A SOLID SUCCESS
The Indie Book Fair 2015, held in Johannesburg on 20/21 March, has come and gone – but a great deal of value has remained.
The discussions at the Fair, both formal and informal, have laid the foundations for a new awareness of the independent revolution currently underway in publishing worldwide. More particularly, it has highlighted the opportunities available to a country like South Africa to use the technologies underpinning the rise of independent publishing to offer real alternatives to the monopolistic practises that often characterise the publishing and retail selling of books. These technologies and the networks they have spawned present a unique opportunity to encourage the development of a thriving local literature. The mood of optimism and renewed enthusiasm of many of those attending the Fair suggested that the time is ripe for a radical transformation of the local publishing and distribution terrain.
Individual authors as well as publishers and service organisations filled the exhibition stands erected at the venue. Interesting exhibiters included the National English Literary Museum from Grahamstown, the Professional Editors Group and the Academic and Non-fiction Authors Association of South Africa. Several hundred visitors attended the programme of talks and panel discussions. People came to listen – and stayed. The highlights included Dr David Harrison’s brilliant physiological explanation of why storytelling and reading is of such vital importance to the full mental development of children. Sarah Taylor, keynote speaker from Troubadour/Matador publishers in England, placed in perspective the versatility of independent publishing and other significant advantages to be got from this increasingly important ‘new wave’ in publishing trends.
African Narratives (AfNa), a not-for-profit company and IBF organisers, was officially launched during the Fair. Writers and small publishers were urged to become members and help AfNa to support the development of a thriving local literature in South Africa.
‘The tools and technologies being used to further the independent publishing revolution should be put to use to promote precisely this kind of literature,’ chairperson of the AfNa board, Gail Robbins, said.
Asked if there would be another Indie Book Fair next year, she replied without hesitation – and in the affirmative. For more news about AfNa