Page last updated at 15:09 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 16:09 UK

Massive demand for book festival

sir sean connery
Sir Sean Connery's appearance at the festival has sold out

An appearance by Sir Sean Connery at Edinburgh's International Book Festival in August has sold out within an hour of going on sale.

Organisers said they were experiencing an unprecedented demand for tickets for book festival events.

Its website had more than 300,000 hits in its first hour and phone lines took more than 21,000 calls.

Other events which have already sold out include former MP Tony Benn and the BBC journalist Alan Johnston.

Festival dates including Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Dimbleby and Scotland's First Minster Alex Salmond have also sold out.

Sir Sean, who appeared at the opening night of the Edinburgh Film Festival on Wednesday with his arm in a sling, will appear at the book festival on 25 August.

Literary stars

The event, which will launch his autobiography Being a Scot, coincides with the veteran actor's 78th birthday.

The 2008 book festival programme is the biggest ever, with more than 800 authors appearing in Charlotte Square Gardens.

Other highlights include appearances from Salman Rushdie, Alan Sillitoe, Menzies Campbell and Louis de Bernieres.

Book festival director Catherine Lockerbie said: "It is enormously gratifying that literary stars and unknown authors from Scotland and further afield are able to attract such extraordinary interest."

She added: "We know that due to the extraordinary demand a large number of potential customers are finding it difficult to get through on the phone or via the internet, and would ask them to be patient and keep trying."

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