Sunday, October 18, 2009

The following item came Molly's way via the A-Infos website. What I found noteworthy about this event, the Biel/Bienne Anarchist Bookfair, is their website which contains a capsule history of the growth of the anarchist bookfair concept. I don't know if is true to reality, but I append it anyways at the end of the article. For now, the announcement...
Call for the next anarchist bookfair in Switzerland:
Dear activists,
---- Taking place last year in Winterthur and this year in Biel/Bienne, the second anarchist book convention will be held in May 2010. The city being situated on the linguistic border, we, therefore, have more possibilities offered to us when it comes to the organization of this event. More than changing city, the idea is to widen the concept.
---- We are planning, aside from the presentation of dozens of publishers, libraries, distributors and organisations, multiple cultural and political activities in different wonderful places of this small town, located in between the verdant Jura and the glistening lake. What hatched in Winterthur can now grow in Biel/Bienne; a multilingual convention aiming to be a meeting point for anarchists from all over central Europe, and who knows, further.
In addition, Biel/Bienne, located on the grounds of the Fédération Jurassienne, is a town where the libertarian tradition lives on and perpetuates. In spite of its population of over 50,000, there are squats, an autonomous youth center with 40 years of history, « le Chat Noir », one of the only anarchist infokiosks in Switzerland, a self-managed popular kitchen serving hot meals multiple times a day as well as an autonomous printing house in Biel/Bienne. Due to its privileged geographic situation, it is also often a meeting point for anarchists from the whole country.
To guarantee that this edition will be at least as successful as the « Winti » edition where a good 300 visitors came, we are, of course, counting on you, dear activists and exhibitors. In return for your modest contribution to the organization costs, you will not only have the possibility to attend the book convention, the cultural activities as well as meeting different people from here and abroad,you will also have the occasion to present your book house, your library, your newspaper or your organization to a wide public.
The convention will take place on Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th of May 2010 at the CAJ/AJZ (Autonomous Youth Center), also known as the Coupole/Kessel. We offer accommodation, as well as press tables.You can register directly by visiting our website ( you will also soon find more detailed information concerning the program, the location and the convention in general.
We are grateful for your future participation in this event!
From one book lover to another, the best greetings!
2010 Biel/Bienne Anarchist Book Convention Organization Committee
And here's what I was speaking about above, a capsule history of the modern concept of the anarchist bookfair.

What is a libertarian book convention?:
During the early 1980’s, under the impression of a so-called socialist, yet tedious and expensive book convention that was frequented by many major publishing houses, a desire to realise such an event of their own emerged among a few Londoner anarchists. The attributes –anarchist or – libertarian in the rapidly established bookfair referred on one hand to the publishing programmes offered and on the other hand to a certain notion of how the event should look like. The aim was not only to sell as many books as possible and to awaken peoples interest in anarchism, but to create a platform for activists and a variety of further cultural events. specifically anarchistic conceptions that emphasise on individual freedom should furthermore be lived at the book convention: racism, sexism, homophobia etc. were banned from the event. A great value, however, was set on the do-it-yourself-attitude of the visitors and providers, as well as on solidarity and on structures for grassroots democratic decision-making.
The first anarchist bookfair was not exactly a big success: merely half a dozen offerers attended the event, and since there weren’t scarcely any visitors, the attendees turned the bookfair into a pool-tournament. ( I wonder who won-Molly )But the enthusiasm did not abandon them, the event became more and more prominent year after year, attracted more libertarian publishing houses and visitors and continually increased in size and variety. The book convention became so popular over the years, that it will be taking place for the 28th time this year. The hosts reckon thus free from humility, that it is the largest and most important regularly realised anarchistic event in the world. The numbers are indeed quite impressive. 100 bookstands, 40 programmes and around 3000 visitors on each convention day.
But the times in which the "Anarchist-Bookfair" was the single event of its kind are long forgotten, so that its organisers have started to emphasise on the appendix "of London". In Great Britain alone, numerous anarchistic bookfairs have been launched in recent years. In Canada and the USA, one is spoilt for choice as a literary intrigued anarchist – between springtime and autumn there is barely a weekend on which no anarchistic book convention is taking place. In Latin America too, where anarchistic bookshops and libraries have a long tradition, there have been several attempts in recent years, like for example in Monterrey (Mexico) and Sao Paulo (Brasil).
Eventually there has been a move in this direction on the European Continent too: Since 2003 the "Balkan Anarchist Bookfair" takes place every two years (2003 in Ljubljana (Slowenia), 2005 in Zagreb (Croatia), 2008 in Sofia (Bulgaria); Likewise in Eastern Europe the "Anarchistic ki sajam knijia" in Zagreb and an anarchistic book convention in Poznan (Poland) take place yearly. In Western Europe our Spanish associates, who regularly organise "ferias del libro anarquista" in different cities (Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Valencia), stand out most notably. But also in Paris, Gent, Florence, Lisbon and Dublin, correlative events have taken place. The concepts have hardly changed over the years, although the programmes have broadened massively. Many events are bookfairs, cabarets, course of lectures, culture days, movie cycles and meeting points in one.
You know, I still wonder who won that goddamn pool tournament-Molly.

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