Anarchism and books

An anarchist bookfair is an exhibition for anti-authoritarian literature often combined with anarchist social and cultural events. They have existed since at least 1983, beginning in London, and are held either annually or sporadically. Some have speakers or other events related to anarchist culture.


Anarchist books
Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, 2008

Anarchist bookfairs have existed since at least 1983.[1] They are community-organized, held either annually or sporadically, and usually last between a day and a weekend.[2][1] At these fairs, anarchist publishers sell literature from booths to an internal audience of other anarchists and anarchist publishers.[1] They are also social events, as the distribution of publication brings those sympathetic to anarchism together to exchange ideas and organize according to their shared interest.[2] Bookfairs are not intended to replace external political activism or fight capitalism, but serve as a space for anarchist activists to build networks and experience social togetherness.[3]

Selected fairs

Anarchist book fair in the Balkans

London has hosted annual anarchist bookfairs since 1983, first in Conway Hall and later in Park View School. Other British locales including Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, and Manchester have hosted anarchist book fairs.[1]

The annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair began in 1995.[4] Held in Golden Gate Park and organized by Bound Together, the fair includes West Coast alternative publishers and organizations such as Food Not Bombs. Speakers have included Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Carol Queen,[5] artist Eric Drooker, activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,[4] and publisher Bruce Anderson.[6] The 2005 event had 75 vendors including AK Press, who had the largest booth.[4] Los Angeles also hosts an anarchist bookfair.[2]

Elsewhere in the United States, the annual New York Anarchist Book Fair has run since the mid-2000s in Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square Park. It has included workshops on topics such as food sovereignty and medicinal plants.[7] The Boston anarchist bookfair influenced the Scranton Radical Book Fair in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which ran at least three years and included a Really Really Free Market.[8][9]

The Montreal Anarchist Book Fair (French: Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal) has occurred annually since at least 2009. It attracts anti-capitalists and activists including anarchoprimitivists, Marxists, queer groups, and skinheads.[10] An article in Lien social et Politiques called the Montreal Anarchist Book Fair and Festival of Anarchy together the largest annual gathering of its kind in North America.[11] The fair inspired Expozine, a small press, zine, and comics fair in Montreal, which began in 2002.[12] Victoria, British Columbia, also hosts an anarchist bookfair.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d Rooum, Donald (2016). What is Anarchism?: An Introduction. PM Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-1-62963-263-6.
  2. ^ a b c Bales, Stephen (2018). "Praxis: Theory in Practice". Social Justice and Library Work: A Guide to Theory and Practice. Elsevier. p. 148. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-101755-5.00004-4. ISBN 978-0-08-101758-6.
  3. ^ Portwood-Stacer, Laura (2013). Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-1-4411-5743-0.
  4. ^ a b c Marech, Rona (March 27, 2005). "SAN FRANCISCO / Authority a four-letter word at this book fair / Anarchists find common ground at S.F. get-together". SFGate. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Engelson, Andrew (March 16, 1998). "Another growth spurt for book festivals". Publishers Weekly. 245 (11): 24. ISSN 0000-0019. EBSCOhost 359923.
  6. ^ McMahon, Regan (March 12, 2009). "Bruce Anderson: Anarchist Bookfair". SFGate. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  7. ^ Kessler, Carson (September 25, 2020). "New York City anarchists too busy readying for book fair to make trouble". amNewYork. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  8. ^ Lockwood, Jim (April 10, 2016). "Marywood University hosts Radical Book Fair". The Scranton Times-Tribune. EBSCOhost 2W6803553299.
  9. ^ Axton, Gene (April 7, 2016). "Radical Book Fair at Marywood University set for April 9 aims to open minds, not wallets". Times Leader. EBSCOhost 2.
  10. ^ Toffoli, Camille (2017). "La littérature au temps des assemblées générales". Liberté (in French) (314): 26–28. ISSN 0024-2020.
  11. ^ Sarrasin, Rachel; Kruzynski, Anna; Jeppesen, Sandra; Breton, Émilie (2012). "Radicaliser l'action collective : portrait de l'option libertaire au Québec". Lien Social et Politiques (in French) (68): 141–166. doi:10.7202/1014809ar. ISSN 1204-3206.
  12. ^ de l'Église, Justine (November 15, 2019). "Expozine, un salon du livre parallèle qui regorge de trésors littéraires". (in Canadian French). Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  13. ^ Kozolanka, Kirsten; Mazepa, Patricia; Skinner, David (2012). Alternative Media in Canada. UBC Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-7748-2167-4.

Further reading

Media related to Anarchist book fairs at Wikimedia Commons