Anybody who thinks books are dead wasn’t in Philadelphia this past weekend. I stood in line to hear David Sedaris do a reading and sign books. (His new book, When You are Engulfed in Flames, is out) It was about 95 degrees outside, and ungodly hot and humid. As I approached the fantastic Joseph Fox bookstore on Sansom Street, I saw a HUGE crowd of people and police barricades down the sidewalk. The line was one long city block long and growing.
Interestingly enough, the event spawned an interesting community between neighboring shops and among the people waiting in line. Neighboring shops began selling cold water to the hot and sweaty people lining both sides of Sansom Street, and someone was selling lemonade and collecting donations for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, the childhood cancer charity. It resembled a scene more like that outside of a sporting event with concessions than a book signing.
The line contained a surprising number of women, men- a cross section of the public radio, hip, intellectual crowd from all over Philadelphia and the suburbs, all coming together for an outdoor book reading on one of the hottest days of the year. Many people in line remarked that friends came with them, but the heat caused them to opt out of waiting. Others passed by this huge line, asking why people were in line, and looked honestly surprised that this kind of traffic would be generated by a book signing. Yet I think it speaks volumes not only about how popular David Sedaris is in Philly, but more importantly, the interplay between writing, books, radio and more have turned David from just another author into someone people feel they know and want to see when he is in town.
For all of those that might have missed david in Philly, he will be returning on October 14, 2008 at the Academy of Music- you can get tickets at http://www.kimmelcenter.org or call 215-893-1999
Oh, and it was totally worth standing in line to see David again in person- even though the sound on the busy street for the reading was kinda lousy.