Book Festival Box Office Strains To Meet Demand On First Day
The Edinburgh International Book Festival is reporting an unprecedented demand for tickets with over 300,000 hits on the on-line booking system and 25,000 telephone calls to the Box Office within the first hour of opening – twice as many as in 2010. 230 people were queuing outside the specially created Box Office at the EICC this morning when the doors opened, the first of whom arrived at 3.00am.
EIBF customers were experiencing a long wait on all booking channels - with some exasperated and angry customers having to persevere for hours on the book festival site.
"Well, what should have been one of happiest days of year, has turned into one of worst. After 5+ hrs I'm officially giving up," tweeted Robert Burdock.
Another user called BookRambler tweeted, "why won't the system let me add things to basket and then pay later? Seems daft to get in and then not buy."
Both Book Festival fans tweeted that they eventually managed to buy tickets.
In a statement, the book festival said this afternoon: "Problems experienced on the website in the early stages of booking were being resolved."
Meanwhile, back on the ground, David Bird of Pathhead was first in the queue at the EICC and successfully booked tickets for 18 events, including Bettany Hughes, A C Grayling and Ian Rankin.
The first event in the Adult Programme to sell out was the Debate: The End of the Union and was quickly followed by Charlie & Lola, Martin Sixsmith, Caitlin Moran, Sarah Brown, Simon Callow, Tam Dalyell with James Naughtie and several of the free Bookbugs events for young children.
Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said:
“It is enormously gratifying that literary stars and unknown authors from Scotland and further afield are able to attract such extraordinary interest. Having invested a significant amount of time, staff and financial resource to develop a system to handle the demand we were disappointed that some customers had a frustrating experience on the website at the start of the day. We worked hard to resolve these issues, and did see high volumes of sales across the programme – online, on the phone and at the EICC. We are now looking forward to another vibrant Festival in Charlotte Square Gardens in August.”
Organisers pointed out that with over 750 events and 800 authors appearing at the Festival, there were still plenty of tickets available to a wide range of high-quality events.