Monday, 26 October 2009
Small Publishers Book Fair 2009
Advance warning: this will be on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th November at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. both days. CBe will have a table. I’ll post a reminder nearer the time, but meanwhile . . .
‘Small’ is relative. Is Hesperus small? Alma? Pushkin? Salt? Tindall Street? Yes, relative to Random House (but none of this band are showing at the fair); no, relative to Reality Street Editions or, say, Tufnell Art Press. The word ‘publisher’ here is also slippery, as the great majority of the exhibitors at this fair are not producing the kind of books you’ll find in Waterstone’s (or indeed on amazon). RGAP, who organise the fair, is an ‘artist-led organisation’, and in most of the work on show the visual interest trumps the literary.*
So CBe, whose books (except for the Jack Robinsons**) are text and not image, will be odd man out. (Not entirely: Shearsman will be there too, and among the visual extravaganza you’ll occasionally find some very fine text: the poetry of Thomas A. Clark, for example, published by Moschatel Press.) But I won’t feel that way, because the common factor uniting all the exhibitors is that they are vocational publishers – publishing, that is, not in the expectation of making a profit or even a living out of it, but for the difficult pleasure of the activity itself.
That said, a living does need to be made, by hook or by crook or by book, so bring money.
* Is it just me that finds it odd that, while there are book fairs for artists’ books and comic books, etc, there’s no national UK book fair for non-mainstream literary publishers? (Not even a fringe event at the London Book Fair, or as an add-on to one of the major literary festivals. I’m sure other countries have these things.)
** Yesterday morning my local (Labour) councillor knocked on the door, and then along came my (Labour) MP. Did I have any ‘issues’ I wanted to discuss? They went off with copies of Jack’s Recessional and the W12 book.