BBF 2021 Virtual Sessions FAQ

Laptop screen featuring BBF

As much as we want to see all of you in person in Copley Square and Nubian Square this October, our desire for our reading community to stay safe and healthy is our priority. Despite a few in-person sessions, this year, like last, the Boston Book Festival will be a week-long virtual event, kicking off on Friday, October 15.

At this point in the pandemic, many of us have grown accustomed to working with virtual tools, tuning into virtual programming, and the virtual conferencing and webinar options out there. But if not, or if you’re wondering what our 2021 virtual sessions are going to be like, here’s a bit of a primer for you!


What platform will you be using?

All of our BBF-hosted sessions will be held on Crowdcast. Crowdcast is a web-based broadcast platform (so no need to download and install any applications), and our Boston Book Festival Crowdcast hub can be found at Since Crowdcast broadcasts in webinar fashion, there’s no need to worry about having a camera or mic turned on, or people seeing your face or your name, unless you comment in the chat.

Will I only be able to watch? Or can I interact with others?

The great thing about Crowdcast is that not only do they offer the ability to watch the presenters in webinar style, but they have a live chat where you can interact with others tuning in as well. Some audiences stay silent, and some have a lively running commentary about favorite quotes or passages. It’s a great way to connect with the community virtually!

Will I be able to ask questions on Crowdcast?

Of course! Crowdcast has a button that allows you to submit your questions for the presenters. However, our prerecorded sessions won’t allow for live Q&A.

Can I use any browser for Crowdcast?

You can, but Crowdcast recommends Chrome for best performance (and it really is the best one!).

Can I watch on my phone?

You can! Crowdcast is available on mobile, either online or in the mobile app, but you’ll probably have the best experience on a laptop or desktop.

Do I have to register in advance?

Crowdcast does require a registration for attending a session, and you can certainly register now! They’ll send you a reminder before your session begins with a link to log on (which will be the same link where you registered). You can also register and log on right before the session as well. (Though registering in advance helps us anticipate numbers!)

Do I have to create an account with Crowdcast?

You do have to provide a name and email in order to access the session. You can upload a profile image if you choose so others can see your face in the chat if you decide to chat, or you use one of their anonymous avatars.

Does Crowdcast offer live closed captioning?

Unfortunately Crowdcast does not offer in-app live closed captioning, but live captions are available through the Chrome browser. You can find out how to turn them on here. However, if you’d like to tune in via Facebook, they do offer live captioning for you.

Can I go back and watch the session after it’s over with?

Yes! Everyone who registers for the session on Crowdcast will have access to rewatch it.

Will you be streaming on any platforms other than Crowdcast?

We will! We’ll also be simulcasting to our Facebook page, so you can watch it there as well. No need to preregister—simply tune in.

I see that some sessions will be prerecorded. What does that mean?

It means that we’ve recorded the discussion with the authors beforehand, so we’ll be broadcasting a recording that’s not live. However, you can still interact with the community in the live chat while you watch.

What do you mean that “BBF-hosted sessions will be held on Crowdcast”?

That means that all of the sessions the Boston Book Festival is producing ourselves will be on Crowdcast. However, some of our partners will be hosting their own sessions, like GBH and the Goethe-Institut. For those sessions, follow the links in our schedule to see how they will be hosting their virtual sessions.

Do I have to pay for the session?

The Boston Book Festival is a free event. We do have an option to donate when you register, and you can choose any amount you would like, but it’s not a requirement to have access to the session. However, for some of our sessions, the donations made at registration or during the session will be earmarked for either the Boston Globe’s Globe Santa Program, or to go towards our Shelf Help School Partnership program. (So a bit of incentive to donate!) And donations at any event can help us keep our festival programming—both in-person and virtual—free to all.

Will the in-person sessions have a virtual component?

The only in-person session that will also be live-streamed will be the Boston in 100 Words awards ceremony. Otherwise, our other in-person events (“A Warming World and Your WIP” and the Nubian Square/BPL Roxbury branch reopening festivities) will only be offered to those who are present.


That should be all you need to know about our BBF 2021 virtual sessions! Head to our full schedule to register today, and let us know if you have any further questions at

Share this post: