Book Fairs in the United States – An Introduction
The United States is the biggest book publishing center in the world when it comes to English titles and enjoys enormous popularity in the country as a whole. One of the major success factors for this is the large abundance of major book fairs in the United States that establish a common platform for book distributors and readers of all ages and genres to come together in one place.
I’ve always wanted to visit the major book fairs in the United States but a lot of times, I would only come to know about it on the last day of the fair! I’m sure this must have happened a lot with you people as well and am sure it irritates the hell out of you. So I thought of putting together one detailed post that covers all the major book fairs in the US along with the dates that they are held on and in which place. I’m sure it will make life much, much easier for all of us who’re looking for this information.
However, please note that this list of the major book fairs in the United States is not final and I may have missed out a couple of the important ones or maybe there are some new ones starting. If that’s the cease and you know about it, please feel free to contribute via the comments section below so that I can keep this list of the major book fairs in the United States updated.
The Reason for the Popularity of Book Fairs in the United States
Whenever I talk to people about book fairs, they get the impression that I simply visit them for want of good discounts. Although yes, many publishers do often give out nice discounts at book fairs, that’s not my primary reason for going. Heck, if all I wanted was a great discount, I could much more easily do that by sitting in the comfort of my home and ordering books from Amazon! And if you’ve never heard about the amazing discounts that Amazon offers on books; then you should probably take a look at this page to know what I’m talking about.
The primary reason why I always make it a point to visit some of the major book fairs in the United States is because it gives me a chance to interact with new authors, learn about books and genres that I otherwise would have missed and to make lots of friends from the industry. I also get to be part of cultural programs, book recitals, some nice giveaways by authors and other interesting things and that gives me a new kind of high. It’s truly a rare treat for those who enjoy and appreciate the marvels of the written word.
To better illustrate what I mean, there’s no better reference than that of the most famous book fair acquisition probably ever (though most people probably don’t know about its book fair origin):
“I discovered Harry Potter at the Bologna Book Fair, which is an international book fair in Bologna, Italy, that I go to every year. This was 1997, and I was setting up my imprint, Arthur A. Levine Books, and visiting all of my colleagues at publishers around the world because that’s what you do at a book fair. The Bologna fair is where international publishers from all around the world get together to talk to each other about the books on their list, and they get to share.” – Arthur A. Levine, in an interview posted on Scholastic’s website, describing how he discovered “Harry Potter”
The rest, as they say, is history: 18 languages, countless millions of copies sold, and billions of dollars to J. K. Rowling (who by the way has moved on beyond Harry Potter and is now out with her first adult novel titled, The Casual Vacancy)
So without any further delay, I present to you my painstakingly created list of the major book fairs in the United States. I’ve listed them in a random order but have tried to give an accurate representation of each of them. In some case, wherever possible, I’ve even listed out the dates that these book fairs in the United States are usually held on.
1. BookExpo America (BEA)
BookExpo America or more commonly known in the US as BEA is one of the biggest annual book fairs in the United States and is usually held over a period of 4 days mostly in May/June. Since this is a hugely popular book trade fair, some of the biggest publishing houses from all over the world set up their booths and exhibits and BookExpo America serves as a great place to showcase upcoming titles, sell current books, socialize with colleagues from other publishing houses, and sell and buy subsidiary rights and international rights
This year BookExpo America is being held from June 4th – June 7th, 2012 in New York City and some of the most famous authors, librarians, and buyers for book retailers will be attending this event.
When: June 4th – June 7th, 2012
Where: Javits Center, New York City
Official Website: http://www.bookexpoamerica.com/
2. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
One of my personal favourite book fairs in the United States is the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books which is a book fair as different as any can be. It’s one of the most youthful and vibrant book fairs in the US and is a free, public festival that celebrates the written word.
It was started in the year 1996 and was started by the University of Southern California and is usually held in the last weekend of April. However, this year it was held on April 21st – April 22nd, 2012 and was a cracker of an affair. I attended it myself personally and there were loads of activities such as author panels, storytelling and even some amazing performances by children based on the theme of books!
It’s also the place where the Los Angeles Times Book Prize is awarded. The next edition of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will be held on April 20th – April 21st, 2013 at the USC campus.
