Sunday, 15 November 2009
Was it worth it? – sitting for two days behind a table at the book fair. Well, I was stuffed with a cold, and overdosed on Sudafed to keep me breathing, so I couldn’t have got anything else done; but that’s no answer. And the financial reckoning is only a part of it. More than enough books were sold to cover the payment for the table, but I think very few of the folk travelling from outside London (Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Norway . . .) covered their costs for the trip. It’s to do with conversations, new people, common interests (Judy Kravis from Road Books on the next table knew Grace Paley, was hugged by Grace Paley, and taught Ponge to literature students in Ireland; the chap behind the CBe table above, by the way, is Toby, sitting in while I took a coffee break).
A visiting friend remarked, amazed, surveying the crowded hall: ‘All these people are interested in books!’ There was that, but there’s a more specialised common interest here in books (and pamphlets, cards, posters) as objects of design (some handmade, some printed in tiny editions), and text-heavy CBe is far from being one of the main gang. Design here is often at least as important as content, sometimes is the content. As a celebration of the variety of bookmaking, this annual event is a glorious thing; and I felt more comfortable here than I would do in a more commercial book fair, or even one devoted exclusively to, say, poetry publishers; but I doubt this is CBe’s natural habitat.