Jay Platt

Anyone who knows anything about books and Ann Arbor knows about Jay Platt who for nearly 35 years has held court at Westside Books as the proprietor of one of Ann Arbor’s signature used book stores. Platt is being recognized this weekend by the Kerrytown BookFest with the Community Book Award for his contributions to the book community of Ann Arbor. Read more here.

Platt will also be the featured speaker at the Ann Arbor District Library 7 p.m., Friday September 6 as they open a new exhibit on the history of bookselling in Ann Arbor. Read more here and check out the exhibit details here.

Then following an award presentation at 11 a.m. on Sunday September 8 at the Farmers Market, Platt will join  a bookselling panel moderated by Jamie Agnew of Aunt Agatha’s Gene Alloway of Mottte and Baileys Books, Bill Cusumano from Nicola’s Books and the legendary Joe Gable of Borders Books fame to discuss the ever evolving book community of Ann Arbor. This is an amazing panel discussion that should not be missed.

10 Reasons to go to the   11th Annual Kerrytown BookFest

Sunday September 8 –Ann Arbor’s Farmers Market- 11a.m.-5 p.m.


1. Children’s authors & storytellers in the Story Book Corner.

2. Book making and drawing workshops for children and adults.

3. 100 book-related exhibitors.

4. Three author panels talking about Detroit music, the auto industry (with Bob Lutz) and Detroit’s rise and fall.

5. Learn how to preserve your family photos & movies.

6. Create a poetry book and print your own letterpress cover

7. Eight mystery writers explore the deadly art of mystery

8. Authors discussing writing from a women’s point of view

9. West coast author meets a Yooper author (Ben Percy and Matt Bell talk with U-M’s Jeremiah Chamberlin)

10. Free parking and free admission to the BookFest



The BookFest is sponsored by the Michigan Council on the Humanities, Zingerman’s, Michigan Radio, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom, WEMU, Ann Arbor Observer, Kerrytown Market and Shops, Sisters in Crime, the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan Theater, Nicola’s Books, Thompson-Shore and Aunt Agatha’s

Several Lansing-area writers will invade Ann Arbor Sunday as part of the annual 11th annual Kerrytown BookFest.

Authors and book artists with a Lansing connection who have been invited to this year’s festival are children’s authors Deborah Diesen and Ruth McNally Barshaw, rock ‘n roll writer Steve Miller, urban issues writer Edward McClelland and book artist Eric Alstrom.

In all, more than 50 authors and book artists are scheduled to attend this year. Robin Agnew, proprietor of Aunt Agatha’s mystery bookstore and president of the BookFest, said the festival is unique because it includes authors and illustrators on an equal footing.

Agnew tracks the literary talent in the capital region and makes a point of inviting several Lansing-area authors and artists each year. She can’t understand why Lansing and East Lansing don’t have a book festival of their own.

“The area has all the ingredients,” she said. “The university, writers, illustrators and bookstores. But it’s like lightning in a bottle to pull an event like this off.”

Agnew said the Kerrytown BookFest is all-volunteer driven, with no paid staff, so fundraising isn’t the only priority.

Children’s author Ruth McNally Bradshaw grew up in Detroit and lives in Lansing. She, too, would like to see a Kerrytown-style book festival here. “Lansing has a huge literary community,” she said. “There is room for this in Lansing.”

McNally Bradshaw’s newest book, “Ellie McDoodle: The Show Must Go On,” continues a successful series, now five books strong, about the trials and tribulations of a middle-school girl modeled after the author at age 10.

At Kerrytown, she will lead a panel discussion on how a children’s book is published and illustrated. Readers may be surprised, for example, to learn that the author and illustrator of a children’s book may have never met or even talked about the book they’ve created together. She will also conduct a how-to-draw session for young would-be writer/illustrators.

Lansing native Deborah Diesen, a New York Times best-selling author, will unveil her new book, “Picture Day Perfection,” about the dreaded day when school pictures are taken. She promises “an unexpected take on picture-day tales.”

Former Lansing resident Edward McClelland (aka Ted Kleine) will join another panel of authors to discuss Michigan’s vanishing cities. McClelland’s book, “Nothin’ But Blue Skies,” puts the national wave of urban decay into perspective, drawing on examples like Flint and Detroit. McClelland, who lives in Chicago, has deep Lansing roots. He graduated from Sexton High School, Lansing Community College and MSU.

Steve Miller, a Lansing-based historian of the multifarious music that has emanated from Detroit over the decades, will join a panel of music writers at Kerrytown. He’ll talk about the past 50 years of the Detroit music scene with two other writers who have written about Motown and Iggy Pop. Miller’s “Detroit Rock City” is a memoir of Detroit music told via firstperson interviews with some of the city’s music legends, including Alice Cooper and rock promoter Russ Gibbs.

Another Lansing-area book maven to appear at Kerrytown is Eric Alstrom, who will shine a light on the book arts collection at MSU Special Collections, where he is the chief of conservation and preservation.

Other highlights of this year’s Kerrytown BookFest include former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, author of “Car Guys & Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business”; paranormal and just-strangeauthors Ben Percy and Matt Bell; and mystery writers D.E. Johnson, Cara Black, Libby Fischer Hellmann and William Kent Krueger. More than 100 exhibitors will sell books and book-related art.

