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Digital Bookfair – A Proposal

Dear Comrades, 

At the start of May we made the decision to postpone the anarchist bookfair in London this year (promoted as “Bookfair 2020: Anarchist Bookfair in London”) until October next year (2021) due to the coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of the statuses of lockdown or the physical distancing policy, it did not seem fitting to raise funds nor hold a mass gathering so soon after such a difficult time in which so many people have suffered. 

We do however feel that we would be remiss in not providing an alternative forum for the sharing of anarchist thinking, theory and organising, which under the circumstances we believe can be best provided for by holding a digital event, something we would greatly appreciate your thoughts on. 

We are proposing to organise and facilitate an event over the weekend of October the 17th/18th in which we would host a calendar of events including pre-recorded talks, live workshops and an array of anarchist media. In a digital age, a digital bookfair of sorts was always going to eventually be part and parcel of such events, however in the absence of a physical bookfair we should aim to make a digital one as grand as possible.  Comrade in Montreal recently held such an event and Stockholm Anarchist Bookfair will be holding one on this Saturday. There is also the AntiUni Festival 6-13 June which involves several events in virtual space within it’s programme.

Our digital Bookfair would be based around a custom-built website which would feature an illustration of the bookfair’s layout, akin to how it would have appeared physically. Each stall in this illustration would be a link which would take you to a page providing information on your organisations/campaigns, resources, links to store fronts, downloads and other digital events we would love you to arrange concurrently. 

Alongside this we would host two days of international discussion and education via: 

– Workshops and organiser meetings
These would be via a professional video and audio service which we would provide and could range from large-scale Q&A sessions to more intimate skill-sharing events, streaming events or closed organiser meetings. 

– Talks
We would like to set up three temporary studios in two or three cities across the UK and organise 2/3 days (across July/August) when comrades can come and record a talk, skill-share, reading, etc. We would also provide knowledge and support in making such content at home to host during the bookfair. 

– Chatrooms
These could be used for Q&A’s, talking about your network, looking for advice, knowledge or support. We would provide a text/audio place to meet and greet with comrades, not just in the UK but around the world. 

We would not charge any entry fees nor have digital events such as the workshops behind a paywall (though there may be limited tickets) and we would not charge digital stall holders any fee to partake. We’re happy to take on the vast majority of the legwork to make this happen and the level of your involvement in your specific section of the bookfair would determined by your network. At the very least we aim to give every stall holder a bespoke space that provides an introduction to visitors, hosts resources and if appropriate provides downloads or even a space to chat live. 

We’re interested in your thoughts and ideas! Does this sound like something you’d like to take part in? If we’re missing a trick, or you’ve an event you’d like to run, let us know! Perhaps you’d be keep to use the platform top hold a benefit gig, DnD sessions or live share news and media from the front lines. We’re very keen to hear your thoughts and gauge interest before we make the final call at our meeting at the end of June. 

So please get in touch with us, either via email or our social media pages, even if it’s just to say hello. This will help us to see if people are interested in supporting such an event, helping to set it up or are just keen to take part as attendees. As mentioned, we’ll be holding our next meeting towards the end of June and will be making the final call then, so please talk with your networks and see if you’d like to get involved, host a digital stall or perhaps even contribute a talk or workshop.

Please share your ideas with us and tell us what we can do to make this work for you. 

The Bookfair Crew.