Harlem Book Fair 2017 Wrap Up

Author Keith Nweze (a.k.a. Raw Thoughtz) with his books at Harlem Book Fair 2017

The Harlem Book Fair is a yearly event that convenes readers, authors, and book industry people. While this event was unfortunately overall disappointing, I did manage to have a productive day. 
This year, I saw a few new faces. Authors like Danielle Marcus and Sakinah Ibrahim. Walking around, I ran into familiar authors also, such as Felicia Capers and Mahogany Starr

It took all of fifteen minutes to get through the vendors, as there was only one block this year. I came through and said my hellos to folks. 
I participated in a panel called “Prose and Poetry” at Calabar Imports on 134th and 8th Avenue. This wasn’t too far away from the fair. Thanks to everyone who came out. 

Now, I am about to talk about a difficult part of the event. As someone who attends this event every year, I take no joy in expressing this thought: the Harlem Book Fair is in serious decline. 

This year’s fair was sparsely attended, had no panels going on, and was held entirely on one block. 135th between Lenox and Seventh. Even on the one block, there were a lot of empty spaces. It’s was not a draw, and I heard that many people went to the Go Africa Festival on 116th instead. At the moment, I am seriously concerned about the future of the Harlem Book Fair as both a reader and a local author. I want to see this event prosper, and turn around if at all possible. The last thorough book fair in Harlem was it’s 2015 event. 

Is there a way to turn this around, or is it too far gone? Has gentrification taken it’s toll on the Black  literary scene in Harlem, or is this just an isolated off year? 


  1. I don’t think gentrification is the reason why Harlem Book Fair (HBF) is falling off

    The event is under-promoted

    Simple as that

    Not a lot of people knew about HBF to even care about going

    Everybody I know from Harlem didn’t even know HBF existed…random strangers I promote my books to always confuse HBF with Harlem Week when I ask if they were going to HBF…LOL…smh

    The organizers need to start promoting the fair more efficiently and make the event independent/self-publish author friendly

    The vendor prices are bananas

    They should also consider booking notable musical acts to give the fair a shot in the arm

    A lot of authors are starting to flock to the Brooklyn Book Fair instead of HBF…I haven’t been to HBF since 2015…and from the looks of things, I’ll rather chill with the fellas at South Beach that weekend for the Miami Takeover than hit up 135th street just to see more authors and their entourages than readers who are pretty much @ HBF to window shop instead of buying books

    By the way, I always look forward to your yearly HBF Recaps

    Keep up the great work

    Peace and Afro Grease

  2. Thanks for your comment, Nah-sun. The HBF has a lot of turning around to do. You’re so right about the vendors fees- they are astronomical.

  3. Nah’Sun you are right gentrification has nothing to do with the Harlem Book Fair’s decline. But it has nothing to do with promotion either. The Fair was first held in 1999. I wrote about my first experience there in 2000: https://aalbc.com/events/harlem5.htm (pardon the page the site is being upgraded). If the fair did not improve at all it would have been the premier even of its kind in the country.

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