• What is the Southwest Florida Reading Festival?

    The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is a fun, informative and entertaining one-day event that celebrates books and the written word. The Festival began in 1999 with the following goals:
    – Celebrate the importance of reading
    – Bring the finest literary talent to Southwest Florida
    The Festival has enjoyed great success and now attracts more than 20,000 book lovers each year.

  • When is the Festival?

    The Festival will occur Saturday, March 2, 2019.

  • Where is it?

    On the beautiful Fort Myers Regional Library Campus at 2450 First Street in Fort Myers Florida.

  • Who attends the Festival?

    People of all ages from across Southwest Florida and even other parts of the country attend the Festival. The Festival is a free, public event and includes exciting author events, author signings, storytelling and demonstrations.

  • Is the Festival outside?

    The festival will be held outside on the beautiful Fort Myers Regional Library Campus at 2450 First Street in Fort Myers Florida.

  • Is the Southwest Florida Reading Festival really FREE?

    Yes! Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors all the events at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival are free.

  • How is the Festival funded?

    Festival costs are supported primarily by the generous donations of individuals, corporations and the arts and literary funds in our community. Additionally, there is an annual fundraiser, Read Between the Wines. For more information go to our fundraising events page or contact the Festival Coordinator at 239-533-4832.

  • Is the Festival an all-ages event? Is it kid-friendly?

    Yes. We have programs and activites geared to children, teens and adults.

  • Where do I park and do I have to pay to park downtown?

    You can park along downtown streets for free on the weekends. The City of Fort Myers downtown parking garages will have a flat rate fee of of $5 that you pay on entry into the garage. They will accept cash or credit cards. The Main Street Garage is located at 2286 Main Street.

    Attendees with a handicap placard may parking in the CenturyLink parking lot located on Lee Street, directly across from the library.


  • What should I wear or bring?

    Most activities take place outdoors so dress accordingly, wear comfortable shoes and bring a hat or visor, sunscreen, an umbrella, a camera, and a tote bag for books, t-shirts and other Festival goodies.

  • Is the Festival A.D.A. compliant?


  • What happens if it rains?

    The Festival goes on rain or shine. We have a great time! The activities and presentation are under tents. An umbrella is recommend to move from activity to activity.

  • Will books be sold at the Festival?

    Yes. Books-A-Million, the official bookseller will be selling books for all of the featured authors at the Festival. They donate 20% of sales to the Reading Festival.

  • Do the authors sit on panels or give seminars?

    Generally we have few panels or seminars. Both our author presenters and our Festival attendees love the fact that each program is devoted to one author and his or her work. Each author is free to communicate directly and intimately with the audience. The upshot: award-winning writers regaling their audiences with stories of their lives in letters.

  • Do the authors sign books?

    A book signing is generally scheduled for the authors at the end of their program. The book signings occur near the Books-A-Million store. It is setup so that you may purchase your books, and then walk over to the author’s table to have them signed. You may have up to three books signed at once. Check the schedule for signing times.

  • I heard there are free books for children and teens; how does that work?

    Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors we provide one free book for every child and teen that attends the Festival. There are thousands of age appropriate books from which to choose. We cannot give out books for children and teens who are not at the Festival.

  • Will food and drinks be available?

    Yes, we have tasty lunch options, including vegetarian choices. Jason’s Deli will be on site with their popular box lunches and a variety of food trucks will be located on First Street.

  • What is the Evening with the Authors and who is invited?

    The Evening with the Authors is our way of thanking the many writers, panelists and sponsors who contribute their talents and resources to make the Festival possible. They’ve all been invited as our honored guests and we invite you to join them. The evening affair includes a cocktails, recognition of the Southwest Florida Reading Festival’s Distinguished Author Recipient and, most importantly, great company! Tickets are available beginning in January and ending in late February. Not all authors may be available due to unavoidable travel delays

  • Is there an ATM?

    Yes, one is located at Sanibel Captiva Community Bank in the Edison Theater building at  located at 1533 Hendry St #100, Fort Myers, FL 33901.

  • Are pets allowed?

    No, pets are not allowed unless they are assistance dogs.

  • Where do I find a program schedule?

    A program schedule will be available in early February on  the ATTEND page.  It will contain a full schedule of programming.  It will also be available at the information booths at the Festival.

  • How long does each author program last?

    Most of our adult programs are 60 minutes including time for Questions and Answers. The children and teen programs are scheduled in 45 minute time periods. Book signings, are generally scheduled at the end of their program near the Books–A-Million books sales area unless otherwise indicated.

  • How are the Featured Authors selected?

    There is an Author Committee who works year round to recruit nationally acclaimed authors to attend the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. The Festival does not pay an honorarium, however it may pay for their airfare, hotel and ground transportation to and from the Festival. The authors that usually choose to participate at the Festival are those who have recently released a new title and the date fits with their book tour schedule. The benefit of the weather in southwest Florida in March is a bonus. The committee contacts over 100 authors each year being careful to invite authors representing all genres, age ranges and ethnicities.

  • How can I support the Festival?

    You can support the Festival in two important ways: By volunteering or by donating.

  • Donations

    The Festival welcomes and appreciates your donations, which help ensure that everything at the event remains free and open to the public. If you would like to support the event, please click here. Please share your enthusiasm for the Festival with your friends.

  • Volunteer

    The success of the Festival is largely due to the contributions of its volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering for the Festival, please call 239-533-4815 or email Catherine Vaughn at cvaughn@leegov.com and leave your name and address, or apply online at the Volunteer page. If you have volunteered in the past, please note your prior assignment and indicate if you would like to work in that area again.

  • What is involved in putting on the Festival?

    It takes nearly 200 Lee County Library System staff and community members to put on the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. There are people devoted to the following areas: Adult and children’s Author Recruitment, Festival Books Sales, Event Evaluation (surveys), Volunteer Coordinator, Festival Volunteer Hospitality, Festival Store, Fundraising, Author Hospitality, Evening with the Authors, VIP Terrace, Information Booths, Operations, Publicity, Book Signing, e-Library, Aspiring Authors Writing Contest, Storytelling Stage, A Book for Every Child and Kids Activities and Crafts.

  • What is different from last year besides the authors?

    We make adjustments to the event every year in order to ensure attendee, sponsor and author experiences are continuously improved.

  • Who exhbits in the Marketplace?

    There will not be a marketplace in 2019.

  • How do local or regional authors participate?

    The Festival Author Committee invites select nationally recognized authors to participate in presentations and panel discussions.

I would return in a heartbeat! What a wonderful event!!!

Tedd Arnold, 2013

Have Fun At The Reading Festival!

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