The Library's sixth annual National Book Festival garnered a record number of stories in both the print and broadcast media. More than 70 media outlets preregistered for the festival through the Library's online pressroom—a new Web feature—resulting in 95 print articles and more than 159 radio and television broadcasts. The Library, in cooperation with the public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard, implemented a range of activities to build awareness of the festival and generate excitement among various target audiences prior to and on the day of the event.
The Washington Post, a charter sponsor of the National Book Festival, reprised its series of online chats with authors in the weeks leading up to the festival.
Book TV on C-SPAN2 once again broadcast live from the festival throughout the day. C-SPAN's coverage focused on author presentations in the History and Biography pavilion. XM Radio and Washington Post Radio interviewed participating authors and Library officials in a special studio area designated for their use. In addition, interviews and live segments were broadcast on CNBC, CNN and affiliates for NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox in Washington, D.C., and throughout the country.
Selected author presentations were broadcast on the Library's Web site the day of the event. For the first time, interviews with key authors were recorded as podcasts that the public could download for free to portable devices from the National Book Festival Web site. They offered a preview of the festival, which created excitement and helped drive attendance to a record level.
This strategic approach to media outreach resulted in coverage by the Associated Press (AP), USA Today, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, Newsweek, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal, Orlando Sentinel, the Birmingham News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Charlotte Observer and Voice of America.
Pre-festival stories promised that the festival "will have something for everyone who loves to read" and enticed readers with the "chance to meet favorite authors, hear them speak about their works and the writing process, and get a book signed." Washington Times reporter Kelly Jane Torrance made the case that Washington "isn't such a cultural wasteland after all. Tomorrow, the Mall will be filled with people looking, not for a glimpse of Dorothy's ruby-red slippers or a peek at the Magna Carta, but for a literary conversation." The Kids Post section of the Washington Post promoted the festival and challenged children to "check out fun facts about the Library of Congress." Weekly Reader similarly promoted the event by conveying the message of festival promoters: "Open a good book and be captured by its spell."
Day-of-event coverage captured the mood and spirit of the festival. Arrive Magazine noted, "From the looks of it, reading just might be the national pastime. At least that's the way it feels amid the crowds at the National Book Festival." Voice of America reported that "the festival is designed to inspire a passion for reading and learning literature, especially among young people, like the five teenagers who followed each other to the same stage and microphones shared by celebrated poets Donald Hall and Yevtushenko."
At the close of the festival, the Library issued a press release including festival facts, highlights of the day's events and comments from the Librarian of Congress. This resulted in several post-event stories in the press. In the Oct. 9 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, author John Grogan ("Marly & Me: My Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog") reported on his participation in the 2006 National Book Festival. He wrote, "If you fear the written word is on the verge of extinction, and that electronic gadgetry has eclipsed old-fashioned words on paper, the scene on the National Mall would brighten your outlook."