Last National Book Festival on the Mall?

September 20, 2013
Christopher Buckley at the Hay Adams Hotel on Sept. 20, 2013. (Ron Charles/WashingtonPost)
Christopher Buckley at the Hay Adams Hotel on Sept. 20, 2013. (Ron Charles/The WashingtonPost)

Before introducing satirist Christopher Buckley at the Hay-Adams Author luncheon Friday, the hotel’s general manager, Hans Bruland, announced that Saturday’s National Book Festival would be the last one held on the Mall. Without indicating how he knew this information, Bruland said the festival will be moved to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in 2014.

The book-loving crowd at the elegant Top of the Hay let out a quiet gasp.

But two hours later, a spokesman for the Library of Congress refused to confirm that any changes had been decided.

Jennifer Gavin, project manager of the Library of Congress National Book Festival, told me, “We have become aware that the Park Service has plans to make changes on the Mall. What they are proposing would probably change the festival as it is currently presented.”

Asked to confirm that the book festival would be moved to the convention center, Gavin would say only, “We are still exploring our options.”

The change — if there is one — apparently relates to the Mall’s new irrigation system, which could be damaged by the giant spikes used to hold up the tents during the book festival.

The Park Service could not be reached for comment.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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