The Intern Journals #2

Welcome back for the second edition of my blog!

Last Saturday I was up early to check out the Harlem Book Fair with Todd.  This is an important event for Blacker Inkwells since it shares a similar goal with the Book Fair: promoting African-American literature.  Although I live near Harlem, it was the first time I had been to the Fair, which attracts thousands of authors, publishers and buyers annually.

On a day hot enough for some Fahrenheit 451 action, three rows of plastic tables lined the blocked off street.  Authors who had reserved space had been there setting up since nine, and by the time we arrived it was already a bustling scene.  It reminded me of the street Fairs I am used to seeing in my neighborhood; except instead of stands selling anything from gyros to plants to socks, it was only for books and far more condensed.

The atmosphere there was surprisingly intense.  With sellers constantly vying for our attention, we couldn’t walk a few steps before being passed a flier or called over to a table.  This certainly wasn’t my typical book-buying experience.  Never once had an author personally tempted me to a nearby aisle in a Barnes and Noble.  Getting this kind of close attention from those involved with the making of the book was exciting and definitely worthwhile.

With the weak economy as the greatest factor, this year’s Fair was slower than past ones, according to Todd.  A fast year, I’m assuming, then is something more resembling the running of the bulls.

My reaction to the Fair was split: part inspiration, part intimidation.  As someone who loves reading and writing it’s easy to be moved by sharing a city block with so many who share these passions.  It was motivating from the standpoint of someone wanting to make a career out of writing to walk through and take it all in.  After all, here was example after example of people who completed the arduous process of publishing, whether by writing or working behind the scenes, all neatly laid out in front of me in rows.

Intimidation also played a role in my day due to the sheer size and social significance of the event.   To give you a sense of what I mean, there were chartered buses from as far as Florida that came just for the Fair (literally, we saw Greyhounds parked out front).  Then there was the tenacity of some of the sellers.  But then again you have to keep in mind how much these writers have out on the line – selling their work is also selling who they are or what they believe.

Getting a first-hand tour of the event also got me excited for next year, when Blacker Inkwells will be back with a vengeance.  Without giving anything away right now, let me just say you won’t want to miss it.

Thanks again for checking out the blog…

Scott

Posted in blackerinkwells by setkin on July 26th, 2010 at 1:08 pm.

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