First book fair a smashing success

Maria DeLorenzo

By MARIA DELORENZO
City Times

The first City College International Book Fair hit it off this year with two days of readings including one Saturday of booksellers and an eclectic group of vendors.

The book fair took place at the Saville Theatre on October 13 and 14 and boasted an attendance approximated at 2,500 people, in spite of the rain on Saturday morning, which threatened the outdoor vendors.

The readings featured a large group of novelists, poets, international writers, and political writers. Celebrated poet Jimmy Santiago Baca was the last to read and he drew a large crowd and signed books afterwards.

“The turnout exceeded my hopes. The thing that really struck me the most was how grateful people seemed.the feedback has been really great,” said Kelly Mayhew, an English professor here at City College and one of the primary organizers of the book fair.

“People came up to me and said ‘who would’ve thought something like this would happen in San Diego?'” said Mayhew.

It’s the current lack of an active literary scene and community events like this that inspired the event.

The idea of the book fair came initially from City College President Terrence Burgess who was inspired by a community college in Miami, which is now in its 23rd year of the Miami Dade International Book Fair.

Burgess visited Miami and saw how their book fair was operating, “When I was there I spoke with the president and told him I wanted to emulate what they had done there with their book fair, which is one of the biggest book fairs in the nation.”

Miami Dade College had started a literary center, which became the home for organizing the book fair. Burgess did the same and founded the literary center, headed by Jim Miller, City College English professor and one of the founders of the City Works Press.

“My grand vision is that we design a literary center for literary arts that will become the home for the City Works anthology, the City Works Press and the International Book Fair,” said Burgess.

Burgess also said that if Proposition N passes there will be money for a whole new humanities building and the literary center will grow.

Burgess says he has always been a big supporter of literary arts and a book fair seemed like a great idea. “It promotes literacy and it does what a community college is supposed to do,” said President Burgess.

“Eventually we would like to have the book fair every fall as well as to start a reading series,” said Miller. “We want it to be a service for City College and the community at large.”

Miller said the book fair made a good amount of money for both the book fair fund and for City Works Press as well. California Coast Credit Union donated $10,000 to the book fair and the City College Foundation and Jazz 88 were both large supporters as well as donations from individuals.

Burgess and Miller are already meeting to plan the book fair for next year, which promises to be much larger and possibly longer.

“I was amazed at what Jim (Miller) was able to pull off in basically just three months,” said President Burgess. For more information visit the City Book Fair website at www.sdcitybookfair.com