More Than A Gat ering of Dreamers

A Guide to Organizing &


at Book Fairs

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Edited by Ed Hogan
Joni. .. A!;ee

Jane Burnes Joseph Bruchac John Cra\l\iford Jim Dochniak Barbara Fisher George williem Fisher David Jackson Nicolas Kannelos Allan Kornblum Glenna Luschei Dennis Maloney Michael McCurdy Bruce R. McPherson Ron Nowicki Richard Alan Spiegel Martha Powers Williams Suzanne Zaydan


CO", IIl"a'mg CDI:~:lhJf, orary Magazines r Ih'~ Ave"",ue New YOlk 'IIew"01"ll1001'

A Guide to Organizing & Exhibiting at Book Fairs Edi ted by Ed Hogan
A resource publication produced by the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines 80 Eighth Ave. / New York, N.Y. 10011 with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts
Typeset by Ed Hogan/Aspect Composition 13 Robinson St., Somerville, Mass. 02145 Printed by Len Andersen Design by Ed Hogan Thanks to Charles E. Reilly for the phrase "a gathering of dreamers," taken from his article about the Philadelphia Book Fair in The Drummer, Philadelphia's alternative weekly (May 11, 1976). Friends of Books & Comics and Dennis Nolan for permission to use his gorilla logo created for the Third San Francisco International Book Fair. Where is Dennis Nolan? and to ~ ''l~ Jackie Eubanks, DeWitt Henry, Deborah Johansen, -: Nicholas Nyary, and Miriam Sagan.

More Cfhan A Gathering of Dreamers

About nine years ago, Friends of Books & Comics organized the first alternative book fair in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Featuring environmental, literary, how-to and self-help publishers, it demonstrated that non-establishment publishing was both surviving and growing. A year later, there was a gnawing in the belly of trade publishing, as the New York Book Fair presented its first exhibit of "black, Hispanic, literary, gay, experimental, and other" publishers at the N.Y. Cultural Center. A third major book fair took place the following spring in Boston. Book Affairs '75, '76, and '79 have been the most literaryfocused of these three cities' fairs. The following years brought a gradual increase in book fair activity around the country, with new events in Long Island, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis/ St. Paul (1976), and in Kansas City and Chicago (1978). As well, national and regional small press organizations began scheduling one-day book fairs in conjunction with their meetings, including COSM"EP conferences in Austin, Texas (1976) and Lenox, Mass .. (1977). By this time, it was clear that book fairs were a good way to gain concentrated media and public attention, sales, and contacts, and that smaller fairs had good potential for spreading these benefits to many more communities. With a 1978-79 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (CCLM) announced a program, administered by Nicholas Nyary, of modest assistance "designed primarily to encourage noncommercial literary book fairs in communities where there were none before." The results of the program were seed grants for 12 events:

Introduction ORGANIZERS Interview: Ruth Gottstein Martha Powers Williams: The First New York Book Fair Interview: Suzanne Zavrian Jonis Agee: Midwestern Writers' Festival & Book Fair John Crawford: Midwest Cultural Conference & Book Fair Jim Docbniak, Black Market Book Fair Barbara Fisher & Richard A. Spiegel: The Waterways Project George William Fisber: Long Island Book Fairs Ed Hogan: Book Affair David Jackson: An Intimate History of Michaux Book Fair Nicolas Kannelos: A Latino Book Fair Glenna Luscbei- Spilling Over: San Luis Obispo Book Fair Dennis Maloney: Sumrnerfest Bruce R. McPherson: Two Book Fairs: A Report Book Fair Organizing: A Checklist A Publishers' Guide to Annual & Semi-Annual Book Fairs EXHIBITORS Jane Barnes: Fair Trade Joseph Brucbac- Book Fairs & the Greenfield Review Allan Kornblum: Tables of Madness Michael Me Curdy: Penrnaen Press Ron Nowicki.· Book Fairs: San Francisco Style


3 5
7 12 15

21 23 25

April 20-21 May 18-20 June 3 June 16 July 13-14 July 14/15,
21/22, 28/29

32 34

37 40


Book Affair '79 (Cambridge, Mass.) Studio Museum (Michaux) Book Fair (Harlem) Second Midwest Cultural Conference (Kansas City, Mo.) Northern California Poets for Poetry Rally (Sacramento) Third Hoo Doo Poetry and Culture Festival (Galveston, Texas) Summerfest (Buffalo, N.Y.) New York State Waterways (Kingston, N.Y.) Washington, D.C. Book Fiir San Luis Obispo Book Fair (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)


Sept. 8-9 Sept. 29 Oct. 13-15

45 47 48

Fisher/Spiegel innocently enough when we were out after a business meeting, drinking wine. Jim Dochniak is an editor of Sez: A Multi-Racial Journal of Poetry & People's Culture.



