Edinburgh Book Festival: Just Like Rock Concerts


By Carmen Comment

If you tried to get tickets to the Edinburgh Book Festival, you might have had a bit of trouble. That’s because the Scotsman reports that demand surged far beyond what was expected on the first day of bookings for the August event, with internet sales up an extraordinary 900 per cent. And it might have increased even more had there not been a series of computer failures in a new booking system, which saw the festival’s website grind to a halt at 1:30pm yesterday, and remain out of commission for several hours. Staff said it would be online again this morning.

Things didn’t fare much better for those who went to get tickets in person. The ticket queue outside the Waterstone’s bookshop on George Street saw punters arriving as early as 6:15am, but then waiting for hours as systems progressively failed. “It was a total shambles,” said Des Melville, who arrived at 8:15am to buy tickets for Alan Bennett, and other author events. “We waited and waited, nothing was happening. The queue wasn’t moving, it was stretched all the way to Charlotte Square.” And even though the festival’s coordinator, Catherine Lockerbie, termed all the glitches “frustrating,” commenters feel otherwise. “Heads should roll for this,” said Azza from Edinburgh. “The correct IT infrastructure clearly isn’t in place to support the booking system, but given the poor design of the website maybe this shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.”