Indie Book Fair - London

A Short Note on the London Fair

We mostly try to invite like-minded indie presses to the various fairs but it’s true that often we’re meeting that publisher for the first time. As a rule, we find the process of meeting and sharing a space with invited indie presses to be a very positive experience. The indie publishers with whom we work often report that they have a good afternoon selling a few books and chatting to members of the public and all is well.

On this occasion, however we did first invite and then subsequently felt compelled to uninvite one particular publisher due to their usage of and subsequent defence of political imagery and symbolism that made us uncomfortable and which we felt had the potential to make other stallholders and members of the public uncomfortable. It should be noted that the publisher in question suggested that their use of said political imagery was merely ‘a joke’, that however, did not make us feel any less uncomfortable. It should also be noted that we had to take into account the policies of our university partners who will play host to the fair with regard to this matter.

In response, to this and the refund of their table fee (£20), we received a fairly polite email from the publisher in question saying they didn’t mind being uninvited and that they didn’t usually bother with book fairs anyway. We expected that would be the end to what seemed to us to be quite a small matter but since that time, the publisher in question has sent some emails and social media posts out to the contrary, which of course is their prerogative. For our part, we informed them of our decision privately as we didn’t wish to unfairly malign them just because we didn’t get their 'joke' and we choose not to name the publisher in question here as we have no interest in potentially affecting them in any way beyond choosing not to work with them at the small book fair that we are in the process of arranging. It is only their emails and social media posts on the issue in the last week or so which have given us cause to make some small statement about the situation, hence this post. We do not condone their use of the political imagery/symbolism in question, joke or otherwise, if we did we wouldn’t have been uncomfortable with it in the first place, but we also do not wish to make a judgement on their freedom of expression. After all, we just make, publish and, hopefully sometimes, sell works of indie literature and we do not feel qualified to make such judgements. At the same time though, we can and have chosen to exercise our own prerogative to spend our time working with people with whom we at least feel comfortable.