Bibliophiles and storytellers alike converged Saturday for the annual West Virginia Book Festival.
Featuring authors like James Patterson, Salina Yoon and Orson Scott Card, the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center hosted the annual celebration of all things literature.
Authors spoke, signed and sold their works, while hundreds roamed the behemoth used book sale where hardcover gems went for $2 (before sale pricing, which started at 3:30 p.m.).
Michelle McKinnie worked the booth for the McClain Printing Company, which published the infamously ironic history, “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide: The Sordid and Continuing History of Political Corruption in West Virginia,” whose author recently devolved from state Supreme Court justice to federal prisoner for misgivings of his own.
The Tucker County-based company, which started in 1958, sells a variety of works, including many on the history of West Virginia. McKinney said more than being a commercial endeavor, she likes going to the festival to cavort with fellow book lovers.
“I think the first year, we were not here, but since then we have been,” she said. “We always enjoy it. More than selling books, it’s more about getting to meet other publishers and authors and people who really, really love books.”
Just a few stalls over, Larry L. Rowe, an attorney and member of the House of Delegates, sold copies of his recently released “West Virginia Slavery and King Salt in Booker T. Washington’s Boyhood Home.”
The book took him 25 years to write, he said, and it’s the first of two in a series exploring Washington’s childhood in Malden, the Ruffner family, racial integration in the area and a subsequent racial riot on site.
“All of that was in Malden, and it’s not told, you can’t even find Malden in the West Virginia history texts, they’ll just say, ‘Oh, in Malden there’s a salt industry,’ ” he said.
In the days leading up to the event, Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin withdrew from moderating an interview with Patterson because of a separate event at the festival involving Card. She said she withdrew when the library declined to nix Card’s appearance, in light of his history of inflammatory, anti-LGTBQ statements.
As Card spoke Saturday morning, about 12 people protested his appearance outside.
In a statement, Card lamented that people would take 10- to 30-year-old comments out of context to draw inaccurate conclusions.
“The continued fighting over the moral high ground only divides us more when we need to be working to bring people from all walks of life together,” he said. “The thing I love most about America is our diversity of ethnicity and belief.”