Books

Central Coast Book and Author Festival is canceled, organizers say

A zombie parade at Mission Plaza welcomed author Jonathan Maberry to the Central Coast Book and Author Festival in 2011. A horror professional, Maberry has spun stories featuring zombies, vampires and werewolves. Readers covered in fake blood showed up to support him. Zombie etiquette was mandatory.
A zombie parade at Mission Plaza welcomed author Jonathan Maberry to the Central Coast Book and Author Festival in 2011. A horror professional, Maberry has spun stories featuring zombies, vampires and werewolves. Readers covered in fake blood showed up to support him. Zombie etiquette was mandatory. jmellom@thetribunenews.com

The Central Coast Book and Author Festival has been canceled, perhaps indefinitely, according to organizers.

“Right now, we can’t say if we’re ever going to do it again or not,” said Vera Wallen, president of the Foundation for San Luis Obispo County Public Libraries. “We have not committed to doing it next year.”

Wallen acknowledged that the free fundraiser, typically held in September in downtown San Luis Obispo, has been an annual hit with book lovers. However, she said, the foundation’s 13 board members simply don’t have the strength to keep it going.

The festival was canceled once before, in 2008.

Launched in 2000, the Book and Author Festival has featured panel discussions, workshops and readings by a variety of writers, as well as a book fair and children's activities.

Past participants have included "Pay It Forward" novelist Catherine Ryan Hyde of Cambria, historical nonfiction writer Vicki León of Morro Bay, and “Rubes” cartoonist Leigh Rubin of Nipomo.

Arroyo Grande cartoonist Jerry Scott, who writes the nationally syndicated comic strips “Baby Blues” and “Zits,” was the keynote speaker at last year’s festival, which netted $8,000.

Unfortunately, Wallen said, that wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the time and energy the foundation members — and their 77 volunteers — poured into the event.

Instead of a full festival this year, the group is hosting a free presentation and book signing by travel journalists Judith Fein and Paul Ross on Sept. 18 at the San Luis Obispo Public Library. The event coincides with the Central Coast Writers’ Conference, Sept. 21 and 22 at Cuesta College.

Formed in 1998, the Foundation for San Luis Obispo County Public Libraries supports local libraries countywide through advocacy, fundraising and grants benefiting everything from e-books to new library buildings in Atascadero and Cambria.

The nonprofit organization also supplies award books to teens and children who participate in the San Luis Obispo City-County Library’s Summer Reading Program.

Wallen said the foundation is looking into hiring a part-time executive who would help with planning and decision making.

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