The AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the country and one of the five largest overall. Since its launch, more than 1,000 world-class authors and hundreds of thousands of festival-goers have crowded the historic downtown Decatur square to enjoy book signings, author readings, panel discussions, an interactive children's area, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops, and more.
The DBF is a community based non-profit that counts on your donations to operate each year. We are a 501(c)3 and your donation is tax deductible.
In February, 2005 Daren Wang hatched a hare-brained idea to establish a festival celebrating the spoken/written word. He enlisted other dreamers and doers who had hatched versions of the same idea including Tom Bell, Linda Harris, Richard Lenz, Alice Murray, Bill Starr and Judy Turner. Together, using a stone soup model, everyone brought what they had and the magic began brewing.
Wang said, “We ended up with a team that not only knew the book business, but also media and marketing, local businesses, and how to put together the nuts and bolts of a festival.”
It took 18 months of full-time volunteer work to bring together the inaugural festival, which drew over 100 authors and 50,000 people to downtown Decatur over Labor Day weekend, 2006.
The event got rave reviews, and festival visitors and authors fell in love with Decatur. The city’s appeal — a combination of supportive local businesses and restaurants, eager and able volunteers, and the ability to walk easily from venue to venue — contributed to the remarkable festival spirit.
Building on the success of the inaugural event, the 2007 festival involved twice as many authors and several new venues. The MARTA plaza became the crossroads for the festival and the 2007 event drew 60,000 people, sending the DBF well on its way to becoming a permanent fixture in Atlanta.
“We always knew Atlanta had a thriving writing and book community, but it needed a centerpiece to bring all the parts together,” said founding program director Tom Bell. “That’s what the festival does best.”
The festival continues to thrive and grow, building strategic partnerships, attracting high-profile authors, offering a variety of creative activities for adults and children, and adding components such as art|DBF with a variety of music, dance, theatre performances and visual art installations while at the same time focusing on its mission to encourage a love of reading and writing for people from all walks of life.
The DBF has officially come of age and is now a significant part of the nationwide landscape with a community that embraces it, authors who are eager to attend, and sponsors who stay committed to it. At the same time, the DBF maintains a spirit of fun and childlike wonder as it celebrates the written and spoken word.