If the number of people who turned out for the eighth annual Authors Night was any indication, Saturday was a very successful day for book lovers.
Aside from the 130 authors who came to Gardiner Farm to sell their donated books to benefit the East Hampton Library and the record number of attendees who showed up and made purchases by the bagful, the commitment of longtime library supporter Alec Baldwin was felt even before he entered the tents.
According to East Hampton Library Director Dennis Fabiszak, Mr. Baldwin, who is one of the library’s biggest donors, was involved every step of the way with this year’s event—from the author selection to the tent design.
And the star’s commitment paid off, according to Tom Twomey, the chairman of the library’s Board of Managers.
“This is by far the biggest, most successful Authors Night so far,” he said. “It’s become the literary event of the East End and for that I’m very gratified.”
Close to the end of the event, bibliophiles were in a frenzy, snatching up books and chatting up some of their favorite writers. But a few hundred yards behind the white tents on Saturday night, Mr. Baldwin sat down, away from the throngs, to talk quietly about the importance of reading.
The avid reader reported that his love of the written word has been a part of his life since he was a young boy growing up in Massapequa.
“I read a lot,” he said. “When I was a kid, a woman friend of my mom’s would drop off a box of magazines on our doorstep every month and that was one of the things that got me started.”
The woman was Lynn Black, he said, adding that she was a “big PR executive.” Ms. Black and her husband, Charlie, were better off than the Baldwins so they would share their magazine collection with their friends.
“My dad was an avid reader,” Mr. Baldwin continued. “And even when I was a kid I read a lot—things like “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo and things like that.”
The lifelong reader—he’s currently reading “Arthur Miller: A Life” by Martin Gottfried and getting ready to start “Eisenhower in War and Peace” by Jean Edward Smith, which was given to him by a friend—said that sharing the gift of reading is something that everyone can do.
“When someone has an extra $50 or $100, they could donate it,” he said. If 1,000 people donated $50, that would be $50,000—you can do the math.” He continued, “No contribution is too small.”
Giving away books or bequeathing them is another way to help the cause of reading, Mr. Baldwin said.
“Donate your used books. I used to pack up and give my used books to the
Goddard Riverside Center; until they told me to stop bringing them,” he laughed. “And also, very valuable books are a great gift to the library. And it’s a deduction.”
His plans for Authors Night included “watching some of the most important writers of our time out there eating oysters in the field,” Mr. Baldwin said with a smile, and spending some of his money on books, while meeting a few of his favorite authors before they packed up and left for the night.
“I can’t wait to see Bob Caro, probably one of he most important historical writers of our time. And Dick Cavett, and John de Cuevas, and Ken Auletta,” he said. “This community is all about writers and I am glad to support that.”
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