Yes, it’s true: This year, for the first time, the National Book Festival will be held indoors — in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Park Service decided that the festival, which last year drew more than 200,000 people, threatened the National Mall’s newly installed watering system. Festival organizers determined that the increased cost of staying on the Mall was prohibitive.
Since the news broke last summer, many of us have been working through the Five Stages of National Mall Withdrawal:
Denial — But the National Book Festival is synonymous with the National Mall!
Anger — Since when did the National Park Service become some old man yelling, “You readers, get off my lawn”?
Bargaining — Instead of sitting under big tents, everybody could wear umbrella hats and walk around on soft rubber stilts.
Acceptance — We’re book lovers — we can make this work.
To reach that final stage, let’s accentuate the positives of holding this year’s book festival on a single day — Aug. 30 — in the convention center. Read on and cheer up!
●Rather than stand in line for hours at one of the Mall’s 140 life-changing Porta-Potties, you can whisk through the convention center’s modern restrooms.
●NSA spy satellites can’t see which authors we’re interested in.
●Black bears recently spotted in Northwest D.C. can’t make it past convention center security.
●Easier to hail a cab for your trip home — with a bag full of signed books!
●In the new Culinary Arts Pavilion, cookbook and food writers will perform demonstrations of favorite recipes.
●Let it rain. We won’t even know.
●No sunburn — and no sunscreen required.
●Allergy relief. If our eyes are watering, those are tears of joy from meeting our favorite authors.
●Risk of death by meteor greatly reduced.
●A poetry slam, hosted by Beltway Grand Slam champion Elizabeth Acevedo.
●No dog poop. (Service animals, of course, are permitted in the convention center.)
●3,000 parking spaces nearby.
●No lawn sprinklers starting up accidentally.
●Just a short walk to great restaurants in Chinatown.
●Birds can’t swoop in and steal your lunch — or books.
●The new Graphic Novel Super Session hosted by Michael Cavna, author of The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs blog.
●Do your worst, August — we’ve got air conditioning.
●In previous years, we had to be off the Mall by sundown, but now we can party for 12 full hours (10 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
●The new Science Pavilion will feature writers who can explain the mysteries of the universe.
●Our nighttime hours allow for the new Great Books to Great Movies presentation hosted by Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday.
●Escalators and elevators. The convention center is fully ADA compliant.
●No bug spray needed.
●Easy access to Metro on the Red Line (Gallery Place-Chinatown) and the Green and Yellow lines (Mount Vernon Square Seventh Street-Convention Center).
●More chairs at each pavilion so more of us will be able to sit down.
●We’ll be close to downtown hotels, so invite your out-of-town friends and relatives.