The Waterways Project
Barbara Fisher & Richard Alan Spiegel
The Waterways Project of Ten Penny Players creates learning environments to make literature accessible to increased numbers of people and to demystify 'poetry' and 'poets' so that the reading and creating of poetry is considered as acceptable as other publishing endeavors. The project was developed by Richard Alan Spiegel and Barbara Fisher, Co-Directors of Ten Penny Players & Waterways and is administered and organized by both with the cooperation of member presses. The book fairs are generally held out of doors near waterways sites. Each fair includes exhibits by member presses and reading poets who are encouraged to bring their own chapbooks and exhibit them with the Combined; marathon poetry readings by poets published by the member presses, and local poets who have asked to read before the event. When organizing each fair, before coming into the community we contact local arts organizations, small presses, and planning boards to assure that the communities want the event and that local presses exhibit and local poets have an opportunity to read. This enables us to get a poem from each reading poet in advance which we publish in the Waterways Magazine that is issued at. each fair site. The magazine serves to document the fact that the publishers and poets are making poetry in this community and participating in an event that is open to the public. Admission is free at all the Waterways fairs and posters are hung and rehung and rehung in areas where we think people will notice them and encourage attendance. Member presses pay $20 a year which entitles them to exhibit at all the Waterways fairs at a reduced table rental ($10 for 6 feet of space or $20 for nonmembers) or to be part of the Combined. We haven't restricted numbers of titles that a publisher can exhib'1~


it at the Combined and if the tables get too full, we rotate titles during the exhibit. Since few of the fair sites enable us to accept delivery for and storage of ren tal tables we were forced to get wood and collapsible legs and create our own tables that are brought from site to site in a car borrowed from Richard's parents as we rarely (as yet) can afford to rent a vehicle. At each Fair Richard handles handles the introductions of the poets and makes sure that they are at the mike in time for their readings, or else finds another poet to substitute as some readers arrive early and others are late. (We rarely have no-shows.) We have discovered that microphones are essential for outdoor events. Barbara stays with the publishers and handles the Combined. During the first year we took no distributor's fee for sales made at the Combined. We are now charging 15% of sales which helps us cover the costs of informational mailings to the members (about one a month, except more often when we're doing fairs) and covers the check and postage fees for payments. Overall sales for individual presses are hard to estimate as they are dependent on cost of materials, the type of audience we've attracted at a particular fair, and whether a local press has saturated the community already with sales. As presses have rejoined and keep taking space at the fairs we assume they feel the returnsfinancial and audience interest-merit the investment of time, energy and money. Our Combined does well as we know what we have on the tables and can talk about the contents of other publishers' books as well as about our own. Letterpress materials always move as do miniature books and our own child poet series. The Waterways Magazine is printed in an edition of 100-125 copies. Each reading poet receives a copy as do the member presses and the subscribers. Others are sold at the Fair sites. Sales have as yet to recoup printing costs, but they grow. The first round of book fairs started on July 4th at South Street Seaport Museum. We conducted the poetry readings under umbrellas as the rains came down on that day and were a continual plague through the summer. If the Farmer's Almanac is correct we will have many rain dates to anticipate during the 1980-81 season as well. We have discovered however, that the poetry audience is just as stalwart about rain as sports fans are about weather. Despite rain, if we had poets reading, we had listeners. At Pier 84 the mikes carried the poems out to passengers aboard the Circle DayLiner. At South Street they stood inthe rain for more than 3 hours. We were rained out totally only at one event-the newly opened pier-park at Long Island City. Being optimistic, we took the borrowed car full of tables and books to the site in case the rain stopped. Other optimistic souls (all poets and poet-publishers) also arrived and joined us for coffee and banana bread in the car where we stayed for several hours .. Interestingly enough, people




