Books Boosting Business

By: Philip Stewart
By: Philip Stewart

March 22, 2006

The 12 Annual Festival of the Book kicked off Wednesday and thousands of people are expected to attend. The festival has been mentioned in the Washington Post, and on television. It's expected to be a nice boost for the local economy.

Last year nearly 23,000 people attended the various events. It's a big increase from the 7,000 who attended when it began twelve years ago.

"Charlottesville is really having a tremendous impact. It's the little town that can, and we all know that about Charlottesville," said Timothy Hulbert, president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In this "can do" town, the festival can also bring money to the local economy. Based on last year's numbers, about two-thirds of the people bought at least one book. Don't forget to factor in the thousands of out-of-towners that spend money at local businesses and stay overnight.

"If you do a little bit of math on what the direct impact is, in terms of people staying here, staying in our hotels, it works out to about a $2 million direct economic impact," explained Hulbert.

Local businesses are happy to welcome the extra business.

"Obviously it's more money, and it's also a better chance to get more people to come in, and hopefully give us a chance to do a really good job," said Diana Bendixen, who works at Rapture on the downtown mall.

Anna Mauldin, the manager at Vavino, said "It's fantastic for us, especially as a new business--we opened last August. We love to welcome as many people as we can in here and especially to promote the (wine) industry."

But while the city and it's businesses certainly welcome the spending, for the book-lovers there may be something more special.

"The literary and cultural impact of having that many people, authors, in one community at one time is pretty powerful," said Hulbert.

About 7,000 people from out of town attended last years festival, and, according to the 2005 figures, some of them came from as far away as Asia and Europe, as well as nearly 30 other states.

For a complete listing of all the festival's events, you can visit the official website at: vabook.org


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