Yesterday I went to the sixth annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair at the beautiful Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. Held inside a beautiful, restored church complete with stained glass windows, the fair brought together small publishers, authors, poets, artists, zinesters, and enthusiasts of all of sorts! Hundreds of people filled the large space, milling through rows of tables set up for the vendors selling a plethora of book-related wares.
I wandered through the fair, trying to take in as much as I could and admiring all of the beautiful things for sale. Vendors turned out with everything imaginable — used books, letterpress prints, post and notecards, jewelry, bookmarks, screen-printed t-shirts (my favorite bore the slogan “Buffalo Hates You Too”), leather journals, hand-bound notebooks, zines, and books of poetry, art, and fiction.
Oh gosh, the books! They were so beautiful! So many of the small-press publications were simply stunning — artfully designed covers that in many cases were hand-printed or bound. I was crazy impressed with these pieces of book art.
In addition to hundreds of fascinating vendors, the Small Press Book Fair also featured readings by authors and poets, presentations, and workshops. I only had an hour to spend at the fair (silly job, taking me away from books), so I chose to use my limited time exploring the vendor tables. However, the workshops seemed really cool; participants could attend a presentation about the platen letterpress and make their own prints, make a thaumotrope, and learn about the art and process of screen printing. How cool is that? I wish I had had more time to spend there!
Although I didn’t get to do any of the special activities the fair had to offer, I had a wonderful time browsing the fantastic wares people had for sale. And of course, I couldn’t leave empty-handed! See the photo below for my purchases. I happily left the fair with a BSPBF program (free, printed by the WNY Book Arts Collective); a great “think make think” letter-pressed bookmark (does anyone know who the picture of the guy is?); In-Between, a 36-page zine by Aijung Kim; The Really Funny Thing About Apathy, a collection of short stories by Chelsea Martin; Circulation, a novella by Tim Horvath; and Modern Love, a piece of short fiction by Andrew Scott. The last three books are published by an independent press called Sunnyoutside, one of the publishers of which I had a nice chat with. I’m so excited to read all of these!
I had an amazing time during my all-too-short hour of exploring the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. There were amazing things to see, and many of the vendors were eager to chat. One, a poetry publisher, even managed to shed a new light on poetry for me! I confessed that I find poetry intimidating and that I’ll sometimes read a poem and panic because I have no idea what the poet is taking about. He told me that it doesn’t always matter what the poem is about; rather, what matters is how the poem feels to me. He said I don’t have to understand what the author means to like a poem; it’s such a flexible medium that I can like other things about a poem. I’m still a little bit confused, but I’m looking forward to trying to apply this philosophy next time I read poetry!
Next week, April 1, the WNYBAC is holding its fourth annual Edible Book Festival April 1! The international event brings together bibliophiles, book artists, and food lovers to “celebrate the ingestion of culture and its fulfilling nourishment. So if you want to devour books in a more literal way than usual, head to your nearest Edible Book Festival!
Has anyone else been to a small press book fair or have similar events in their cities?