D.C. is no stranger to huge international conferences or book fairs, but the International Summit of the Book sounds like a supersized mash-up of both. Sponsored by the Library of Congress, the event brings together speakers from four continents to debate the significance of the book as an essential part of democracy. National library representatives, authors, and publishing moguls will be in the house to discuss the role of literature in every area of life, and how the book—as an object and a concept—has changed over time. Local figures like the Washington Post’s former Book World Editor Marie Arana and Librarian of Congress James Billington are on the schedule, but it’s the international contingent, which includes London’s former Sunday Times Editor Sir Harold Evans, that adds heft. Sounds like a dream for book nerds, sure, but not the same kind of nerds who line up for J.K. Rowling signings. This one’s for the hardcore.

The conference begins at 2 p.m. Thursday and continues through Dec. 7 at the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. Registration required. (202) 707-1737. loc.gov.