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L.A. Times' Book Prizes and Festival of Books: Coming right up!

April 20, 2012 | 11:55 am


The 2012 Festival of Books is almost upon us: Panel sessions get started Saturday at 10 a.m. Before that happens, though, the Los Angeles Times' Book Prizes will be presented Friday night at USC's Bovard Auditorium. There are a number of ways to get prepared.

Want to attend the Book Prizes event? For the first time in a while, you can. Prizes will be awarded in 10 categories: biography, current interest, fiction, poetry, first fiction, graphic novel, science and technology, mystery/thriller, and young adult literature, with special awards being given to Rudulfo Anaya and the collaborative teen-writing project Figment. Tickets are $10 and available until 5 p.m. via Evenbrite; the Book Prize ceremony begins at 7:30 p.m.

Can't come? Follow the official @LATimesbooksTwitter feed for news of the award winners as they are announced. I'll be working the feed's levers, so keep an eye out for behind-the-scenes photos and whatever insights I might be able to share -- if, say, for example, I find an ice-cream truck -- throughout the entire festival. (For the occasional aside -- if, say, I eat too much ice cream -- you can follow me @paperhaus.)

Have you gotten panel tickets yet? The Festival of Books is presenting more than 100 panels and with more than 400 authors. Entry is free, but you can reserve tickets online with a $1 (each) processing fee in advance. Getting in line at the day of the festival usually works just fine, but some panels have already sold out.

Of course, there are lots of events that do not require tickets, including hundreds of booths with books,  book-related activities and organizations, poetry readings, a food court, and celebrities at the L.A. Times Stage. You might want to arrive early to get a front-row seat to see John Cusack talk about "The Raven," the upcoming movie in which he plays Edgar Allan Poe, Saturday at 2:30 p.m., or for Sunday at 1:20 p.m., when Betty White talks about being Betty White -- her book is "Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo."

Of course, the festival has its own Twitter feed, @latimesfob, which is staffed by the event organizers who are helpful and knowledgeable. Follow to learn about sold-out panels, scheduling changes or any other need-to-know tidbits.

Among the most common questions festival-goers have are, "Where is this panel I'm trying to find?" and "Where is the food court?" No need to ask if you're carrying a smartphone. For the second year in a row, the Festival of Books has a free app, for both iPhone and Android. If you downloaded last year's, it will just update. This year's app has even more features than last year's, including a social media tool to share your photos in a Facebook album and includes a super-handy scheduling tool.

If for some reason you can't make it to USC but want to keep up with the festival as it happens Saturday and Sunday, check in right here on Jacket Copy.


2011 Book Prize finalists announced

Pictures: 2011 festival's pre-opening

2011 Festival of Books panel coverage

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The 2011 Festival of Books. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times