Must-See Merchants and Vendors

Despite its focus on all things literary, this weekend’s Festival of Books features unique programming beyond exploring writers’ panels and talks. The largest book festival in the country will also host a variety of innovative exhibitors seeking to share their crafts and inspire others. With the plethora of displays and booths around campus, one would be hard-pressed to try to visit them all. So, here are are a few notable vendors to look out for over the course of the weekend.

1. Vroman’s Bookstore

As Southern California’s oldest and largest independently owned bookstore, Vroman’s Bookstore has cemented itself in local history as a literary hallmark. Its extensive inventory and knowledgeable staff have helped the family-owned establishment thrive since 1894. Whether you’re looking for quirky, fun cards and gifts to give to your friends or bestselling novels to stock your shelf, make sure to check out one of Vroman’s two tables at the festival. Vroman’s main booth will hold signed copies and current best sellers, while its children’s booth will serve books for younger audiences.

2. Beauty Is by Kristy Eddy

In a media-saturated world, harmful beauty standards have a way of impacting even the youngest of children. Realizing this, former Mrs. California 2017 Kristy Eddy was outraged by the youth’s exposure to negative messages, so she decided to write her own children’s book focused on teaching young girls the powerful lesson that beauty is, in fact, undefined. “Beauty Is” is a creative vessel for teaching that everyone should explore, whether or not they have a young child in their family. The “Beauty Is” booth will sell its latest releases, including the inclusive coloring book “Color Me Beautiful” — all customers will receive signed copies of each book purchase.

3. Farm Fresh To You

If purchasing delicious fresh produce, supporting local businesses and learning about sustainable agriculture sound appealing to you, the Farm Fresh To You booth is a must-visit. Founded by Kathleen Barsotti and Martin Barnes in 1976, this local farm supplies the greater Los Angeles area with organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables through a convenient home delivery service. The Farm Fresh To You table will have all the resources you need to maintain a healthy, organic lifestyle. From answering food-related questions to helping patrons sign up for the service, the booth will allow students to learn about the importance of sustainable, organic eating.

4. It Gets Better Project

Uplifting and empowering the LGBTQ+ community since 2010, the It Gets Better Project began as an encouragement campaign on social media. However, it has evolved into a major multimedia nonprofit that has created a supportive network for the LGBTQ+ community around the world. At the Festival of Books, the organization will feature some of today’s top LGBTQ+ books, such as “It Gets Better,” “Boy Robot” and “What If It’s Us” for a small donation — all of which will go to support It Gets Better EDU, one of the group’s newest youth education programs. Maxwell Poth, the founder of LGBTQ+ nonprofit and storytelling venture “Project Contrast: Series 3,” will also be in at the beach.

5. The Far Sight

In recent years, the use of virtual and augmented reality softwares has been on the rise, and The Far Sight company has made the most of this tech explosion by combining traditional print books with cutting edge technology. With the The Far Sight app, readers can immerse themselves in “Tide Pools,” an augmented reality project that brings the pages of a book to life by turning still images into videos. The Far Sight booth will provide plenty of information on the AR software and possibly even feature some interactives for visitors to sample. Tech enthusiasts and book lovers alike should stop by this display to get a first look at what could be the future of storytelling.

6. Writer’s Blok

For the Festival of Books to take place, talented writers and authors must be heavily involved. Writer’s Blok is a community space dedicated to supporting and encouraging collaboration among writers. From breakout co-working sessions to helpful Q&A sessions, Writer’s Blok ensures its members are never alone throughout their writing processes. Whether you’re a seasoned author or just dying to pick up the pen, this booth is a great place to learn about the organization, and about how to cure writer’s block.