The AWP bookfair: A visual tour

The bookfair at AWP.

Abby Freeland is the sales and marketing director at West Virginia University Press, where she also acquires fiction. She recently represented WVU Press at AWP’s annual conference, where she was an exhibitor at the bookfair.

Every year, writers from around the world gather at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference to talk—and maybe gossip, if only a little—about books, writers, writing, and everything in between.

With a mission “to foster literary achievement, advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing” it’s easy, if not compulsory, to focus on the craft of writing at this conference.

What are you writing? How are you writing it? Who are you reading? What do you think about their writing? What’s that publisher’s submission process? Do you have a contract?

Words, words, words.

Yet, with a bookfair of more than 800 exhibitors—from publishers to literary journals to writing programs—supplementing the conference readings and panels, it’s hard to overlook another vital component of this conference: the book itself.

When you walk into AWP’s bookfair, you’re faced with thousands of books, all for sale. It’s a delightful prospect for the average bookworm, but it’s also overwhelming. Because there are wall-to-wall books and writers in this exhibit hall, it takes something visual—not just a title or an author or a publishing house—to grab your attention.

With this in mind, my walks around this year’s bookfair had a higher purpose. I gathered photographic evidence to prove something I’ve always known: University presses not only produce groundbreaking and important texts, but we also produce beautiful visual artifacts.

Take a look at the colorful, sophisticated, and innovative book covers that I saw at AWP 2018, all new from university presses.

And here’s a sneak peek at one of my favorite WVU Press covers of the fall 2018 season:

The Sound of Holding Your Breath: Stories

Apologies to any of the university presses at AWP 2018 not included here. It simply means you were busy when I stopped at your booth. A testament to your work!

One thought on “The AWP bookfair: A visual tour

  1. I love AWP, for all you mention and more: networking, making new acquaintances that speak your “language” that of the book. And hope and excitement. If I could only get writers in our state to know, and come to be excited about, attending. It’s a shot in the arm for all writers/authors. Try it! You’ll be glad you did.

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