The Edinburgh International Book Festival began in 1983 and is now a key event in the August Festival season, celebrated annually in Scotland’s capital city. Biennial at first, the Book Festival became a yearly celebration in 1997.
Throughout its history, the Book Festival has grown rapidly in size and scope to become the largest and most dynamic festival of its kind in the world. In its first year the Book Festival played host to just 30 ‘Meet the Author’ events. Today, the Festival programmes over 800 events, which are enjoyed by people of all ages.
An important feature of the Book Festival’s programme is a high profile debates and discussions series. Each year writers from all over the world gather to become part of this unique forum in which audience and author meet to exchange thoughts and opinions on some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Running alongside the general programme is the highly regarded Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme, which has grown to become a leading showcase for children’s writers and illustrators. Incorporating workshops, storytelling, panel discussions, author events and book signings, the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme now ranks as the world’s premier books and reading event for young people.
Since its inception, the Book Festival’s home has been the beautiful and historic Charlotte Square Gardens, centrally located in Edinburgh’s world heritage listed Georgian New Town. Each year the gardens are transformed into a magical tented village, which welcome around 220,000 visitors. In 2017, the Book Festival Village also expanded onto the west end of George Street.
The Book Festival is proud to run its own independent bookselling operation. All proceeds from the sale of books are invested back into the running of the Book Festival, a not-for-profit charity organisation which annually raises in excess of 80% of its own funds.
Together with its counterparts, the International Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Fringe, the Art Festival, the Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival forms what is now widely regarded as the biggest and best arts festival in the world.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival’s current director is Nick Barley, who was appointed in October 2009.