Fest Facts Dates: November 13-14 Time: 10am-6pm, both days Location: No more walk-through refrigeration! This year promises to be bigger and more temperate, thanks to the procuring of the Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Eighth and Pike. Admission: As always, donations to support statewide literacy programs are welcome. $5 suggested per visitor. Parking: Aye, there's the rub. Area lots, garages, and the Convention Center parking lot are nearby, but the bus might be the safest bet. Nearby bus routes include 7, 10, 14, 43, and 11. Call Metro at 553-3000 or look them up on the Web (www.metrokc.com). Good luck! Food: This year's festival features two cafes (one on the fourth floor at the Exhibition Hall, the other on the sixth floor) and a food counter (in the Young Readers/Writers Area, offering such crowd-pleasers as pizza, burgers, salads, and sandwiches). Sorry, no booze this year. For more info: Contact the Bookfest through its hotline, 517-1474, or on the Web at www.nwbookfest.org The Northwest Bookfest is one of those formidable Seattle institutions that brings all kinds of people together under a single (albeit drafty in years past) roof. "All kinds," of course, actually means two distinct categories: Us and Them—Them being, naturally, those who get to wear the name tags, sashes, and halos of Authorhood. Their faces, screwed into intense, academic stares or frozen into quizzical half smiles, adorn glossy book jackets. Their entourages scurry to get them beer from the beer garden. They sit on stages and chuckle into microphones. They speak like they write, with precision and wit. They sign autographs. And Us? We show up, hope that we'll catch the eye of one of Them, perhaps be engaged in an intellectual conversation, and walk out at the end of the day with an agent—or, at the very least, get a signed book or two. As part of the Us category, I always seem to find myself at Bookfest swiveling my head every time one of Them enters my line of vision; Jon Krakauer under the beer-garden umbrella, Arthur Golden talking shop with Lisa Michaels, Sherman Alexie sitting next to a stack of his books at the autograph table. Last year I nearly took down Rick Steves as I was making my way from one booth to another. He didn't even notice; his companions whisked him away and I was left to watch his familiar, jaunty stride recede into the waiting throngs of the rest of Us. Though Bookfest does nothing intentionally to make me feel this way, I always roam the displays with an ever-accumulating, predictable Us-feeling of unworthiness. In a cavernous room filled with eager Us bibliophiles and the odor of freshly inked pages (at least that's what I imagine), I can't help but be overwhelmed by the amount of productivity that surrounds Us, engulfs Us. Finished books, signed contracts, agents, editors, readers all contribute to propelling a book off the shelves and onto nightstands everywhere. It's pretty amazing, come to think of it, that none of Us ever had the cajones to get ourselves into the stratum where all of Them sit, basking in their literary glory. Alas, most of Us are of a particularly fearful nature and would require lethal amounts of confidence to actually pull this off successfully. Maybe next year, an Us thinks to herself, I, too, will take to the stage and people will clap appreciatively. I supposed it's this jolt of inspiration that, in the end, keeps all of Us going—and returning to Bookfest. From its tentative state of infancy to that of a confident toddler, Northwest Bookfest turns five this year. As is appropriate, this fifth year brings another change to the ever-evolving festival. Gone are the days when it was necessary to wrap yourself in fleece from head to toe to keep from losing sensation in your extremities. Gone are the confines of Pier 48, the cement floors and the tarp flaps leading to the outside. With the site changed to the Convention Center, this Bookfest should be a doozy. You could say it's now reached the big time. Sure, it's gonna be great to roam the pristine interior and see even more readers and vendors, but what about Us? Them? Will they live up to our expectations, or, better still, will we ever live up to our own? From what has been told to Us, it's likely that the headliners, and the rest of Them, will number well into the 200s—enough so that we can happily mingle and maybe learn a thing or two. And, should any of Us get off our duffs and someday become one of Them, so much the better. Bookfest is going to be HUGE. Don't go it alone—check our listing of this year's offerings.