The Columbia County Library is counting on a big turnout when the one of its most popular authors makes an appearance in October.
Library officials announced Friday that bestselling author Nicholas Sparks has agreed to speak at an event Oct. 26. The speech and book-signing are part of a tour promoting Sparks’ 18th novel, The Longest Ride, which is set to be released Sept. 24.
Regional Library Director Mary Lin Maner said the library had been working to bring Sparks to the Augusta area for about two years and she was thrilled when they finally got confirmation from the author’s publicist.
“He’s our No. 1 top circulating author, so we thought he would be a good choice,” Maner said.
Although the event is open to the public, library officials said tickets will be made available soon.
“Tickets are free,” said Maner. “We are giving them away just so we can have a head count.”
A head count could be very important because Maner expects a good turnout. Just how good, she said, will be hard to predict with an author with the widespread popularity of Sparks.
“We plan to have a couple of deputies for crowd control. If it gets to be a huge, massive number we may have to get some more,” she said. “I think we could have people start camping out that morning.”
David Hutchison, owner of The Book Tavern, will be there with copies of Sparks’ latest novel, and some of his other releases, to sell for a book signing by the author. Hutchison said he was trying to decide how many books to order in advance of the event, while already taking pre-orders from customers for the new Sparks novel at a discount.
“There are a lot of fans of Nicholas Sparks, so you don’t want to run out,” he said. “You can’t pick too many authors that are as popular as he is.”
Maner expects interest in the Sparks appearance to be at such a high level that the library has a month of events leading up to main event.
On four consecutive Tuesday nights, the library will screen movies that have been adapted from his novels. Each following Thursday night there will be a meeting to discuss the differences between each film and the novel from which it was derived.
At least eight of Sparks’ novels have been turned into films, including Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook and Dear John.
Maner expects the event to draw people from other states. According to the author’s website, the Columbia County appearance is the only one scheduled in the Southeast, thus far.
“It is amazing how people will travel to go see somebody that is their favorite author,” she said.