did arrive in cars to see if there would be an event and was unusual for us (in addition to being indoors) as a reporter from Newsday showed up to photograph it was the first project that solicited participation by the fair had there been one. commercial presses, who pay a higher membership By the end of September we had 32 member fee. We only invited those commercial presses that presses. The closing event for the summer was a twohave evinced a continuing interest in poetry and they day book fair on Rondout Creek in Kingston as part were asked to exhibit only their poetry lists. Norton of the Hudson Heritage Museum Festival. The weathshowed 137 books of poetry in hardcover and soft er was gorgeous, but the readings were made difficult and Viking exhibited 21 poetry books (hard & soft) at times by the steamboat docked nearby which set for adults and nine for children. They were well reoff whistle blasts at regular intervals. However, the ceived by both public and the other exhibitors. Our whistles prevented the boat from exploding and also, feeling is that all poetry publishers have trouble reachthe boat regularly took on and discharged passengers ing an audience and the only way to encourage conwho frequently lingered to hear the poets read. tinued publication is to foster access to readers. (There were about 50 readings over the two days.) Our members include offset as well as letterSince ours are open air events and people mill about press printers; poetry for and by children, adults and constantly, it's hard to estimate crowds except at senior citizens; poetry in English, in translation and those moments when you do a deliberate head count. sometimes in other languages. Our project is accesOur feeling is that we've had anywhere from 25 browsible to diverse members of the public because it is sers and listeners to several hundred at various times truly reflective of what is happening in New York of day at most of the sites. State right now-who is writing, who is reading, and In September we announced that we were planwho is publishing. ning the next round of fairs and were taking renewals We were invited by the NYC Department of and accepting new members. The first event we did Ports & Terminals to use the piers for book fairs as (in December) was indoors at Loeb Student Center part of their program to turn the piers into recreation of NYU as part of the Countdown Program for the areas. Since our program is clearly nonprofit, we 1980 Winter Olympics. The day was to be a celebradidn't have to pay the city rental as concessionaires to tion of poetry and as a consequence we only wanted use the piers. In Kingston we were invited to be the poetry presses to exhibit. The Olympic people were 'literary' event for the two-day celebration by the Nasupposed to have gotten us a free midtown location, tional Maritime Historic Society who also invited us to optimally on a weekend when we :vere assured that do a two-day book fair on their pier at Fulton Ferry poets, publishers, and public would have more time Landing in Brooklyn. for such an event. When they could not come through One of the greatest sources of frustration of the with a suitable place or date we were forced to rent ". Waterways Project is doing open air hot weather propart of Loeb for a weekday, the only available time. jects close to water so polluted that you can't use it We wound up with 26 exhibiting presses. We had ,. for a swim. Home Planet News lost a poster to the been told that the traffic flow at Loeb is enormous. , North River this summer when we did a fair at the And indeed it is, right through the front door and .i·. Bulkhead at Bank Street in Greenwich Village. Dedownstairs to the pinball machines. Poetry is no com.. ~spite their distress at losing the artwork Don Lev and petition for the magic of pinball. Enid Dame stoically accepted the loss rather than fight All summer our presses had been complaining the oily river. We are writing and phoning various that the readings were held too close to the exhibit agencies and authorities to schedule fairs upstate for area and were interfering with their talking to the the coming summer near waters that are cleaner. public and hurt sales. At Loeb we were able to get a The budget for the program depends on how separate area for the readings as a group from NYU much money is available. Each issue of the magazine 'unofficially' sponsored the event with us. The comcosts about $100; each press mailing averages $60. We plaints then were that the publishers couldn't hear send out press releases for every function. Usually the readings and that the traffic flow from perforone announces the event and two to four follow, demance to exhibit area was hampered. The readers pending on how much 'news' we have and how far complained that the audience was too comfortable ahead we are promoting. Each press mailing goes to and not attentive enough. Yet some of the readers between 100 and 400 sources and is always sent first did grip them. As at any poetry reading a combinaclass to assure it arriving for media deadlines. We tion of material, performance dynamic and luck dedon't have money for paid advertising and are at the cide the excitement and interest level of the audimercy of the 'free listings' in all the print media and ence. free spots on radio and TV. We have had increasing Despite the 'slow' traffic, table fees for many of coverage from the weeklies (newspapers & magazines), the presses were made back. We know that for a fact a few good mentions in the dailies and zilch cooperaas we sent checks out to members of the Combined tion from radio and TV. and also talked to some of the presses later. This fair The mailings and magazines are generally done

