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Bring your sunscreen: Planning for the Festival of Books

April 29, 2011 |  4:17 pm

With the L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC for the first time this year, even faithful attendees who've been to the festival before will have to come up with new plans and make new routines. That might mean driving and finding a new lot, or taking one of the public transportation options, including the special shuttles.

First: Bring your sunscreen. High temps could reach 80 degrees, with sun sun sun. Also, possibly, wind.

Getting there: Parking on campus is $10. Should spots fill up, the 35-cents DASH is running extra service for the book festival. And three special shuttles sponsored by Target -- called the bull's-eye buses, which I imagine is a hint of what they'll look like -- will be running for free between Union Station and USC with stops at the Convention Center starting at 9 a.m. More transportation details here.

Once on campus: USC alums who haven't been on campus in a while may be surprised to find gleaming new buildings where there once were skateboardable parking lots (it's true, this happened to me). Check the maps in last weekend's pullout section, or, my favorite, the iPhone app, for navigating USC's campus. 

Stages versus panels: The program schedule includes authors appearing on both panels and stages. What's the difference? Mostly this: Panels require a ticket, while stages don't.

Tickets: Have you got your tickets yet? About 60% of panels and readings still have tickets available -- yes, that means 40% have sold out. The events are free, but there is a ticket fee of $1 for each.

Standby: There will be standby lines for events that have sold out.

Signings: Almost all of the authors appearing at the festival will sign books after their speaking engagements at a designated signing area. Additionally, some bookstores with tents at the festival host their own signings -- check at those booths for schedules.

Books: You can buy an author's book at the signing area. Books from these authors and many others are also for sale at the bookstore and publisher tents on campus.

Tents: Bookstores, publishers, magazines and all sorts of other vendors have tents at the festival for browsing.

Food: USC has regular food vendors on campus, and there are additional food vendors as well.

Kids: Look for the Target stage for children's programming. Or just listen for the happily cheering kids.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: The Festival of Books iPhone app map of USC's campus.