IT IS an event that is loved by bookworms all across the county – and now the city council has agreed to make it bigger and better than ever.
The annual Portsmouth BookFest sees a bumper turnout for literary events across the city in October and last year it attracted a record number of 1,150 people.
Cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport at Portsmouth City Council, Councillor Lee Hunt, agreed to invest more time into the event at his decision meeting yesterday.
Cllr Hunt said: ‘The pleasure it brings to people and the more ways we can get it to people, the better.’
Clare Forsyth, service development manager at the council’s library service, spoke of the most popular events.
She said the big-name authors and the community events, such as last year’s Day of the Dead organised by the Portsmouth Writers’ Hub, had been the most popular.
Authors Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo and Andy McNab has pulled in the biggest crowds, with around 800 people visiting Jacqueline Wilson alone.
Cllr Hunt agreed to focus more effort into securing popular authors to make the event even more of a success.
Mrs Forsyth also said the council would be looking at selling tickets online and that they had trialled a number of operators, such as EventBrite. Last year, the council received a number of comments on Twitter from people frustrated at not being able to buy tickets online, with the only option being over the phone or in person during office hours on weekdays.
Labour group spokesman Councillor David Horne agreed that an online ticket option was a top priority to ensure this year’s success.
Cllr Hunt agreed and added: ‘This is a big plus for the city. We are in the home of great writing and it is important to make it a success.’
The event cost the council £7,000 to run last year and generated £6,200 income, leaving a shortfall of £800, which would not happen with increased ticket sales through online option, according to the council’s head of finance.