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15 years of Book TV at National Book Festival

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The following post is a Q&A with Peter Slen, Senior Executive Producer, Book TV.

How many author interviews does Book TV air on average each year?

Book TV is a 48-hour block of nonfiction book programming every weekend on C-SPAN2 that brings you a rich variety of nonfiction topics: history, biography, politics, current events, the media and more. With our coverage of author talks, interviews and book festivals from around the country, we feature 800-1,000 unique nonfiction books and authors each year.

Since most people don’t get the opportunity to talk with their favorite author in person, what informs the questions you ask?

Curiosity. We want to ask the questions that the viewers have both about the book and the author. Part of our signature programming is our call-in programs which give our viewers the opportunity to talk to the authors directly and ask questions.

Would you say there are any particular qualities that most authors have in common?


Book TV Coverage of the National Book Festival
Book TV Coverage of the National Book Festival
C-SPAN has been involved with the National Book Festival for 15 years. What do you like best about having attended and covered the festival over the past 15 years?

This is the 15th year for the festival and Book TV’s 15th year covering it. We have enjoyed coming back each year to see that the original mission that former first lady Laura Bush and the Library of Congress set out — that there should be dozens of varied authors discussing books and ideas — hasn’t changed! The move to the convention center has been flawless; the crowds are growing and the festival hasn’t skipped a beat.

What is your favorite National Book Festival memory?

Being on the National Mall with authors Laura Bush, Ken Burns, David McCullough, David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, Isabel Wilkerson, etc., and having the crowds of book lovers mingle and listen to their favorite authors.

Book TV has helped make the book festival truly “national” with its amazing coverage of the History and Biography authors. What can book fans around the country expect to see this year on Book TV?

Book fans across the country can expect full-day, comprehensive LIVE coverage from the History Pavilion, as well as several call-in programs from our set located in the Grand Lobby at the Mount Vernon Place entrance to the convention center.

Our programming this year includes viewer call-in segments featuring:
12:35pm – David McCullough, The Wright Brothers
1:20pm – Tom Brokaw, A Lucky Life Interrupted
2:05 pm – Evan Thomas, Being Nixon
3:55pm – Buzz Aldrin, Welcome to Mars

Event coverage from the History Pavilion features:
10am – Cokie Roberts, Capital Dames
10:55am – Joseph Ellis, The Quartet
6:15pm – Jay Winik, 1944: FDR and the Year that Changed History; and Danielle Allen, Our Declaration

What other presence do you have on the grounds of the festival?

This year we will have space on the expo floor in Hall B where visitors will be able to learn more about Book TV, sign up for our email list and pick up one of the ever-popular festival bags – this year in blue. Additionally, one of our Local Content Vehicles will be on display for people to learn more about C-SPAN’s Cities Tour. Our producing team travels to two cities each month, visiting various literary and historic sites to interview local historians, authors and civic leaders. On the first and third weekend of each month, we feature the literary life of those cities on Book TV.

This year’s theme is “I Cannot Live Without Books,” so we are asking everyone we talk with to share with us a book you can’t live without.

A dictionary!


  1. David McCollough’s new book, The Pioneers

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