Second Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park March 29th, 1997
by Chuck0 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On Saturday, March 29, 1997, anarchists and other bibliophiles gathered from around the world in San Francisco for the Second Annual Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair. Bound Together Books, a San Francisco anarchist collective bookstore, sponsored the event. While the focus was on books, there were also speakers and an art show.
I really enjoyed the Fair. I was there as an exhibitor for Spunk Press, an online anarchist archive. We had a demo of the full archive set up on a laptop. Folks surfed our archive and picked up our flyers. Spunk has done demos at other anarchist book fairs, including a recent one in the U.K.
There were around 40 vendors, which ranged from anarchist book distributors to infoshops to used bookstores. Who was there? There were tables from AK Press (anarchist book distributor), Bound Together Books (anarchist bookstore on Haight St.), Slingshot (infoshop in Berkeley), Anarchy magazine, The Autonomous Zone (Chicago infoshop), E.G. Smith (distributors), Blackout Books (New York), Loompanics (infamous distributors), City Lights Books, Food Not Bombs, Free Radio Berkley (pirate radio), Left Bank Books and Distribution (anarchist bookstore in Seattle), Spunk Press, Planet Drum, III Publishing, Black Autonomy magazine, Flatland magazine, The Kate Sharpley Library (U.K.), hemp activists, several zines and several other bookstores. I had heard complaints that last year's Fair had too many non-anarchist tables, but my impression was that anarchist-related tables predominated at this event.
Several thousand visited during the 8 hours the Fair was open. There were alot of punks among the visitors, but I think the Fair had a wide range of attendees. I'm sure that several hundred just dropped in because it was a nice day and they were visiting the park.
There were speakers who spoke in an auditorium next to the main room. This auditorium also included an art fair and the cafe (vegan pizza, sandwiches, microbrew, wine ... all catered). Speakers included Carol Queen (sex positive radical -- I bought her book), Harry Hay (a founder of the modern gay movement), J.G. Eccarius (Last Days of Christ the Vampire), Jane Doe (Anarchist Farm), California American Indian Movement activist Carol Standing Elk, Lorenzo Komboa Ervin, and Jello Biafra. There were about 50 people consistently for the speakers and several hundred for Jello. Artists being shown included Freddie Baer, Johann Humy Being, John Yates, Winston Smith, and others.
The Spunk table was sandwiched between the Slingshot table and the Anarchy magazine table. Slingshot was doing a brisk business selling their "organizers" t-shirts, and patches. The patches were so popular that they kept spilling over onto our table. Patches are these little silk-screened cloth things that punks sew on their jackets. They also sold out of their "Smash TV" t-shirts. I bought a "Free Radio Berkley" t-shirt, but was disappointed that they didn't have my size for the "Rent is theft" shirt.
Anarchy:AJODA magazine has a new issue out. They also had new t-shirts designed by Jame Koehnline and they've published a new Bob Black book, which is critical of Murray Bookchin.
The Fair and other informal events held during the weekend created the atmosphere of a mini-gathering, sans workshops. I got to see friends that I'd only known on email, as well as old friends and new ones. I got a chance to meet archivists from the Kate Sharpley Library, the Labadie Collection, and the Anarchy Archives in Massachusetts.
All in all a very exciting and intellectually stimulating event. Let's hope they do it again next year.
For more info on the fair: http://burn.ucsd.edu/~mai/sanfranfair.html
Spunk Press: http://www.spunk.org/
AK Press: http://www.akpress.org/
Left Bank: http://www.eskimo.com/~jonkonnu/catalog.html
E.G. Smith: http://www.infinet.com/~egsmith/
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