Indie Bound: Brooklyn Book Festival Recap

—Sara Johnson

In honor of University Press Week, below is collaborative effort by five New York/New Jersey Presses at this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival. As there are many upcoming book festivals across the US, I thought this may offer similar opportunities for creative collaboration in your community!

img_5728Who: Fordham University Press, Columbia University Press, Rutgers University Press, SUNY Press, NYU Press

What: A entry form/scavenger hunt for free books,  as well as an indie bookstore map of NYC handout and flyer.

When: September 18, 2016

Where: Brooklyn Book Festival, Borough Hall, Brooklyn New York

Why: Community!

This project began as idea on how the UPs exhibiting at the BKBF could come together to foster a sense of this years UP Week theme: Community. The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, attracting thousands of book lovers to Borough Hall for the chance to listen to national and international literary stars, meet emerging authors, and visit with a diverse selection of local presses, publishers and bookstores. We (the five presses) decided to shift our focus towards these indie bookstores, showcasing them through a map and interactive giveaway. After much collaborative planning and brainstorming, we created a contest involving participants to visit each UP booth, grab a stamp or sticker, and hand in the completed form with their own independent bookstore recommendation. Although the map we handed out to compliment the contest featured 34 independent bookstores across Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, we really wanted to hear from the local community on where they loved to get lost in the the stacks.  img_5712-1

Eventually, five winners were chosen and received a book from each press and a giftcard to the Upper West Side indie staple, Bookculture. Having participants visit each booth allowed them to see what University Presses really do, and what kind of books we publish. Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, many of our featured publications already revolve around community. Fordham showcased their latest title about the Brooklyn Bridge Park and it’s amazing transformation and Rutgers had a great guide to Brooklyn called The Brooklyn Experience about the food, culture and neighborhoods of the landmark borough the festival took place in. Columbia had a beautifully designed book called The Greatest Grid that (literally) laid out Manhattan. SUNY Press brought the Beer of Broadway Fame about the Piel family and their Brooklyn brewery and NYU Press sold out of both our history of the curious Gowanus Canal as well as our Pastrami on Rye on the history of the Jewish Deli in NYC. Together all of these titles really showcase the many vibrant and unique highlights, locations and history of the biggest small-town in America: New York City. Brooklyn being the setting of the festival and Brooklynites being the majority of the participants really added to this in an invaluable way, as we got to learn about unique and local bookstores on streets and corners we hadn’t yet come across.

Personally, this project gave me a sense of community because I got to work with, and get to know, the amazing people running the other Presses of the NY metro area. Meeting at AAUP once a year just isn’t enough to collaborate and learn from all of my brilliant colleagues. I cannot thank the staff of these five presses enough for working with me and making this idea into a fun #ReadUP reality. You can download these materials, and get more ideas in the UP Week Toolkit. Some of my favorite participant recommendations are below. Happy reading!

Favorite Bookstores:

From Fred of Manhattan,The Strand!! I can get completely lost for hours browsing!”
From Greg of Brooklyn,Rizzoli Bookstore. They sell Italian books and music which shows the diverse culture of NYC.”
From Caitlin of Queens,BookCulture — Best academic bookstore in the city. It is my favorite, and I am not just saying that because I work there!”
From Ellen of Manhattan, “I love The Strand — what’s not to love in those miles of books!”
From Kaylee of Brooklyn,Bluestockings!! Because the only thing I love more than Books is Feminism!”



Follow along on the UP Week Blog Tour with other great Indie Bound posts from University of Texas PressUniversity of Calgary PressCornell University PressUniversity Press of ColoradoSeminary Co-op BookstoresMcGill-Queen’s University PressDuke University PressUniversity Press of Kentucky, and University Press of Kansas. See this week’s full blog tour list here, and check out the UP Week Community Gallery!

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