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Printer’s Row Lit Fest — June 9th and 10th, 2012

It’s almost here, friends.  The Chicago Tribune’s big ol’ annual booknerd block party, Printer’s Row.  Held this year on June 9th and 10th, there will be author events, and there will be readers, and oh geez there will be so many good books at amazing prices from Chicago’s fantastic assortment of bookstores.

I’m very excited.

Indeed.  Last year, very pregnant, I left with bags of books and got to hear some wonderful authors speak.

For more information, and (FYI!) to get tickets for any of the indoor events, go to the site.

If you’re interested in volunteering, here’s your chance.


My thoughts on the Chicago Tribune’s new Printer’s Row Journal


Those fine folks over at the Chicago Tribune are trying something new; pulling their literary section out of the actual paper and making it a stand-alone part of the paper available to subscribers who upgrade their subscriptions.  Will subscribers go for it? Who knows?  (It’s another $100 a year, which may be off-putting to some folks, but again – who knows.)

This past Sunday, a preview edition of the new journal – dubbed “Printer’s Row” – was distributed with the regular newspaper, and I happily snagged one.

I really like it, honestly.

I mean, I’m always a fan of books getting more press, and Printer’s Row showcases many new releases, as well as people and events happening in the literary world, with a focus on Chicago.

There’s a “Hot off the Press” column by Elizabeth Taylor, which is meant to talk about upcoming titles and soon to be released books.  There are big features on Dave Eggers and Sara Paretsky, several reviews, “News from the Chicago Literary Scene,” a list of the best sellers, and information for book clubs, among other things.  Also, there’s a whole page article about Sara Levine’s new book, “Treasure Island,” which was of special interest to me since it’s #1 on my “Things I need to read” list at present.  (FYI – I’m planning to keep it local/shop indie and purchase it from The Book Cellar this coming week. So there.)

In addition to the journal itself, subscribers will get a stand-alone book each week, too.  For this initial release, we get Billy Lombardo’s short story, “Clover,” which is an entertaining read about an English teacher.  Lombardo himself is an English Literature/Creative Writing teacher in Chicago, so again the Trib is keeping it local.

“Printer’s Row” isn’t for everyone, but for the booknerds of the Windy City it’s a really good effort.  Here’s hoping the Trib folks flesh it out a little more and are able to keep it going.

Printer’s Row – free preview issue with today’s Chicago Tribune!


For those who like hard copies, check out the free preview copy of the new Printer’s Row journal in today’s Chicago Tribune.  Also, there’s a copy of “Clover” by Billy Lombardo – part of the Trib’s new journal as well.  It’s certainly pretty, and I can’t wait to read it.

A (free) look at the Tribune’s new Printer’s Row section.

Curious about the new literary section of the Chicago Tribune?

Take a look inside.

Do you think it’s worth the money? (For Tribune subscribers, adding this will be another $99 a year, while it’ll cost non-subscribers $149 for a year. Subscribing will also gain you acccess to special author events.)

Coming February 26th to Tribune subscribers – Printer’s row.


My bad.  I thought it launched today.  But here’s what (I think) it’ll look like.

Printer’s Row Lit Fest 2011 – Recap!

I have lived in Chicago for over six years now, and each year I have (for a variety of reasons) been unable to attend the annual Printer’s Row Lit Fest.  Either I was out of town, or had to work, or was doing something-or-other that kept me away.  As a BookNerd, this broke my heart. Finally, stars aligned and I was able to attend the 2011 event to see what all the hullabaloo was about.

A stretch south of the loop that’s a cornerstone of the Chicago publishing industry, Printer’s Row is a pleasant area full of bars/restaurants, lovely architecture, and rare book stores.  Located only a few blocks away from the imposing and formidable Harold Washington Public Library, it’s a landmark area for book nerds like myself.  The annual festival brings together book sellers, readers, and writers in a weekend festival of the printed word.  This was the 27th time the festival has been held.

(Pregnant Lady, ready to brave the heat in the name of books.)

Saturday’s weather forecast was heat and thunderstorms, so I threw an umbrella in my bag, loaded up on sunblock and headed out the door early with my good friends Amanda and Dan.  We got there right as the fest opened, and as such managed to score some really great books at great prices before the stacks started to get picked over by rabid readers.

With frequent hydration breaks due to the sweltering heat, we made our way through the numerous booths of booksellers.

