Love, hate or love-hate it, technology has assumed a new importance in our 2020 lives. Meetings via Zoom and Teams have enabled us to keep working from home during lockdown; Skype has allowed me – the anxious empty nest parent – to keep me in touch with my daughter, a university fresher who went down with (fortunately mild) Covid-19 almost before she had attended her first lecture. And in our decimated arts and culture sector; the ability to stage virtual events has provided a lifeline of sorts for so many arts institutions and festivals.

So it is with Stroud Book Festival (4-8 November), where the fifth birthday actual extravaganza we had planned to stage has necessarily morphed into an entirely virtual affair. But the good news is that thanks to our successful crowdfunding campaign, this year’s online Festival is both entirely free for everyone, and one which holds fast to its core principle of providing a modest fee for all the writers who participate in our events. In this incredibly challenging year for those who work in the creative industries, we felt it especially vital that we were able to pay all our contributors for their time and expertise.

So hurrah for our supporters and sponsors (and for supportive independent booksellers), and hurrah for the wonders of technology that will allow anyone, anywhere to join in our Stroud Book Festival events via the wonders of You Tube (and occasionally the wonders of Zoom too). Whether it’s one of our many live events, or one that our authors have specially and expertly pre-recorded for us, I’m still in a state of awe that all this is going to be (*offers up fervent prayer to the technology gods*) possible.

With the Festival almost upon us, it’s now your turn to use the wonders of technology to check out our online programme on our website: You’ll find a link to click under the blurb for each event which will take you to the right place on our YouTube channel, ready to watch it. You can even set reminders (we all need them) and more by subscribing to our You Tube channel in advance: And if you need an additional How To guide, you can watch this video which the Festival team recorded from our living rooms: And then go explore what we have in store for you.

We still wish we were able to invite you to physical in-person events in our wonderful venues in and around Stroud. But we hope that Stroud Book Festival 2020 will provide the next best thing: a virtual celebration of reading. As Sue Limb so rightly points out in her introduction to this year’s brochure, reading is itself a virtual event. And the book…well, ancient as it is, the book is quite possibly the most wondrous piece of technology ever invented.

Caroline Sanderson

Stroud Book Festival Programme Director

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