Book festival has a good first day

latfob-43011.jpgThe first day of the L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC on Saturday had nice weather, brisk book sales as far as I could tell, and a decent sized and mellow crowd. The new paperback edition of "Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles" looks good and I signed quite a few; I'll be back at the Angel City Press booth from noon to 2 p.m.on Sunday. People I talked to liked the more compressed layout of the booths and stages at USC, and the lack of stairs and hills compared to UCLA. They weren't so happy about the dearth of food and refreshments beyond the usual campus spots — some food trucks wouldn't have hurt — or the traffic and parking. First day jitters, perhaps, but if you're going Sunday and need to be there at a certain time, I'd allow plenty of leeway if you're driving. The 110 and 10 freeways were backed up, and the streets right around campus demanded patience. For a read on some of Saturday's panels, selected Times staffers and others blogged at Jacket Copy.

How many people?: No way to know. No tickets are collected, and apparently the campus didn't make an official estimate. Times Publisher Eddy Hartenstein put out the word at Friday's book prizes that 150,000 were somehow "expected," and that claim turned up unattributed and unsubstantiated in the Times' news story in Sunday's paper. Felt like less crowding in the main areas than at UCLA, but I didn't get around to the entire festival.

Photo: LA Observed

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