Letter to Mayor Reed on Proposal for “The Atlanta Book Festival” in 2014

In Open Letter on May 25, 2014 at 11:06 PM

May 25, 2014

Mayor Kasim Reed
City of Atlanta
Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500
Atlanta, GA 30303

Dear Mayor Reed:

A great city, one could argue, deserves a great book festival; therefore, I am writing you today in order to recommend just that, that is, a proposal for the overdue creation of “The Atlanta Book Festival” for Atlanta to begin this year. If Americans from Benjamin Franklin to William Du Bois figured the library to be a good thing before us, then why not run with that idea and promote it on a larger scale in Atlanta. After all, the living legacy of a successful Atlanta native like Martin King, Jr. is inseparable from his having learned from reading.

If you perform a brief search on-line, then you will notice that Philadelphia, in fact, has a city book festival sponsored by The Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company. No similar Coke sponsorship is present in Atlanta, unfortunately. The Free Library of Philadelphia also has a well-established author speaker series that could better be mirrored here across public library branches. While that city is in its 8th annual rendition, having just finished up in April, many other examples are easily found on-line, including closer to home, The Decatur Book Festival and the Savannah Book Festival – bother representing good resources for reference.

Anti-discussion, which large cities known for being stuck in traffic over prolonged periods are especially susceptible to, could more than easily be tempered and avoided by investing in such an orderly and simple book festival. In order to foster individual creativity and collaborative skills, the proposal would be beneficial in expected and unexpected ways, like Atlanta inventions The Atlanta Beltline, The Atlanta Jazz Festival and The New American Shakespeare Tavern.

Developing a dedicated market for the event could be a refreshing route here. First, I’d propose razing the downtown Underground Atlanta site, which, as I understand it, is currently going up for sale, and then turning it into a mixed-use, open-air marketplace developed primarily for Atlanta merchandise vendors and, secondarily, for annual festivals and periodic play performances. Business startup competitions and entrepreneurial education efforts, to be arranged and/or sponsored by area universities, patrons and government agencies, could be helpful to spotlight periodically here as well. One idea for venue usage would be to organize public lectures on “timely topics” in order to better educate the public on arcane yet relevant issues. Beyond Underground, the recently purchased old State Farmers Market in south Atlanta offers another worthwhile setting for such a festival, as would an a festival surrounding the state capitol.

During The Atlanta Book Festival later this year, Atlanta-centered branch libraries and university auditoriums alike could be brought in to collaborate as part of the festival by featuring author lectures, lunch-and-learns, student essay competitions and other events focused on the festival.

I look forward to your response.


James Breedlove


President Beverly Tatum
Spelman College
Office of the President
350 Spelman Ln.
Atlanta, GA 30314

President Carlton Brown
Clark Atlanta University
Office of the President
223 James P. Brawley Dr., SW
Atlanta, GA 30314

President Mark Becker
Georgia State University
Office of the President
P.O. Box 3999
Atlanta, GA 30302

President “Bud” Peterson
Georgia Institute of Technology
Office of the President
North Avenue, NW
Atlanta, GA 30332

President Jim Wagner
Emory University
Office of the President
408 Administration Building
201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322

President John Wilson, Jr.
Morehouse College
President’s Office
830 Westview Drive, SW
Atlanta, GA 30314


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