Hello my Freaky Darlings,
Today saw the end of the very long weekend that was The Jozi Book Fair.
The Book Fair got off to a rocky start on Friday afternoon, when organisers weren’t ready for participants to set up at the designated time. Organisers were reduced to asking participants and delegates if they had printouts of the floor plan so that they could direct people to where their stalls were. The fact that the stalls hadn’t been completed and weren’t ready for us to use was a sign of what the book fair would become known for – Poor Organisation!
The other thing that was, sadly obvious, was that politics was on the agenda and not the business of books. Most of the talks and round tables centred around political topics and not around book distribution, marketing or publicity which are topics on the forefront of anyone in the publishing industries mind.
We are also told that one of the most important factors in any endeavour is location, location, location. The location for this weekends fair was the Museum Africa in New Town, Johannesburg. The museum has a wonderful exhibition, but was not the best venue for the fair and was probably the reason for the poor turn out and lack of interest from the general public. Also the fact that two of the international guest speakers were mugged right outside it’s main doors also didn’t help matters.
Unless those involved with organising The Jozi Book Fair focus on the importance of getting the right structures and administration in place, I have a sinking feeling that The Jozi Book Fair will not last long and that is incredibly sad.
On the plus side, unlike most other book fairs, the focus of The Jozi Book Fair was on the small, independent publisher and not the big boys. Hopefully if there is improvement on this years fair, next year will see the participation of more dealers and more industry movers and shakers. I personally am looking forward to seeing how it develops.
See you all at the next one!
One thought on “The Jozi Book Fair”
I agree completely with your views. Apart from the disorganisation (and a complete lack of communication with potential participants) I also wonder if the organisers have any clear idea of who their market is, or whether they do any promotion, since the book fair seemed very sparsely attended.
Perhaps they need to decide just who the fair is aimed at – authors and the publishing industry, readers, or to promote reading to potential readers – and then promote widely to ensure they get the target market to attend.
And sadly, until books are the main feature at a book fair, rather than political discussion, I won’t be in any hurry to attend again.