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As COVID causes authors to cancel live events, Wisconsin Book Festival adds web sessions
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As COVID causes authors to cancel live events, Wisconsin Book Festival adds web sessions

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After planning a return to largely in-person and indoor events, Wisconsin Book Festival coordinators are once again moving to more online events as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in Dane County and across the Midwest.

“At one point this year we had 47 authors confirmed for in-person events and now that number has gone to below 20,” said Conor Moran, director of the Wisconsin Book Festival.

“I’ve definitely seen authors who were interested and eager to come earlier in the summer who have rethought their travel … and what their (book) tour is going to look like,” Moran said.

As a result, many of those events are being moved to online appearances.

Minnesota author William Kent Krueger, who was planning an in-person event later this month to promote his new book “Lightning Strike,” not associated with the festival, decided last week to cancel his plans.

“This morning, as a result of the meteoric rise in COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths due to the Delta variant, I decided to cancel all my in-person events, which includes my appearance in Madison,” Krueger said in an email. “With this virus, things change with the speed of a lightning strike.”

This will be the 20th year for the Wisconsin Book Festival, held this year the weekend of Oct. 21-24. Thursday and Friday of the festival will offer online events, Moran said. Saturday, Oct. 23, is currently slated for a day of in-person events at Madison’s Central Library, which will follow city-imposed safety guidelines, he said. Sunday will be a joint event with the Wisconsin Science Festival featuring nonfiction writer Mary Roach, he said.

Moran said he hopes to have a complete schedule of author events by the first week of September.

“We are also making contingency plans … to showcase these authors if we do have to move ultimately to a completely virtual schedule,” Moran said.

“I won’t say for a minute that we’re not disappointed,” he said. “I feel very much that I want to do whatever is safest for everybody.” Regardless, “there will be book festival events, they will be great.”

In addition, the festival will continue to have stand-alone events as it does every year in September, October and November, Moran said.

“Our audience has been really great, and we saw 9,500 people come to 49 stand-alone events last year,” Moran said of the festival’s largely online event in 2020. In addition, 7,500 people participated in 30 events this spring, he said: “People have been showing up, and they’ve been buying books.”

Photos: Take a tour of Madison's Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries -- those charming boxes of free books with a ubiquitous presence in Madison -- launched here in 2010 and are now found in all 50 states and more than 85 countries. By one estimate, Madison has more than 400 of the modest neighborhood boxes. Here's a sampling, looking at various parts of the city. See if your neighborhood is represented.

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Little Free Libraries — those charming boxes of free books with a ubiquitous presence in Madison — launched here eight years ago and are now f…

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Little Free Libraries -- those charming boxes of free books with a ubiquitous presence in Madison -- launched here eight years ago and are now…

top story
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Little Free Libraries -- those charming boxes of free books with a ubiquitous presence in Madison -- launched here eight years ago and are now…

top story
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Little Free Libraries -- those charming boxes of free books with a ubiquitous presence in Madison -- launched here eight years ago and are now…

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Little Free Libraries -- those charming boxes of free books with a ubiquitous presence in Madison -- launched here eight years ago and are now…

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Little Free Libraries -- those charming boxes of free books with a ubiquitous presence in Madison -- launched here eight years ago and are now…

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