Record numbers exhibit at indie presses fair

Record numbers exhibit at indie presses fair

Sixty-eight small presses will be descending on Central London's Conway Hall in the second week of November, for the 17th edition of the Small Publishers' Fair.

With the largest number of exhibitors in the event’s history, the fair will showcase books by artists, poets, writers, book designers and their publishers. Two-thirds of the exhibiting publishers will be travelling to London from bases as far flung as Amsterdam (Boekie Woekie), Berlin (Red Sphinx), Tokyo (Yasushi Cho / Laughter) and Venice (Damocle Edizioni). Participating UK publishers include Hoxton Mini Press, ottoGraphic, Test Centre, Shearsman Books and CB Editions.

Participation is by invitation, and programming is a "careful balancing act" in terms of geography, types of press, and blending new faces and previous participants, says organiser Helen Mitchell.

"It is important that the Small Publishers’ Fair has many publishers from outside London", she added. "The fair has always been about bringing great small publishers to London from across the UK and further afield."

She added: "In the years since the first fair in 2002, many similar events have come on the scene—a good few are in London, meaning that London publishers have a good range of options for getting their work out there. The Small Publishers' Fair's focus on two-thirds of exhibitors coming from beyond London brings new faces for the city’s audiences to discover and draws visitors to the capital for the fair to see this showcase of some of the best of this thriving sector."

The fair is distinctive for the quality and range of work on show, which includes artists’ books, fine press editions, zines, poetry pamphlets and postcards. Many of these works are usually only available to purchase online.

The fair is also an important meeting ground for the publishers themselves, many of which often attend the fair even if they are not exhibiting. "Many new projects have their beginnings from conversations held at the fair," said Mitchell.

The first fair, in 2002, took place at the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall. The following year, it moved to Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, which is described as a "landmark of London’s independent intellectual, political and cultural life". Mitchell says "it’s a natural home for the Small Publishers’ Fair".