Another very busy and successful Word On The Street (WOTS) came and went in Toronto this past weekend on Sunday, September 26, 2010. The festival celebrating literacy and the written word is held yearly in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Toronto, Kitchener, and Halifax on the last Sunday in September. Toronto’s event included several stages and hundreds of vendors in the marketplace, and staff from TEC were there as well!
Beth worked as a volunteer for WOTS for the morning shift, setting up one of the information booths and pitching in where help was needed. TEC was also thrilled to sponsor two Canadian authors for readings: Richard B. Wright, who read from his latest work Mr. Shakespeare’s Bastard on the Scotiabank Bestsellers Stage, and Shelia Heti, who read from How Should A Person Be? at the Great Books Marquee. Shealah attended Heti’s reading, while Beth and Camille sat in on Wright’s reading. Both authors were gracious enough to sign copies of their new books!
There’s so much to see at WOTS, it’s sometimes hard not to be overwhelmed by the choices. Dozens of authors read from their latest works or attended panel discussions on topics ranging from journalism to writing cookbooks and to financial management advice. Hundreds of publishers, booksellers, magazines, author associations, and literacy groups had tents offering information and incredible deals. (I always make sure to renew my Toronto Life and Fashion magazine subscriptions here, and I picked up some Shameless back issues as well.) The only problem with the festival is that some vendors are so popular that you have to fight the crowds to get close enough to see their books! One of these is the Toronto Public Library, which sells books from its SciFi collection by the bag, including rare and out-of-print paperbacks.
A new venue this year was the Digital Drive tent, featuring a display of Sony e-Readers to play with, and a series of discussions covering topics new to the publishing world, such as “Blog to Book: New Literary Frontier” and “How to Use Social Media to Market Your Work.” WOTS is also a kid-friendly festival, with many children’s book publishers selling their wares along with three tents and a stage bursting with boisterous performances and songs celebrating literacy. This year, special guest Polkaroo made an appearance in honour of TVO’s 40th anniversary.
My advice for someone going to WOTS for the first time is to check out the website for events you don’t want to miss, and be sure to get a copy of the program as soon as you can (they are available before the festival, but I’ve never been fortunate enough to find one). It was a lovely day, and this great festival is one of the reasons why I love living in the city. I look forward to next year’s event!