A Report from the Trenches: Volunteering at the Brooklyn Book Festival

Brooklyn’s Borough Hall hosted a fantastic event for Publishing on Sunday – the Brooklyn Book Festival.  But for the wind, which persisted in blowing bookmarks across tables, it was a beautiful day for over 160 vendors to congregate in the name of books.  Authors, publishers, and literary groups lined the sidewalks with booths dedicated to selling, promoting, or just talking about books.  I attended as a volunteer for the Women’s National Book Association, a non-profit organization of women (and some men) who work with and value books. It was one of many organizations there to promote reading and publishing.

The vendors in attendance were diverse, including everything from the Jane Austen Society to Harper Perennial to independent publishers advertising a single book.  Some of my personal favorites included the McSweeney’s booth (a publisher of books and literary journals, founded by Dave Eggers), and Joseph Koch’s Avalanche of Wonder (whose booth included an array of comics, graphic novels, and pop-culture paraphernalia).  The vendors were eager to talk about their projects, and everywhere you turned there were people discussing their new favorite publications.

The other main feature of the festival was a wide selection of events.  These events included workshops, readings from authors, book signings, and discussions on topics affecting the literary world.  The events were popular, and the line for tickets reached farther and farther back as the day progressed, into the crowd of book lovers and food vendors.  For students of publishing, this festival is a glimpse of what is happening now in publishing, from the smallest independents to the most famous authors.  I would highly suggest taking a walk to Borough Hall next year, and spending a few hours with the books.