The Austin Chronicle

Texas Book Festival Goes Hybrid in 2021

By Robert Faires, May 17, 2021, 1:50pm, All Over Creation

The Texas Book Festival survived the pandemic in 2020 with a completely virtual version that was spread across three weeks. In 2021, the festival will be back online, but only in part. Live events will make their return during a week-long celebration scheduled for Oct. 25-31.

That's the big news just announced by the literary jamboree that's been an autumn staple since 1996. Starting Monday, Oct. 25, tune up your computer for four days of sessions with some of the most fascinating authors, journalists, poets, illustrators, and artists in the book world. But on Friday, Oct. 29, the annual First Edition Literary Gala will launch the return of in-person events for the traditional festival weekend. The gala, which raises funds for the fest's literary and literacy programs (and which succeeded in raising more $600,000 even with a virtual version last fall), will offer indoor and outdoor seating options for this evening with literary luminaries.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, it's back to the grounds of the Texas State Capitol and Congress Avenue where book lovers can roam the big tents for sessions with their favorite writers and scour the exhibitor marketplace for books from the largest publishing houses to the smallest indie presses, including those from universities and self-publishing authors. TBF is also promising the return of such festival staples as author panel discussions, the Texas Teen Book Festival, the Saturday night Lit Crawl, food trucks, and more, so festival fans have all that to look forward to. And since the 2020 virtual festival featured more than 175 guests, one can only imagine the 2021 hybrid will include an even larger contingent of book scene stars.

In the press release announcing the hybrid event, TBF Literary Director Matthew Patin acknowledges the anticipation of all parties – festival-goers, festival staff, and people in the book biz – to get back to a live and in-person event. And TBF felt the moment was right, being "encouraged by growing vaccination numbers and many conversations with authors, publishers, attendees, partners, other event organizations, and the City of Austin." Patin adds, "We’ll never abandon what we learned about virtual — readers told us they enjoyed that, too. Stepping into the hybrid space provides everyone the opportunity to participate in a big, vibrant, diverse festival program, virtually or in-person.”

The 2021 Texas Book Festival will take place Oct. 25-31. For more information, visit

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