Annual Authors Among Us Book Fair Highlights Chautauqua-based Authors

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After a move to Bestor Plaza last year, the Authors Among Us book fair will undergo another change in its fourth year on the grounds: it’s starting earlier.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday on Bestor Plaza. The book fair is sponsored by the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends, and is co-chaired this year by Linda Rocker and Norma Rees. Rees is the vice president of the Friends and Rocker is one of the authors who will be presenting their work.

Fred Zirm, president of the Friends and interim program director of the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, said the time shift felt like a smart decision after an observation he made at last year’s event.

“I discovered when I set up last year that there are lots of people around from 11 a.m. to noon, but we weren’t running yet,” Zirm said.

The time change also means the book fair will be running at the same time as the Chautauqua Crafts Alliance Festival, something Zirm hopes will be beneficial for everyone involved.

“I was pleased that the Institution and the crafts fair agreed to it,” Zirm said. “They saw it as synergy, not competition. I don’t imagine a lot of people saying, ‘I thought I wanted to buy a pot, but I’m going to go buy a book instead.’ ”

Authors Among Us is meant to introduce Chautauquans to local authors and their works. Twelve authors have been confirmed for this year’s event and will have their works available for purchase.

Zirm said getting to speak with the writer behind the work enhances the experience of buying a book.

“Writers like to be read, and one way they get read is if they sell their books,” Zirm said. “It’s nice to make them a little more visible. When you make a personal connection — putting a face to the name on the book — you’re a little more likely to buy the book than if you’re just passing it on a shelf in the bookstore.”

Authors Among Us also gets at the heart of what Chautauqua is all about, Zirm said. He believes Chautauqua is a community of both listeners and doers.

“The book fair highlights people who have listened, absorbed and then gone out and done something,” Zirm said. “And that’s a good model for everything on the grounds.”

One of his favorite parts of the event, Zirm said, is seeing the interactions between authors and readers and feeling like he’s helped it happen.

“Not to mention the lemonade,” Zirm said.


The author Ryan Pait

Ryan Pait gets a different haircut every summer to keep the people of Chautauqua guessing. This is his fourth summer at The Chautauquan Daily, so if you’re tired of him, that’s OK. He recently graduated with his master’s degree in literature from Western Kentucky University. Don’t ask him about what he’s doing after this summer, but do ask him about the Nicole Kidman renaissance, the return of “Game of Thrones” and what he’s reading.