APRIL 2015: A Report from the Book Fair
Last week, the fourth annual APRIL happened. APRIL is a festival of small press publishing that takes place in the city of Seattle. There were events all week, ranging from readings to a seance at the Sorrento Hotel where it is rumored that the ghost of Alice B. Toklas haunts. Every event during the week featured small press folks in one way or another and the week culminated with the book fair on Sunday, March 29. This is my interpretation of my experience as a book seller.
My flight landed in the Seattle area at 6:15pm on Saturday, March 28. I checked into my hotel, did some last minute book fair things (printed out flyers, etc…) in order to be ready for Sunday.
At 8:42pm I walked over to the Hugo House which was hosting a Twin Peaks Party including the launch of APRIL Writer-in-Residence Shya Scanlon’s new book, The Guild of St. Cooper and featured readings from Matthew Simmons and Mary Miller, and music from David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.”
As I walked up to the steps of the Hugo House, I was greeted warmly by Richard Chiem (who I not only consider a friend, but also a great overall person). We made our way inside and he proceeded to introduce me to many people.
He informed me that Matthew Simmons and Mary Miller had already read, but the band and Shya were going to be on soon. Things were at an intermission. An announcement was made by someone talking loudly that we were all to head into another room because the reading and band were about to start.
I found a seat in the next room where the stuff was going to happen. It was a large room, with theater style seating that could probably sit at least 60+ people. It was packed with people sitting on the steps as well. The lighting was a sort of reddish-purplish hue that made the atmosphere seem domed by a silver medallion (whatever that means). The band consisted of a singer and a dude playing drum machine/synthesizer and along with the lighting it was mesmerizing.
Then Shya Scanlon read and he was very good.
Woke up Sunday morning and headed back over to the Hugo House since that was where the book fair was going to be at.
Found my table and set up the Scrambler Books display (see hazy photo below)
The book fair was the best book fair that I have been to hands down. It was about 40 presses (so not too large, not too small) and it was well attended. It was constantly busy with people. I felt like I never had a break of more than a few minutes throughout the 6 hours of selling. Seattle really has a great thing going with not only APRIL but also with the book culture there. The people that I met and interacted with were all very interested in small press literature and culture and were very engaged. And I was able to sell books.
I think the main reason I like APRIL was because it was all about small press community. At no time did I feel like I (Scrambler Books) was competing with the other presses that were at the festival. It felt very much like we were all there together representing the small press community, instead of trying to outsell each other. That was not only refreshing but how it should be.
I was able to meet many new people such as Stacey from Poor Claudia, Hajara from Octopus, Nicelle and Maggie from Red Hen and Los Angeles Review, as well as other editors/representatives from Ravena Press and Fuzzy Hedgehog Press and booksellers from Open Books in Seattle and Mountain Fold Books in Colorado Springs. I was also able to see again and catch up with Mike Young of Magic Helicopter and Richard and Frances.
If you have any interest in small press happenings and you find yourself anywhere in the Pacific Northwest or surrounding areas next March, there would be no better place to be than at APRIL in 2016. I will definitely be back for their 5 year anniversary next year.
Thank you very much to the APRIL crew (Frances, Kenny, Tara and Willie) for the hospitality.
Thanks to Richard for introducing me to everyone and making me feel very welcome in Seattle (and for talking a little NBA with me).
Thanks to Nicelle and Maggie of Red Hen/Los Angeles Review for being the best neighbor table one could ask for (providing inflatables, iced tea and a ride to the airport).
Thanks to all the people that came up to the table and were interested in Scrambler and in small press writing. APRIL is the model for how these types of things should be done.