Ten Good Things About The Brooklyn Book Festival

The Brooklyn Book Festival was simply wonderful — well organized, low key, lots of small indie publishers and lots of readers of original works that challenge the big five publishers whose offerings often seem to be media managed and more about selling than compelling.

At Garn Press what we enjoyed the most was meeting readers — many of them parents or teachers – who were looking for books that touched their hearts and minds and provide authentic information on the most critical issues of our time. Many of the conversations we had were with children who spent a little time with us coloring drawings by Rachel Backshall’s based on her beautiful illustrations of Toodle-oo Ruby Blue

It was exhilarating when people said to us: “This is Brooklyn!” or “You’re in Brooklyn!” and “It’s a great place for people and books. We read a lot here.” It was just brilliant, “brill” as Brits say. Here are GP’s Ten Good Things!

  1. TERRIFIC ORGANIZATION: The Festival was well organized and the organizers were low key;
  2. THE VENUE FOR SATURDAY: The location of the Saturday Children’s Day was perfect – every book vendor had a great spot and there were ample public spaces for families to wander, look at books, and participate in activities;
  3. PUBLIC CONVERSATIONS: There were lots of opportunities to talk with parents and teachers and to learn more about their struggles and the challenges facing children doing everything they can to cope with the pressures of corporate school reform that denies them the right to be kids;
  4. STORYBOOK READING: Areas were designated for storybook reading and reading stories was a huge success – with books being read to children for the entire day;
  5. EFFICIENT TRASH COLLECTION: The organizers gently encouraged vendors to cleanup at the end of the day – every table was left the way it was found – which we did;
  6. THE VENUE FOR SUNDAY: Again a perfect place with all 250 vendors having a great spot with “foot traffic” reaching every location – helped by the strategic locations of performance stages and food vendors, and the provision of comprehensive festival guide with a clear map locating every vendor and press;
  7. DIVERSE, DYNAMIC, WITHOUT BOUNDARIES, BORDERS OR WALLS: There was a free flowing movement of diverse and dynamic people who were comfortable with each other, and who strolled with family and friends interacting with authors and publishers and enjoying the artwork of illustrators;
  8. INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS AND SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS HAD TABLES ALONGSIDE THE HEAVYWEIGHTS OF THE INDUSTRY: The dedication of the indie publishers and self-published authors was remarkable, and the difference between the BBF and the big publishing trade shows – at which there is an unabashed focus on corporate profits – contrasted with the mission driven, purposeful reaching-out to readers by the vendors at the BBF;
  9. THE REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE IN SOCIETY WHO ARE OFTEN MARGINALISED: Both the poetry and prose of the resistance to social injustice were represented – with talks on “Books as Tools of Resistance”, “The Moral Culpability in Global Crises”, “The Theater of War”, and “Spanning Place and Time: Migration and Memory”;
  10. THE COMMITMENT TO IDEAS, CELEBRATING THE UNITY OF DIFFERENCE WITHOUT THE PRESSURE OF CONFORMITY: Infused with kindness and caring, the BBF was a celebration of hearts and minds without prejudice, a public space in which everyone could be happy and proud of their personal and shared identities.

The Brooklyn Book Festival was inspirational. At Garn Press we had a really great time at the BBF and we left feeling a sense of solidarity with all the participants, and with a sense of respect and trust for the organizers of the festival. At Garn Press we are looking forward to participating in the 2018 Brooklyn Book Festival!

Photos: Brooklyn Book Festival – Children’s Day and Festival Day Gallery


At Garn Press we were so excited for the 2017 Brooklyn Book Festival. Forty thousand readers and we wanted to meet and chat with them all! Our authors were on hand to talk with everyone who came to greet us and we sold books, book-bags, t-shirts and mugs at discount prices. A great celebration! This year’s Festival ran September 11-17, 2017. The heart of the Festival was at Brooklyn Borough Hall & Plaza (9/17), and Children’s Day (9/16) took place at MetroTech Commons in downtown Brooklyn.

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