- not by the book -
info + stalls
Glasgow’s Radical Independent Bookfair project (RIB) has been running stalls, co-ordinating and collaborating on events since 2006 when it premiered at Document (the annual International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival). It began as a joint idea between Variant magazine, angry artworks and AK Press & Distribution, however its roots go back to counter cultural events organised by the Free University Network and the Scottish Bookfair of Radical Black & Third World Books as well as the support and campaigning groups Artists in Solidarity and Workers City all from the early 1990’s.
The RIB has acted as a support structure for a number of individuals and groups who produce publications, information and materials for sale, view and free distribution. With the ideas of mutual aid and solidarity at its forefront this long term project played an important part in helping to fill the gap left by the lack of alternative bookshops in Glasgow. As well as stocking various books, pamphlets and other printed matter for sale from various publishers in an eclectic mix; the project stalls always contained a multitude of free items and occasionally a mini library of documentaries and news-sheets, as well as a book swap box. The scale of the RiB varied depended on the event it was hosting or supporting - from a popup box in a pub, to a table at a talk, to a number of trestles in a small hall. The project was self-financed by the participants and the good will of its friends, no corporate or public funding was involved and no one took a wage. It was never party politically aligned and was autonomous from other organisations. The project was more than just an occasional bookshop and travelling bookstall - it was also a temporary library and a meeting point for discussion, distribution and ideas.
Some folk whom i have talked to over the years have been disappointed when they read ‘bookfair’ but see so few stalls at some of the events - but i have always countered that with “but this is a different type of ‘bookfair’ - its not an annual one-off jamboree, but something that travels all around the city popping up at different types of event with different materials, supporting different people & groups”. Over the years the RIB has worked with many organisations and set up stalls in multiple venues all across the city from Kinning Park Complex, Pearce Institute, STUC, GFT, CCA, Nice N Sleazy, Scotia bar, Glad Cafe, Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities, Toryglen Community Base, Drumchapel Community centre and Platform in Easterhouse to name just a few. Though occasionally invited out of Glasgow (including Inverness, Faslane peace camp, Edinburgh and London!) i only took up the challenge once - with a trip to a conference in Dumfries. Though for many others the backbone of a ‘bookfair’ is really not a (book selling) stall event at all. As Jim Kelman wrote over 23 years ago when we co-ordinated the first Scottish Bookfair of Radical Black & Third World Books “...it is more than a platform for debate and exchange of ideas, it is also a celebration of art, literature and creativity, of performance and participation...” For me it is also about creating a temporary safe place devoid of hierarchy where folk can meet and materials usually unavailable can be interacted with within a setting where alternative voices to the stifling, biased and inaccurate mainstream media can be read, heard, seen and debated with. That's what a ‘radical’ bookfair really is.
So as this ten year long bookfair project winds down this final event has lots on offer - from readings and artist talks to premiere screenings and lively discussions. There are plenty of materials to browse, buy and take away, films to watch in the videotheque, other visuals to stimulate the retina and brain and of course a place to meet folk and have a blether. RIB - RIP! Is this the end of the project? Well yes and no. Certainly it has done what it set out to do and helped fill the void of availability of radical reading materials in the city. There are now some stable bookshops distributing similar printed matter - Aye-Aye Books in the CCA and Calton Books in the east end... and of course there is still Word Power Books in Edinburgh and AK Distribution continue to maintain a massive collection of anarchist materials available online. Glasgow Autonomous Space, Spirit of Revolt archive and many other organisations have the bookfair ‘ethos’ at heart and they will continue to offer a place for ‘radical’ and alternative voices to be fostered. Of course i will likely still distribute materials in some form and help organise events, of that i’m sure (its in the blood)!
...in solidarity and support - Euan Sutherland
As well as the big foldout black box bookstall with an eclectic (just for a change!) mix of materials for sale and taking away, there will also be a number of mobile stalls in the space with specific materials including...
A whole host of incomplete back issues for you to take away, read, digest and pass onto anyone unfamiliar with this very important magazine. Sorely missed but not forgotten.
Sit, select and watch a radical film on a small monitor. Taken from the collection of films from our reference library - cutting edge independent films that are an important antidote to the biased mainstream media. Be inspired, be angered, but most importantly - be made aware.
Bring in a book and exchange it for another one - a book that has affected you and may motivate someone else. At the end of the event these will all be given over to start a small library at the new Glasgow Autonomous Space.
Yup even more free materials for you to add to and take away...
Bring your own activist memorabilia of Faslane to the SOR table for us to build a comprehensive inter-generational outreach archive as part of our Faslane Peace Camp Collection. Over 34 years of direct action in and around the base, hundreds of actions have generated newspaper clippings, posters, photos, letters, badges, NVDA strategies and so on. Spread the word that SOR are now starting this important collection.
A selection of the newest titles (straight off the pallet) from the Edinburgh warehouse direct to your discerning eyes.
The main (still in print) body (pun intended) of t-shirts from this occasional subvertiser as well as a bunch of free stickers and cards.
Each event organisation will have the guest stall avalaible to punt merchandise, sell dvd’s, promote good causes, or whatever...