Johannesburg Book Fair On The Doorstep!

JOHANNESBURG – With a bigger and more accessible venue, the second Jozi Book Fair will be taking place from 7 – 9 August in Museum Africa in Newtown. Small and independent publishers, NGOs and community organisations from South and Southern Africa are invited to exhibit at the Jozi Book Fair 2010. Registrations open on the 1st March and closes on the 19th of June 2010.

Jozi Book Fair was established by Khanya College as a response to a decline in progressive writing and publishing in South Africa in the past 20 years. Jozi Book Fair is committed to developing a robust and sustainable culture of reading in South Africa and engages with various reading circles, libraries, readers, writers and publishers in an effort to help develop and grow literacy and a culture of reading and more importantly, writing in South Africa.

The culture of reading in South Africa is in crisis. Homes and schools are mostly deserts of reading matter. Public libraries are thin on the ground and poorly supported. Books and paper are expensive and beyond the reach of the majority of South Africans. Few communities have

bookshops. Few teachers understand their roles as instructors, practitioners and promoters of reading. Even South Africans with advantaged backgrounds tend to aliteracy (they can read, but don’t). Social contexts are often hostile to reading.

It is within this social context that small publishers and writers must struggle to operate, forcing them to not only be producers of books, but also to take on the role of literacy developers and activists in South Africa if they wish to have any kind of market for their publications.

On the 8th of August 2009 Jozi Book Fair debuted at Museum Africa in Newtown. With over 45 publishers exhibiting and 63 authors and speakers taking part in various roundtable discussions and events, the Fair set itself up as a vital and necessary intervention for small and alternative publishers in South Africa.

Commercial publishers can’t always justify the publication of books that would probably only have limited markets, especially in a country like South Africa where the book buying market is very small. A project such as the Jozi Book Fair makes possible the promotion of more marginal works, as well as the strategic networking between writers and publishers and distributors.

Jozi Book Fair has opened up entry points into publishing, and has created new opportunities for new and marginal voices. Even writers and small publishers who have not worked through the Book Fair, have been encouraged by it through various events and seminars that have been hosted by the Jozi Book Fair team since August.

Khanya College organiser of th book fair is an independent nongovernmental organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Established in 1986, the primary aim of College is to assist various constituencies within working class and poor communities to respond to the challenges posed by the forces of economic and political organisation. Khanya College offers assistance through providing educational and training workshops, publications and research to organisations and individuals in these communities. Khanya College contributes to these challenges by emphasising solutions based on social solidarity, popular democracy and participation, organisation and mobilisation.