Harlem Book Fair 2011: Afterthoughts

Good evening peoples! I hope you’re cozy up under some nice cool AC right now. It’s been a scorcher today!  So, I braved the heat today to attend the Harlem Book Fair. Luckily, most of the events were inside, (I ain’t crazy) and I was able to listen to a good amount of folks about the direction of Black literature. Yes, I go every year, but there is always something new to learn, and other people to come in contact with. A quick shout out to some members of the Hue-man Book Club that I met up with, and to other folks I bumped into briefly, but didn’t have sufficient time to speak to. I am sure we will catch up with one another eventually.

I attended some good  panels today. I could talk about all three, but my favorite was about the E-book and its increasing weight in the publishing world. The panelist, which included knowledgeable industry folks like Troy Johnson and Kelli Martin, advised attendees to consider the changing terrain of the publishing industry and adapt to it.  It is now a great time to be an African American author/publisher, and with social media being what it is, you wont need as many rubber stamps as you once did decades ago. There was talk of self-published e-books, tablets, book trailers, and webinars. All interesting new things that you can do with the technical know-how available today. Even though the HBF is a vehicle to sell books, I also feel there is a trade show element to it. And those in the know come and share their expertise with those of us who want to get their feet in the door.

I know for certain that I plan in keeping in contact with the folks I met. You can’t put a price on knowledge. It was great to see so many younger people out and about at this event, wanting to learn more about the processes involved in distribution. Good to see that live and in person.

However, I have to say that I do have a concern. As some of you may or may not know, Borders closed is doors this week. This is in my opinion the beginning of the end of brick and mortar book stores. But, what does that mean for the African-American centered bookstore? That’s such a wide question, and I will leave it to you all to discuss. I don’t have an answer for that one.

There is much more I can say, but I will stop there. I am just glad I had the time I did. I had to drop this when it was fresh on the brain, but I don’t want to ramble. For those of you that attended, what was the best part of the #HBF2011? I wasn’t trying to go up in that courtyard, so I missed the authors and poetic readings. Ha. Alright then, take care. Till next time! Peace!




  1. The Harlem Book Fair this year was wack…it was too hot…and the majority of authors vending were Street/Urban Fiction writers.

    We need a variety…point blank.

    Not to mention there weren’t alot of people…the number of outdoor attendees are dwindling by the year.

    I’m not an author, but it’s sad to see a lot of people window shopping instead of buying books.

  2. We do need more variety. I definitely agree. The Harlem Book fair has been dominated by street lit for years. Unfortunately it reflects what many people support with their dollars.

  3. That’s why new Black fiction authors, for the most part, are penning urban/street fiction novels because it’s the easiest thing to do…even contemporary authors are writing edgier stories with pen names to stay relevant.

    Authors won’t think outside the box UNTIL readers support novels other than street lit…you DO have your exceptions, but the lack of variety is still the rule.

    Supply and Demand is the name of the game.

  4. It is a vicious cycle. If people keep demanding the same stuff, then its either provide them with that or be deemed “irrelevant”

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