councilmember John Heilman, a creator of the book fair, which launched in 2002, criticized Authentic at the February Council meeting for what he said was its poor management and promotion of the event.
Heilman is proposing that the Council authorize spending of $125,000 for the event this fall and establish a committee consisting of members from the city’s Economic Development, Arts and Cultural Affairs and Public Information departments to plan it. Councilmember John D’Amico earlier had proposed a more modest event such as a single performance or book reading by a noted entertainer or author on the book fair weekend.
At its peak, the book fair has drawn over 10,000 attendees and more than 150 authors. The Council will consider Heilman’s proposal at its meeting Monday night.