October 7, 2021
From Alternative Bristol (UK)
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A Bristol Bookfair is back – at last! It’s been a while…and that blasted covid hasn’t helped.

Bookfairs are great – a chance to pick up radical literature & related mechandise in-person not online; meet people & network; check out local campaigns, groups, artists, authors & publishers; and expand your mind! In our experience there’s also been some cracking vegan nosh as well (and usually a banging after-party).
Remember this – by attending, you will piss off the powers that be, because they don’t like people who think freely and search out alternatives…which is why covid was such a bonus for them as we were confined to our homes. It was like a prison society.

For a while, Bookfairs in Bristol were an annual event. The Bristol Anarchist Bookfair happened pretty much yearly from 2008 until 2018, but in 2019 they didn’t get it together…and then we were locked down. Alongside that, the Bristol Radical History Festival, originally a ‘radical history zone’ at the Anarchist Bookfair organised by Bristol Radical History Group (BRHG), branched out to be an event in it’s own right at M Shed. Their event in 2019 attracted many hundreds of people to M Shed, which was pretty much full to capacity. But their planned events for 2020 & 2021 were cancelled by covid – the Radical History Festival is due to be back on Saturday 14 May 2022. As for the next Anarchist Bookfair? Well who knows…but in the midst of the Tories neo-liberal authoritarian assault on all forms of dissent, on the working class poor, on the environment & ecology, on wages & benefits, on terms & conditions, on public services, on all of the rights that have been fought for & won over the last 200 years…we need more gatherings to chat, think, read, experience, skill-share, network, plot and plan. (for a snapshot of the Anarchist Bookfairs see this archive from BRHG).

From May 2011

So what can we expect this Sunday?
Well it’s at the Exchange on Old Market BS2, not the largest venue in Bristol, but there’ll be plenty of outside pavement space if inside gets too busy. It’s gonna be mainly stalls, not meetings nor workshops. But there will be vegan food, from the excellent Pitchfork cafe. Respect to Active Distro who’ve initiated and are hosting this event, as we emerge from such a difficult and anxiety inducing 18 months.

This Bookfair won’t be as big and all encompassing as ones in recent years. Who can forget the 7th May 2011 event at Hamilton House? With the Banksy Tesco petrol bomb poster on sale outside, a queue down the road, over 60 stalls, dozens of meetings/workshops/discussions & films, and a cracking after-party down the road! Remember this was just over a week after the two Stokes Croft anti-Tesco/anti-police disturbances, and the cops had threatened to shut it down (ie attack it). But they backed off, perhaps when they realised how popular it was!? Then there were the next few at Trinity Centre, taking up 2 floors and the massive outside space & garden, with upto 1500 people coming along (wonder if a Bristol Mayor will come to this one?). To recreate – or improve on – events like that, that grew in popularity, you need to take the initative too, get organised, get stuck in, and help create community events that attract people from way beyond the activist & counter-cultural scene. Why not have a word with Active Distro and join in with organising the next one?

This Sunday expect an event that is compact and exciting, small is beautiful, and from acorns grow bigger things. The future remains unwritten.
Books not capitalist bombs. Enjoy Sunday!
(Images – scavanged & edited from internet, originals by Active Distro & Banksy)




Source: Alternativebristol.com