So many books. So many authors to meet. So many presentations. The book festival calls for a strategy to maximize your experience.


The Tucson Festival of Books can be overwhelming.

Navigating 250 exhibitors, finding your favorite authors among 450 writers and selecting from 320 presentations takes strategy.

"The secret is to plan your day and get there early because you will be blown away," says Keith McLeod of Business Centre.

Planning is the primary tip offered by frequent festivalgoers, who suggested using the event schedules from the special section that was inserted in Sunday's Star and the website and mobile applications to review the subjects and authors, and pick the ones you'd like to attend.

Other tips include:

From Jennifer Bushroe:

• "I always color-code - with several highlighters - the pull-out map from the Sunday (newspaper) insert to match my intended schedule. That way, if I get booted from my first choice in a time slot because there are no remaining seats (the fire code can be a spoilsport sometimes), I can look at my map and see which of my backup choices is closest so that I can run to try and snag a seat! (And yes, I literally run.)"

From Julie Rustad, who will have the Julie Originals booth in the Children's area:

• Bring sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses. Many people come from other cities and states for this festival and might not be aware of the sun.

• Pack water. There will be vendors selling lemonade and other drinks, too.

• Bring snacks. "There will be lots of fantastic vendors there, but as a mom of a 2-year-old I advise you to have a granola bar and some crackers on hand. You wouldn't want to have to leave one of the fantastic children's performances in the middle because your child is hungry."

• Bring address labels. "Many of the booths have drawings for gift baskets -if you bring your address labels, you save time with probably only having to add an email address to the form."

• Conversate. "I know this isn't a word, but what I mean by this is that are so many insanely talented authors, artists, vendors and organizations in one place.

"There will be lots of free stuff, and although it will be tempting to just pick up goodies and move on to the next booth, you won't be really making the most of your time."

• Ask questions. "The volunteers working for the Tucson Festival of Books are very friendly and have maps and can direct you to where you need to go," Rustad adds.

From McLeod:

• Familiarize yourself with festival grounds and building.

• Allow rest breaks and for lunch.

• Bring cash or a credit card to purchase a book(s).

From Bill Viner, Pepper-Viner Homes and festival co-founder:

• Be adventurous. Go to at least one panel each day where you like the subject but know nothing about the authors.

• Mix and match subjects, genres, solo presentations, panels and workshops.

• See it all. Walk through all exhibitors, take in some entertainment, and, of course, visit the food court, the Culinary Stage and Science City.

• Plan to be here both days.

"Bring sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses. Many people come from other cities and states for this festival and might not be aware of the sun."