Edinburgh International Book Festival announces new hybrid format | Books

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At least half of the Edinburgh International Book Festival program will be streamed free online this summer, after the pandemic has “fundamentally transformed” what the event can offer.

Building on the hybrid format developed over the past two years, the EIBF will return to large-scale in-person events at theaters around Edinburgh College of Arts, but director Nick Barley says he aims to maintaining accessibility for those unable to attend in person, while retaining the “extraordinary international reach” achieved online last year, via streaming in the festival’s three largest halls.

“With the accessibility of the online offer, people suffering from chronic illnesses or anxieties, or long-term Covid have been in contact with me telling me that it was possible for them to attend the events of the festival even though they couldn’t come in person,” Barley explains. “The other aspect is the extraordinary international influence that we have achieved. Literary festivals are among the most local festivals, but we reached hundreds of thousands of viewers all over the world last year and we don’t want to lose that.

Additionally, all online events and a selection of in-person events will be ticketed.

“It’s part of our drive to try to encourage people again, who might still be hesitant to go out in the post-Covid environment,” says Barley. “We’ve chosen a series of events that we think are likely to appeal to people who might not have thought book festivals were for them.” These include interviews with writer and culinary activist Jack Monroe; with actor Kevin Bridges, whose first novel, The Black Dog, comes out in August; and American young adult author Jason Reynolds.

Other program highlights include musician PJ Harvey discussing her new narrative poem, Orlam; best-selling Ukrainian historian Serhii Plokhy discussing his country’s position at the crossroads of Europe and Russia; and singers Charlotte Church and Shirley Manson in conversation about the nature of grief.

Succession star Brian Cox will take a break from filming the upcoming series for an interview with Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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