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Edinburgh Book Festival publishes its plans
Published on Monday, 21 June 2010

Edinburgh International Book Festival, 14 - 30 August

The second major Festival to launch its programme in June, the Edinburgh International Book Festival has swung into action with a mammoth schedule of talks and seminars.  Coinciding with the second part of the Fringe, and running from 14th to 30th August this year, there's a lot to recommend the Book Festival; it's gentle, manageable, and the sheer variety of its programme means you're sure to find something which interests you there.

Parent and child reading
Courtesy Edinburgh International Book Festival
Measured simply on number of events, the Book Festival comes second only to the Fringe - with this year's programme running to 800 talks and seminars, over a generous 17 days.  Unlike the Fringe, though, the Book Festival benefits from a single, compact site, at the pleasant Charlotte Square Gardens in central Edinburgh.

What's on this year

The programme's index of authors makes a serviceable Who's Who of the current literary scene.  Events range from the high-brow to the unashamedly popular; simply glancing over the list turns up names as varied as Carol Ann Duffy, Will Self, Ian Rankin and the ever-present Alexander McCall Smith.  Non-fiction is also well represented, with a fascinating programme of talks on subjects as diverse as history, travel and science; and there's a welcome programme of family-friendly events for the younger readers, too.

As usual, there's a good smattering of figures in the public eye who have books out this year.  Among other A-listers, Simon Callow talks about his unusual memoir, Douglas Hurd discusses foreign policy and the lessons of history, and Brian Keenan describes his life Before We Were Kidnapped.

The worlds of journalism and the media are also represented, with such well-known figures as Polly Toynbee and Fergal Keane appearing this year.  And under a new director, Nick Barley, there are some new departures too: there'll be a free nightly event where authors "try something new", and a specially-commissioned series of short stories on the subject of Elsewhere.

Browsing and booking

If you're familiar with arrangements from previous years, note that the box office opens on Saturday this year.  See below for details.

Ironically, perhaps, for this Festival of the printed word, the easiest way to browse the programme is online.  You can download the whole thing as a PDF file from the Book Festival's web site; if you're daunted by its size, just flip to the index of authors right at the back.  Or, if you know more or less what you're looking for, you could try out their online search engine.

You can also pick up the programme from many bookshops and libraries within Scotland.  Here in Edinburgh, The Hub - on the Royal Mile near the castle - is also sure to have copies, alongside other Festival brochures.

Either way, you have a little under a week to make your picks if you want to be sure of your seats.  Popular tickets for the Book Festival go very quickly, and it's not unusual for a well-known author to sell out on the day the box office opens.

Booking starts at 8:30am on Saturday 26 June, when you should be able to get your tickets through the Book Festival's website.  It usually struggles to cope with opening-day demand, so register in advance and be prepared to have to keep trying.

Phone lines open at the same time - call 0845 373 5888.  They'll also be very busy for the first few days.

If you prefer to go in person, you'll need to note some complex arrangements.  On Saturday 26 June only, the Book Festival box office will be temporarily housed at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, who have the facilities to cope with the expected crowds; it's open from 8:30am to 6:30pm.  After that, it moves to the International Festival's Hub booing office near the Castle, open from 10am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday.  Finally, it's all change again on 14th August - when the operation decamps to the festival proper at Charlotte Square.

Remember - this is one Festival where it really does pay to book early.  We can remind you when tickets are about to go on sale.  Sign up to get Ticket Alerts in your Inbox.

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