Some of course put on more impressive displays than others.  We were super impressed with the Open Books booth, which came as no surprise.  In addition to having one of the biggest, best-priced collection of books, all their proceeds go to literacy programs – which is totally a noble cause.

In addition to book sellers, there were some authors on hand signing copies of their books, as well as a handmade jewelry maker and some other clever booths.  Like Acura.  Who would have thought a car company would be willing to sponsor a booth at a street festival that has nothing to do with cars?  Yet, there they were with a car filled with books and a raffle you could enter by guessing how many books it would take to fill one of their vehicles.

My purchases:  I think I spent a whopping $25 to score copies of E.L. Doctorow’s “The March,” Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimajarao and Other Stories,” an anthology called The Best American Travel Writing 2005,” and a gorgeous children’s book called “A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travellers” by Nancy Willard.   There were so many great deals to be found.  In addition, I purchased a fascinating item – “A La Card” – a deck of 52 cards, each of which is a description of a Chicago restaurant and a $10 coupon to the restaurant.

Dan’s haul:  I talked Dan into buying Christopher Moore’s “A Dirty Job” and E.L. Doctorow’s “Homer and Langley,” which delighted me. He also got a collection of stories about female sleuths.  He also made my day by purchasing the above baby tee for my yet-unborn child. (If ever a kid was destined to be a book lover, it’s this one.)

Amanda’s haul:  Amanda went looking for specific books, namely Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure,” which she ended finding in an adorable 1954 hardcover edition for $3. Her quest for Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park” proved fruitless, but she wound with a really great hardcover edition of “Pride and Prejudice,” so she was pleased. (In typical used book shopping fashion, Austen sells out fast.)  She also left with a book about Henry V’s wives, and a copy of Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.”

Had the heat been less intense, we likely would have popped into the numerous tents to catch a few more authors speaking, but wandering the streets where the breeze was seemed a better idea.  However, upon hearing that Chicago Tribune theatre-dude Chris Jones was going to be interviewing playwright/writer David Henry Hwang, Dan and I knew we had to attend.

Jones and Hwang led a super interesting panel, during which Hwang’s work was discussed in-depth, including his new play “Chinglish” which is getting it’s premier at The Goodman Theatre this season.  Hwang spoke about his work on Disney Broadway musicals, his interest in exploring issues of multiculturalism, his masterpiece/most famous work, “M. Butterfly” and hinted that a major revival may be in the early stages.

Here’s a couple brief videos of the conversation.

At the end of the panel, the heat had gotten to us, so we took  off for a late lunch before heading home.

(By the By, once we were on the bus it started to rain.  So that umbrella I hauled all day DID come in handy.  My advice to those attending outdoor events in Chicago:  Weather changes fast, so always be prepared)

I returned to the fest for a bit in the morning on Sunday to get some more great last-day book deals as well as to attend a panel featuring authors Wendy McClure and Kelly O’Connor McNees in conversation with Megan Stielstra.  Ms. O’Connor McNees (who’s written a book about Louisa May Alcott) had food poisoning and was unable to attend, but McClure delivered.  I read her hilarious weight-loss memoir, “I’m not the new me” several years ago and have kept it on my shelf ever since.

McClure has written a new book, “The Wilder Life,” about her Laura Ingalls Wilder/Little House on the Prairie fandom.  (I’ll be reviewing that shortly, as well as sharing a great video of her reading from that book.)

Below, Wendy McClure talks about her twittering as Laura Ingalls Wilder. 🙂

I scored some more fantastic deals on books, too.  Faulkner, Judy Blume, William Peter Blatty, some parenting books, and more wound up in my bag. Yes, I left overloaded.

Overall, the weekend was great.  The weather cooperated and everyone seemed in a good mood.  I will definitely return next year – though I’ll be pushing a stroller, so we’ll see how that goes – and am looking forward to another great weekend.

UPDATED! Printer’s Row Book Fair 2011…

**UPDATE: Dear Readers — I am a moron, and the list of events I was using was from 2004.  I know, right? So, please ignore what used to be posted here – and please visit the very up to date and super official Chicago Tribune schedule for Printer’s Row Book Fair 2011. Where you can find an ACTUAL schedule for THIS year’s event. Totally my bad. Blame my pregnant brain.**


Volunteer for the Printer’s Row Lit Fest 2011!

Open Books is seeking volunteers for the 2011 Printers Row Lit Fest – happening June 4th & 5th, 2011!