Fisher offset at a local printer who is fast, reasonable in price and prorates paper costs for us so that if we need 126 rather than 100 or 200 we can get it. Some things are done on our own letterpresses. The magazine has been expanded to a regular bi-monthly format that will document poetry being made in workshops and at other performance readings. Additionally, we are d?ing a series of inserts in the magazine when appropnate. For instance, at Loeb Student Center we had scheduled a group of child poet readers from a local elementary school. We felt it inappropriate to the children's material in an issue that had matenal in it that was rather explicit in sexual tone. So we did a separate chap book of the children's poems, printed a letterpress cover and distributed that sepa:ate~y. We have chapbook inserts planned for u~commg .Issues. We are developing a catalog of matenals published by member presses and services offered by them in order to have in one reference guide bibliographic and informational material for those interested. Addresses of the member presses will be included (as th~y are printed on the cover of every issue of the magazine) so that people can contact members directly for more information or books. When funds are available we pay reading poets. We've had some small grants that have helped us mount fairs, pay poets, publish the magazines, from the same agencies that other small presses go to for aid. Too, we've had cETA-paid poets reading at various sites who are part of programs run by the Cultural Council Foundation and the American Jewish Congress' Martin Steinberg Center for the Arts. ", We don't have a paid staff although every once in a while finances are stretched (because of individual contributors to the program primarily) to include fees to the directors. These are small and unfortunately don't compensate for the more than fulltime commitment needed for projects such as these. The program anticipated for 1980-81 incl~des at least seven book fairs, 11 issues of the magazme & supplements, a bibliographic catalog, a lecture seri~s contrasting 19th & 20th century poets to be done m the spring at South Street Seaport Museum. and in~luding Native Americans, Blacks, ,and Women 1D the hIS-, toric and contemporary overview, a poetry and publication project to be done with handicapped and well children in 16 public schools, South Street and at our own loft, and an outreach program that will include the opening of a resource center to develo,p listening and reading audiences for contemporary literature. It is our belief that a book fair can only effect change in attitudes if it is somehow tied i.nto ~ore than a community need for a few hour dIVerSIOnproject. That conviction leads us to the more fully rounded program described above. ., We have discovered that co-sponsorship often means that another organization wants us to rescue them from bad press or lack of program. NYC needs



More on the Waterways FairS
Budgets-We didn't give you budgets as those vary according to what we're doing and where and there is no definitive amount needing to be spent each time except for promotion and publishing/printing and those figures are in the text. For your information, however, budgets seem to go between $200 and $800 a fair depending on whether it's one or two-day, in the city or out of it. As of January 1980, 37 publishers had exhibited at one or more of eight Waterways events held between July 4 and December 13, 1979, and approximately 150 poets had read and been published in the Waterways Maga'Zine,


projects on its newly renovated piers that are free of charge and cultural. We are certainly that. The Olympics were suffering from a mi~imall.iterary'pro~r~m and an arts project that wasn t ethmcally diversified. We are literary, have a program and a membership that is as ethnically and gender diversified as is our state. And so it went with other Waterways fairs that were supposedly co-sponsored, We supplied ,:mr own budget, organized the events, did the promotlOn, and carried it off ourselves, with the members and the poets, However, independence is worth it. No one censors our publishers or the reading poets; we decide ourselves who reads and what we ourselves publish, The public is free to make its choices as to who gets listened to or what they purchase to take home and read. Our events remain free, open to anyone who wants to attend, are accessible via public transportation, and we are creating a climate where publishers regularly can communicate with each other and the public through their own vision and where poets fr<:>m many different cliques, schools, and l:vels of .exp~nence can have their moment at the mike and in pnnt. Barbara Fisher and-Richard Alan Spiegel operate Ten Penny Players, a publisher of poetry, fiction, and plays for readers aged 3-12.

Long Island Book Fairs
George William Fisher
The First and Second Long Island Small Press Book Fairs were held on October 23-24, 1976 and June 17-18, 1978, sponsored by the Long Island Poetry Collective, Inc. The Collective had been around since 1973, beginning as a poetry workshop, ~inding earl~ outlets through open readings and a rrumeo magazme. By early 1974, we had encountered surprising numbers of poets and poetry lovers on L~n~ Isl~nd, and.had found no existing means of obtaining information

The Co mittee of hode Island Small Presses
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Rhode Island
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