Among the exhibitors are Ray Walsh of Curious Book Store and The Archives Books in East Lansing. Walsh likes the BookFest but said finding a similar venue in the Lansing area would be difficult.

Diesen  too, wonders why there isn’t a similar event in the Lansing area. “The books are the stars,”she said. “It’s not just about well-known authors. Everyone’s on an equal footing.”

“It would be lovely to have a similar event in Lansing, but it would have to find its unique place,” she said. “It also has to be a grass-roots effort.”

The Kerrytown BookFest is at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. All venues are covered. Parking and admission is free. Word to the wise: Zingerman’s deli is one block away.

Detroit may be on the brink of bankruptcy, but the city is rich with authors writing new books about the city’s economy, the auto industry and its music.

The 11th Kerrytown BookFest will celebrate Detroit and its writers with three panel discussions featuring celebrated auto executive Bob Lutz (“Icons and Idiots”), rock ‘n’ roll writers Steve Miller (“Detroit Rock City”) and Peter Benjaminson (“Mary Wells”) and urban observers Edward McClelland (“Nothin’ But Blue Skies: The Heydey”), Gordon Young (“Teardown”), June Thomas (“Redevelopment and Race”) and John Gallagher (“Revolution Detroit”) of the Detroit Free Press. The BookFest is set for 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday September 8 at the Farmers Market in downtown Ann Arbor. The BookFest is free. Parking is free.

As always the Kerrytown BookFest will be an eclectic mix of authors, book artists, used book sellers and fun and crafts for children said Robin Agnew, president of the Kerrytown BookFest Board.

“Each year we ask ourselves how we are going to top the year before and each year we do,” she said.

Agnew said each of the authors featured at the BookFest have recently published books or have books which will be unveiled at the BookFest.

As an example, she pointed to the Automobiles and the Industry panel featuring Bob Lutz with his new book “Icons and Idiots”. He will be joined by Steve Lehto who has written a new book “The Great American Jet Pack” along with Bryce Hoffman who recently wrote one of the definitive books on the Ford Motor turn-around (“American Icon”) and Larry Webster of Road & Track Magazine.

Once again, the BookFest will feature several superior mystery writers including Julia Keller (“A Killing in the Hills”), William Kent Krueger (“Ordinary Grace”), Cara Black (“Murder Below Montparnasse”), Erin Hart (“The Book of Killowen”), Libby Fischer Hellman (“A Bitter Veil”) and Alyse Carlson (“The Begonia Bride”).

A special session will feature the quirky and hot authors Matt Bell (“In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods”) and Ben Percy (“Red Moon”) who will enter into a discussion with University of Michigan writing instructor Jeremiah Chamberlin.

There also will be numerous hands on activities for both adults and children where they can produce their own accordion, collectible poetry book and Meander books.

Agnew, co-owner of Aunt Agatha’s mystery bookshop in Kerrytown, said children and budding children’s book writers and illustrators will be enthralled and entertained by the lineup of authors at this year’s BookFest.

Children’s book authors Ruth McNally Barshaw (“Ellie McDoodle”), Nancy Shaw (“Elena’s Story”) and Shutta Crum (“Dozens of Cousins”)  will join with award-winning illustrator David Catrow (“Max Spaniel”, “Dozens of Cousins” and author or illustrator of 70 books) to discuss picture books from their inception to publication. In addition, Barshaw will conduct a drawing session for young illustrators and Deborah Diesen (“Pout Pout Fish”) will read from her books and conduct sing-a-longs.

Since one of the goals of the BookFest is to celebrate book arts, three panels will focus on Michigan book artists, experimental typography, the changing face of book content and the Detroit letterpress printing scene. The winners of the Sixth Annual Book Cover design contest also will be announced.

Agnew said by popular demand the panel “Cherchez la Femme” will feature writers Bonnie Jo Campbell, (“Once Upon a River”); Natalie Bakopoulos (“The Green Shore”); and poets Susan Ramsey (“A Mind Like This”) and Lolita Hernandez (“Quiet Battles”) discussing the women’s point of view in writing.

“Each year we mix new authors, veteran authors from a variety of genres along with notable experts in the printing arts to create the best small book festival in the country,” Agnew said.

“The BookFest is sponsored by many-many small donors along with the Michigan Humanities Council and is planned, organized and run by an all-volunteer Board,” Agnew said.

“It is something we are very proud of,” she said.

At the BookFest Jay Platt owner of Westside Books will be awarded the 2013 Kerrytown BookFest Community Book Award for his contributions to the literary life of Ann Arbor. In addition, Platt will join two other longtime Ann Arbor booksellers for a panel discussion on bookselling history in Ann Arbor.

For a complete schedule, a list of authors and presenters visit www.kerrytownbookfest.org

The Michigan Humanities Council is a major sponsor of the Kerrytown BookFest; other major sponsors are the Kerrytown Market and Shops, the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room, Thompson-Shore, Zingerman’s, Michigan Theatre, WEMU Radio, Sisters in Crime, Michigan Radio, Nicola’s, the city of Ann Arbor, Aunt Agatha’s and the Ann Arbor Observer.

For more information on the grants and supporting the Michigan Humanities Council visit www.michiganhumanities.org The Michigan Humanities Council is a private nonprofit organization which fosters a better understanding of our state and its people through local cultural, historical and literary experiences. The Council is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.