Hundreds of publishers, authors and book lovers will be making their way to the Christian Book Expo in Dallas starting Thursday for the first-of-its-type book fair.
"Those who love Christian books are in for an unforgettable weekend," says Mark Kuyper, president of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), which is sponsoring the inaugural event. "More than 200 Christian authors will connect with fans during Christian Book Expo. There's never been an event quite like this before!"
Among the thousands of attendees will be more than 230 authors, including Max Lucado, Lee Strobel, and Don Piper. Also joining the event will be best-selling atheist author Christopher Hitchens, who is scheduled to take on four Christian apologists during a Saturday afternoon panel, titled "Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?"
The presence of the Oxford-educated author, whose book God Is Not Great has sold more than 300,000 copies in hardback, has added to the buzz surrounding the already much-talked-about event.
The Christian Book Expo, which will run for three days, features150 author-led workshops and seminars, as well as mini-events and evening programming. Its exhibit hall, which opens at 9 a.m. on Friday, will feature more than 60 organizations representing tens of thousands of Christian books. More than a quarter of the 389,000 square feet that the ECPA secured at the Dallas Convention Center for the Christian Book Expo has been designated for exhibit floor space.
"Our goal with the Christian Book Expo is to connect the top authors from across the country with core customers from the region," says ECPA President Kuyper. "We are dedicated to reaching the largest audience possible with the life-changing message in books, Bibles and other Christian resources."
Kicking off the Mar. 20-22 event will be the Christian Book Awards Dinner on Thursday evening, when the 2009 winners of the Christian Book Awards, including the Christian Book of the Year, will be announced.
Other notable events during the Christian Book Expo include:
• African-American Pavilion, a special booth that features African American publishers and authors plus autograph sessions, special guests, book readings and giveaways;
• Bible Across America Tour, the six-month cross-country effort of publishing giant Zondervan to gather handwritten verses from 31,173 people for a special Bible that will be offered to the Smithsonian Institution;
• Bible History Experience, a museum-quality exhibit including an historical tour of ancient biblical manuscripts, an exact replica of the Gutenberg Press, and more; and
• Screenings of "Collision," a documentary film that follows anti-theist journalist Christopher Hitchens and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson during their 2008 debates-authors to attend screening.