When: April 20th – April 21st, 2013
Where: University of Southern California Campus
Official Website: http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/
3. Alternative Press Expo (APE)
This one’s for all the comic book lovers out there. The Alternative Press Expo or more commonly known as Comic-Con is the largest comic book fairs in the United States and was started in the year 1994 by Dan Vado, as an event for self-publishers, independent publishers and alternative cartoonists to showcase their books. Since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds and is now an annual haven for comic book fanatics.
Starting off as a one day event, the APE is now a two day event and this year’s edition is being held from October 13th – October 14th, 2012 in San Francisco. I’ve taken the below information from the official website:
“APE is celebrating its 19th year in the Bay area and will once again have a full programming schedule, including panels and workshops, with a focus on the event’s special guests. Already signed on as guests for APE 2012 are Sergio Aragonès, Eric Drooker, all three Hernandez brothers, Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario (celebrating the 30th anniversary of Love & Rockets), Ben Katchor, and Jim Woodring.”
When: October 13th – October 14th, 2012
Where: Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco, CA
Official Website: http://www.comic-con.org/ape/
4. The Texas Book Festival
Another one of the major book fairs in the United States is the Texas Book Festival that was started in 1995 by the then First Lady of Texas, Laura Bush. It was started mainly to promote the joy of reading and as a platform to celebrate the success of Texas authors and to benefit the state public library.
Thanks to the high profile nature of the people behind this book fair, the Texas Book Festival has grown rapidly and now boasts of hosting more than 2000 authors every year. Each year, the festival honors a writer with the “Bookend Award” for outstanding contribution to the literature of Texas. Apart from that, there are a whole range of activities that take place during the festival and it’s a must visit in my opinion.
The next edition of this book fair will take place between October 27th – October 28th, 2012 in Austin, Texas.
When: October 27th – October 28th, 2012
Where: State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas
Official Website: http://www.texasbookfestival.org/
5. The Boston Book Festival
Combine a street festival with a book fair and what do you get? Well, that’s the Boston Book Festival for you which one of the few non-profit book fairs in the United States founded in 2009 to “celebrate the power of words to stimulate, unite, delight, and inspire by holding an annual event that highlights the importance of literacy, literature, and ideas in our culture.”
One of my personal favorite activities from this book fair is the “One City One Story” reading program that was started in 2010. Of all the book fairs in the United States, the Boston Book Festival is the only one which holds something of this sort.
“One City One Story is the BBF’s version of an all-city read, but instead of a book, we print and distribute a short story. Our goal is to make a short story available to all free of charge, to spread the joy of reading for pleasure among the teens and adults of our city, and to create a community around a shared reading experience”
The last edition of the Boston Book Festival was held on 15th October, 2011 and the next one is scheduled for October 27th, 2012 at Copley Square. I, for one, will definitely see you there!
When: October 27th, 2012
Where: Copley Square, Boston
Official Website: http://www.bostonbookfest.org/
6. The National Book Festival
One of the oldest “official” book fairs in the United States is the National Book Festival that is held annually in Washington, D.C and is organized by the Library of Congress. It’s a very popular book festival and the last edition attracted over fifty nationally published authors, illustrators, and poets for lectures, readings, interviews, and book signings.
The honorary co-chairs for the National Book Festival since 2008 have been President and Mrs. Obama and one of the unique features of this book fair is the fact that librarians from libraries across the country are invited every year to represent each state.
The upcoming event is scheduled to be held on September 22nd – September 23rd, 2012 and a lot of activities have already been planned for this year’s event.
When: September 22nd – September 23rd, 2012
Where: Washington, D.C
Official Website: http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/
7. Miami Book Fair International
Similar to the Boston Book Fair, this is also a two day street fair that First takes place at the Florida Center for the Literary Arts in Wolfson Campus. It was originally called Books by the Bay way back in 1984.
The centerpiece of the Book Fair is an event called “Festival of Authors”, with guest-writers from several styles and countries. The next edition will be held from November 11th – November 18th, 2012 while the Street Fair happens from the 16th – 18th of November, 2012.
When: November 11th – November 18th, 2012
Where: Miami Dade College, Miami
Official Website: http://www.miamibookfair.com/
Well, that completes my list of the major book fairs in the United States and I think I’ve covered almost all of them in detail. However, like I said, this list is not sacrosanct and if you know of any other big or important book fairs in the United States that I’ve failed to mention, do drop me a line below and I’ll make sure to have it included in this comprehensive list of book fairs in the United States