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Biel-Bienne: Anarchist Bookfair 2013

category italy / switzerland | culture | feature author Sunday September 15, 2013 19:44author by Anarchist Bookfair Biel/Bienneauthor email info at buechermesse dot ch Report this post to the editors

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20th - 22nd September 2013, Biel-Bienne (Switzerland)

2010 was the first time an anarchist bookfair took place in the bilingual city of Biel/Bienne. With more than 500 visitors, more than two dozen exhibitors, and lectures on the theory and practice of anarchism, the event was a great success.

Due to this experience, the decision was made to organize another bookfair on the language border in 2011. In 2012, the bookfair became larger when it took place during the International Anarchist Gathering in St. Imier and took up a large part of a hockey rink. The stands were occupied by exhibitors from well-over a dozen countries, exhibiting in eight languages. The popular bookfair will take place again this year. This time, it will be at the same place in the heart of Biel/Bienne, but it will be held later in the year from the 20th-22nd September.

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Anarchist Bookfair 2013

20th - 22nd September 2013, Biel-Bienne (Switzerland)


2010 was the first time an anarchist bookfair took place in the bilingual city of Biel/Bienne. With more than 500 visitors, more than two dozen exhibitors, and lectures on the theory and practice of anarchism, the event was a great success. Due to this experience, the decision was made to organize another bookfair on the language border in 2011. In 2012, the bookfair became larger when it took place during the International Anarchist Gathering in St. Imier and took up a large part of a hockey rink. The stands were occupied by exhibitors from well-over a dozen countries, exhibiting in eight languages. The popular bookfair will take place again this year. This time, it will be at the same place in the heart of Biel/Bienne, but it will be held later in the year from the 20th-22nd September.

Anarchist Bookfairs

30 years back there were a few anarchists in London. They attended some so-called socialist bookfairs but these events were agonizingly boring, expensive and also frequented by a lot of huge publishing companies. So the wish was born to create an own anarchist bookfair. With reference to the attributes „anarchist“ or „libertarian“, there were on the one hand the offered programs of publishers and on the other hand a special kind of opinion how the event should look like at this new “anarchist bookfair”. It was not only about selling a lot of books and to introduce people to anarchism but also to create a platform for activists and a wide range of cultural events. The specific notion of anarchism, which attaches great importance to the individual freedom, should also be lived at a book-fair. So racism, sexism, homophobia etc. had no place there. However, the do-it-yourself-attitude, the solidarity of the visitors and offerers, and the direct democratic way of making decisions was very important.

But the first “Anarchist Bookfair” drew a blank: only half a dozen offerers and a few visitors joined the event. So the few people that were there switched the bookfair into a billards tournament. But for all the disillusioning experience the enthusiasm resists – the fame of the event is growing with age. More libertarian publishers have emerged from the underground, more interested people have come to see and larger events could be realised. So the bookfair has become so famous, that it will be realized for the 30th time this year. The organisers have no need to be modest, when remarking that their event is the largest and most important regular happeningin the world for anarchists.

The figures are impressing: 100 stands, 40 events and about 3000 visitors. This each and every day. By now the “London Anarchist Bookfair” isn`t the only one of its species. This is why the organisers put an emphasis on “London”. In the course of years half a dozen bookfairs have been organized in Great Britain. If you are interested in literature you have a hard choice in Canada and the USA, because between spring and autumn there is nearly every weekend a bookfair. Also in Latin America – here anarchist bookstores and libraries have a long tradition – there have been some trails of bookfairs in the recent years, as well as in Monterrey(Mexico) and São Paulo(Brazil).

Finally we have some reactions in Europe: Since 2003 there’s the “Balkan Anarchist Bookfair” (2003 in Ljubljana, 2005 in Zagreb, 2008 in Sofia and 2009 in Thessaloniki). Since 2006 there is a yearly "Anarhistički sajam knjiga" in Zagreb(Croatia) and more anarchist bookfairs in Poznan(Poland). In Western Europe the Spanish comrades attract the attention with the "ferias del libro anarquista". There are bookfairs in Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia. In Paris, Gent, Florence, Lisbon, Dublin and Oberhausen, more bookfairs have been organised. Over the years the concept hasn`t changed much. But the programs have grown on. Today most of these events called bookfairs, are also cultural happenings, minor art-galleries, course of lectures, movie series, meeting places – all in one.

Related Link: http://buechermesse.ch/2012/index.php/en/
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