On recent criticisms of this year’s Book Fair venue:

The Armory Community CenterThe Book Fair Committee would like to address the recent criticisms of the new location for the book fair, The Armory Community Center.

As has been mentioned previously, the old venue (The Hall of Flowers/County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park) had become prohibitively expensive and difficult to work with. Rental fees there almost doubled over the last three years, with additional mandatory “hiring” of Park Rangers (an armed branch of law enforcement), coupled with further punitive restrictions (e.g. no valet bike parking, restrictions on selling outside). After an exhaustive search and much discussion, we decided to relocate the Book Fair for 2013 to The Armory Community Center, owned by Kink.com.

In the search for the new venue, we considered many locations, but ruled them out because of several reasons, including size (being large enough to include all vendors), a room for speakers separate from the vendor hall, cost, and availability during March 2013. We have included below a list of the venues considered/investigated in the search to find a successor to the County Fair Building.

The Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair does not make a profit, is organized by a committee of volunteers, and is sponsored by the all-volunteer Bound Together Anarchist collective bookstore. We would like the book fair to remain free to attendees and affordable for vendors (current table price is $150 for two days, though in the past it has been as much as $205). In addition to the rental of the venue, there are additional costs to be considered such as: renting tables/chairs, poster design/printing, security, etc.

In an effort to accommodate all of the vendors, as well as to continue having speakers, we chose The Armory Community Center, which in addition to being affordable (and resulting in a 25% decrease in fees for vendors) is located near public transportation. We also considered that a number of local anarchists have or do work there. We announced this decision in August 2012 and have included the information in all of our materials.

It is our belief that there is a valid political criticism of every venue that is potentially available. The universities we considered, it seems almost self-evident to point out, are the prime engines of defense research, vivisection, and genetic engineering. Many of the venues under consideration are involved in labor disputes, and the County Fair Building/Arboretum is pivotal to privatization of the Parks (to say nothing of the corruption scandal involving the overtime pay of Park Rangers).

We acknowledge that pornography and sex work have been divisive issues in the anarchist community. The choice of the Armory Community Center is not a political statement, and the Book Fair Committee is taking no political position on pornography. We accept that members of the community (and even members of this committee) have differing opinions on this issue. We will be organizing a discussion on anarchist perspectives on pornography during the book fair, and if this topic interests you, we hope that you will attend. We will be hosting it at a venue near the Armory and hope to announce the details when the full book fair schedule is released next week.

Because we live in a capitalist society, and until we have created an explicitly anarchist infrastructure that can support this type of event, such contradictions and compromises are inevitable. We would be happy to consider additional venues for next year. If you have a suggestion of a venue that meets the criteria listed below, please email us at abookfair@yahoo.com.

In solidarity,

– Jen Angel, Ramsey Kanaan, and Joey Paxman
The Book Fair Committee

Venue Criteria:

  • Costs below $10,000 for two full days of rental (including tables, chairs, security)
  • Can accommodate 100 6-ft vendor tables indoors
  • Has a separate room  (or two) for speakers that has a minimum capacity of 50
  • Is accessible by public transportation
  • Will not object to the political nature of the event

Venues originally considered that were too small / expensive /etc:

  • Oakland Convention Center
  • Laney College
  • The Concourse Exhibition Center
  • The Moscone Center
  • Fort Mason
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
  • Mission High School
  • Horace Mann Middle School
  • The Women’s Building
  • Mission Cultural Center
  • MLK Jr Middle School
  • Oakland Metro Opera House
  • Great American Music Hall
  • The Regency Ballroom
  • Oakland Asian Cultural Center
  • Berkeley Community College
  • California Institute for Integral Studies
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of California Berkeley.
  • Mission Bay Conference Center
  • San Francisco State University
  • San Francisco Design Center
  • Kezar Stadium