The summer bookfair season is in full swing, and we had the privilege of attending two great events over the past two weekends – The Midwest Small Press Fest in Milwaukee and the Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago. Even though both are technically the same thing – authors, publishers and programs exhibiting at tables – they both have distinctly different feels.
The Small Press Fest is very intimate and low-key, it does take place in a Bowling Alley, after all. But it takes place in a great neighborhood in Milwaukee, one that focuses on the arts and features lots of co-ops, from food to literature to anything you might want. It’s super local and you get over twenty small presses to peruse at your leisure. It’s not crowded, they’ve got a tasty vegan caterer and events lined up all weekend. I saw lots of folks grabbing a chair and sitting down with the folks behind the tables – it honestly feels more like a gathering of friends than a bookfair.
We also hosted a reading at one of those co-ops I mentioned before – People’s Books. We had a nice little turnout and reading with some of our favorite past contributors like Paul Scot August, Lee Krecklow and Robert Vaughan. The sudden downpour and shifting weather seemed like a perfect background for fiction and poetry inspired by the Midwest.
Printer’s Row Lit Fest is almost the exact opposite of the Small Press Fest. Big, boisterous and outside in Chicago’s Printer’s Row neighborhood – this bookfair takes up entire city blocks. The fest boasts over a hundred thousand people wandering around – and last weekend was perfect weather, so readers were out in force. Even though it’s bustling, it still feels very organic – plenty of folks bring their kids and dogs, and many people just enjoy wandering around piles and piles of books. There’s something for everyone here – and we were part of the Small Press Tent, organized by McSweeney’s. There were a total of 10 small presses exhibiting there, and I saw lots of people making a pit stop at every one – it was definitely the tent to be at to check out something new.
Thanks again to everyone who stopped by our table at both events. We had a blast, and hope you did too!