If you're finding the world of mainstream publishing slightly safe, your tastes might be better served by one of London's many book fairs. Discover the city's flourishing independent publishing scene and reinvigorate your bookshelves with fiction, poetry and zines that you definitely won't find in chain book stores. And book fairs are helpful too if you're a writer seeking publishing advice.
Bookwood Book Fair
At Bookwood book fair you can browse through a selection of the best from the indie scene, which this Sunday includes Arachne Press, And Other Stories, Influx Press, Jacaranda Books and more. Bookwood bookfair is an intimate affair giving you the opportunity to have a proper rummage without feeling overwhelmed by your ever-growing reading list.
Housed in a former derelict community college Netil Market's courtyard will be filled with the sound of contemporary authors and poets performing their work. If you like what you hear make a publisher happy by making a purchase.
We recently interviewed author Darran Anderson about Imaginary London. We recommend his publisher Influx Press, who take an interest in work that confronts the theme of place from under-explored perspectives. Hear Sam Berkson read from his latest collection Settled Wanderers, which features the poetry of Saharawi refugees in translation.
And Other Stories has published the brilliant Deborah Levy, (check out her intriguing novel Swimming Home). Their latest addition Susana Moreira Marques will read from her novel Now and at the Hour of Our Death, an exploration of family, community and terminal illness in rural northern Portugal. This is followed by a discussion with fellow author Niyai Keni about working with death and palliative care and both will share their tips on writing a debut.
Where? Netil Market 23 Westgate Street, London E8 3RL,
When? noon-5pm, 30th August, 27th September, 25th October, 29th November, 6th and 13th December 2015, free entry
London Art Book Fair
If art is more your thing you'd be mad to miss London Art Book Fair, the UK's largest annual gathering of books, catalogues and zines, plus rare and newly released publications from international artists. This year there's a Scandinavian art section too. Over the course of the weekend there will be talks, performances, book signings and workshops as well as over 90 stalls to peruse.
Alongside screenings and discussions about the arts publishing scene Performance as Poetry will be curating events for the fair inspired by Gertrude Stein’s reading of her poem If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso. Stein, known for her wordplay, rhythmical punning and unconventional portraits can't fail to inspire a fascinating programme of events.
Where? Galleries one and two, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX
When? 10th-13th September 2015, free entry
Free Verse Poetry Book Fair
The Free Verse Poetry Book Fair held annually at Conway Hall is testament to the UK's flourishing poetry scene. Set aside the whole day to explore the 85 stalls showcasing a diverse range of work from traditional to experimental and everything in between and outside these categories. The fair has a great atmosphere with publishers eager to make recommendations and they're always on the look out for poetry submissions. Conway Hall also hosts the Small Publishers Fair in November.
Throughout the day there will be specially-curated readings and talks so listen out for the ringing of the school bell which announces when a publishing talk is beginning. We recommend seeking out Penned in the Margins for innovative contemporary poets and Veer Books for experimental work, while Bloodaxe and Reality Street have produced excellent anthologies.
Chat to the publishers and you'll find they have an interesting place in our literary history. Ambit which produces attractive issues featuring poetry, artwork and short fiction has historical associations with JG Ballard.
Where? Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
When? 26th September 2015, free entry
Anarchist Book Fair
The Anarchist Book Fair acts as a safe space bringing disparate sections of the community together under one roof to share ideas, knowledge and literature which challenge the status-quo. Browse books, postcards and posters you definitely won't find in mainstream shops. Expect a mixed crowd of skinheads, campaigners and political activists.
Settle down with some vegan food, read your radical purchases or listen to talks on radical librarians, primitive communism, revolution and more.
Where? Central St Martins, 1 Granary Square, King's Cross, London N1C 4AA,
When? 24th October 2015, free entry
And one for next year... London Radical Book Fair
This year's London Radical Book Fair occured in May and took the book fair genre to a whole new level of bookish brilliance. Spread over a number of floors the fair showcased the best in radical publishing, not just from established acts like Verso, Zed, Zero, Pluto, Five Leaves and PM but also from publishers with fewer funds such as Myrdle Court, Merlin, Active and radical magazines such as STRIKE! and Red Pepper.
Besides book browsing, you could hear author talks or see a rooftop installation exploring the housing crisis, all accompanied by a soundtrack of poetry, political ranting and beatboxing out in the courtyard. We can't wait to see what the London Radical Book Fair has in store for us next year.