When people think of books, the first thing that may pop into their head is mass-produced paperbacks, Barnes and Noble bookstores or even cozy independent bookstores. But there is another side to book culture that has garnered a lot of attention in Chicago — independent arts publishing.
No Coast — a Chicago-based arts publisher — will be holding its third annual Chicago Arts Book Fair at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel (12 S. Michigan Ave.) Nov. 15-17. The fair will consist of more than 125 publishers, artists, zine-makers and printers that will not only sell their work, but hold panels and workshops, according to the event website.
“We hope people will become enthusiastic about small press publishing,” said Alexander Valentine, co-founder of No Coast. “We’re enthusiastic about participating and propagating print culture as something that’s still vital and vibrant and brings a lot of people together.”
The event is expected to bring together more than 6,000 attendees, according to Valentine. Most of the people in attendance will be from the Chicago area, but many of the vendors come from all over the United States and worldwide. About 25 percent of the participants are international — one vendor is coming from Siberia to sell their work, according to Valentine.
“It’s important to have markets like this because a lot of these publications are not online for purchase and are not widely distributed,” Valentine said. The fair hopes to emphasize the importance of independent books and will be home to hundreds of abstract works that people won’t be able to get their hands on anywhere else.
Before the formation of the first Chicago Art Book Fair back in 2017, No Coast participated in many book fairs internationally. After realizing that Chicago has a recognizable print-making and independent publishing culture, Valentine said the publisher decided to create its own fair with the goal or bringing people to downtown Chicago and enjoying art books.
Art enthusiasts and book lovers can take the opportunity to experience many independent publishers gathered in one place.