I was already planning a week long trip in SoCal and Michael kindly tipped me off to the festival so I made sure that was part of my week. My initial plan was to walk around soaking up all the book awesomeness and attend the Robert Crais panel. Things only got better when it turned out that another favorite of mine, Megan Whalen Turner, would also be a panelist that day. The festival really is like a complete overload of fantastic for book lovers.
Since this was my first time attending I can't speak to the difference between having it at UCLA and USC but I can attest to the fact that the layout was odd. It was almost like there were pods of activity/booths and you had to shift between them rather than just walking down one long line of booths or similar. For me, it made it hard to wander around and still feel like I saw everything. I spent a lot of time trying to find stuff rather than looking at stuff. Whether that was layout or just me, I don't know. However, I do know that I liked the panels much more than the wandering so if I make this an annual event (which I'm hoping to be able to do) I'm going to load up on panels and do less of the meandering.
So if you'd like to know how the panels went I'll direct you to the excellent summary of the Robert Crais panel done by Pop Culture Nerd here and another great summary here of the Young Adult: Worlds Beyond Imagination panel featuring Megan Whalen Turner (and this might even be a direct transcript).
As is probably obvious from the links I was able to meet up with other fans of my favorite authors and that was probably the most rewarding part of the event. An almost universal trait of book lovers is that we love to talk about the books we love and so meeting up with fellow fans is always a wonderful experience.
One final link before I sign off with a few photos. I went ahead and used the festival as a subject for my bookish travel column which can be found here.