Book festival attracts largest crowd ever
by Andrew Pavia
Sep 26, 2012 | 1657 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Book lovers descended on Brooklyn Borough Hall this past Sunday for the 7th Annual Brooklyn Book Festival.

Last year the festival drew 30,000 participants, but this year it’s estimated by the Borough President’s office that another 10,000 decided to make their way downtown to check out what’s new with the Brooklyn book scene.

In addition to readings and lectures by well-known authors, publishers and local authors set up shop in Cadman Plaza.

Brooklyn Editorials is a local publisher with an array of books filled with vintage pictures of the borough. Brian Merlis, president and founder of, writes or contributes to all of the books that were for sale at the festival.

Merlis had to oversee all of aspects of sales, display and pitching to the customer. As he was telling a possible buyer about the vintage maps in one of the books about Bushwick, he lifted a display of post cards. “Don’t be afraid to spin it,” he said to the next person to visit his table.

An author and publisher with a niche focus was Steven Roman of Star Wars Concepts. He writes “dark urban fantasy” and represented his genre head to toe as he stood behind his books dressed in a black tie covered in skulls under a pea coat with a candy corn shaped pin.

This is his second book fair and he said that he returned because he was, “surprised by the positive response” to last year’s book festival.

“I did okay enough to come back and try again,” he said.

One woman who saw the book fair as an opportunity to do something a little different was Jacquie Phillips, a college English teach who lives in Flatbush. She was sitting in a chair next to three signs supporting President Obama’s campaign along with an array of buttons for sale with the president’s face on them. Phillips was handing out voter registration forms to anyone willing to ask.

When asked why she decided to set up shop at a book fair she laughed and said it was the best place to do so. “These are people who read,” she said.

A former convicted felon walked over to Phillips and asked for a registration form because he recently learned that he was eligible to vote. After a brief conversation between the two, she explained that a polling station was willing to pay $200 a day to anyone who helped on Election Day in November.

The man left with a form for the job opportunity and the voter registration form. Phillips said that a lot of people are out of work and she wanted to make people aware of the opportunity.

“All you can do is try, and I can say that I tried,” she said.

This year the book festival expanded to a series of related events throughout the week in addition to Sunday’s main activities.

“With an entire week of literary events celebrating the written and spoken word, the seventh annual Brooklyn Book Festival was bigger and better than ever,” said Johnny Temple, chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council. “The festival has matured into one of the world’s premier literary destinations, attracting renowned authors, publishers of all sizes, musicians, humorists, graphic novelists, and all of the creative forces that make up our eclectic and constantly evolving literary universe.”
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