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Buffalo Small Press Book Fair opens Friday

In the six years since its founding in 2007, the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair has evolved from a modest, locally oriented show for Western New York-based book arts enthusiasts to a major regional showcase with a vast array of participants. Indie booksellers, authors, printers and bookmakers, zinesters, small press operators, visual artists, poets and other cultural workers will gather to share ideas, exhibit and discuss their art, and market their works. Last year, the show featured 115 vendors and attracted more than 3,000 attendees.

This year the largest show of its kind in the Great Lakes region, and possibly the most vigorous in its adherence to an independent, do-it-yourself ethos, it has expanded from a one-day event to a two-day show taking place Saturday and Sunday in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum.

“Moving to a two-day event permits us to expand by attracting some out-of-town vendors who can only make it one day or the other, as well as others who prefer a two-day show to justify their costs in coming here from some distance away,” said Chris Fritton, book fair founder and organizer. “This year we’ve expanded the show from 115 to over 150 vendors, but still filled all the available space by early in February.”

With some small presses in the show coming from as far away as Chicago, Wisconsin, the mid-Atlantic states and from across Canada, Fritton makes a strong case that the fair has a national impact on the alternative and indie publishing scene. In stark contrast to last month’s Associated Writing Programs’ Bookfair in Boston, which reflected the influence of the institutionally based creative writing teaching industry on the independent publishing scene, the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, Fritton said, champions “the legacy of the blue-collar aesthetic, the tradition of making books and other things by hand. We strive to be inclusive of writers, small presses and book artists who have no connection to cultural authority, who simply love books in and of themselves.”

One measure of the fair’s success as a regional drawing card is the number of related readings and workshops that have evolved in conjunction with it. This year is no exception. Here’s a listing:

• 8 tonight, Starcherone Books Book Fair Pre-Party in the Western New York Book Arts Center (468 Washington St.). It features readings by the two most recent winners of the Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction: Jonathan Callahan debuting his collection, “The Consummation of Dirk” (2012) and Sarah Falkner reading from her first novel, “Animal Sanctuary” (2011).

• 8 p.m. Friday, the Just Buffalo Literary Center presents “All Poetry is Small Press Poetry” in the Western New York Book Arts Center. The reading features poet-publishers Matthew Klane, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, and Chris McCreary and Jenn McCreary.

• 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, brief readings with exhibitors, authors and other visitors running in 5- to 10-minute segments in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. For a list of readers and times, visit

• 7 p.m. Saturday, “7 at 7 at 7,” a Buffalo Small Press Book Fair Afterparty at Sweetness 7 Cafe (220 Grant St.). With poets David Hadbawnik, Robin Brox, Shanna Compton, Michael Sikkema, mIEKAL aND, Chris Fritton and Jen Tynes.

• 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, free workshops in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum.


What: Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Porter Hall, 453 Porter Ave.

Tickets: Free