Mark your calendars, Sunday is booked! Come to Eastern Market on July 16 for the first Detroit Festival of Books. With over 150 vendors, stroll from table to table to the groovy sound of funk. The family- friendly and free event has a variety of vendors and food trucks to meet everyone’s needs. Ryan M. Place, the vice president of the Book Club of Detroit and the event chairman and creator, spoke with us to share how the festival went from an idea to an event!
Carrie Adamczyk: Can you tell me about the Book Club of Detroit, your involvement in it and the club’s involvement with the festival?
Ryan Place: I am the vice president of the Book Club of Detroit, a nonprofit group of people who are primarily rare book collectors and antique book dealers. We are about 150 members strong at the moment. We have been getting new membership applications coming in since announcement of the festival, which is great to see. We meet in the community for drinks and discussions about book related topics, book collecting, select talks from authors and book industry individuals. We are here to encourage a greater degree of literacy in the community and a greater love of books; physical books, not intangible Kindle, e-type books, but the beauty of the physical book.
CA: What led to the idea and execution of the First Detroit Festival of Books?
RP: I was thinking of the fact that Detroit does not have a book fest at all, for being such a dynamic city. Places like Ann Arbor, Chicago, and all these other cities have great book festivals. What better way to help enhance the area by showcasing the great people and all the wonderful stuff they have by hosting a book fest. Really it came about by wanting to do something wonderful for the city and I’ve had a lifelong love of books. I pitched the idea to the Book Club of Detroit, and they loved it. So we kind of rolled with it and one thing led to another. Everybody’s been really supportive, a lot of great partners in this, Eastern Market, KDZ consulting, who built our website, all the food vendors, the city of Detroit. They have been so supportive. Once we put it out there, it started taking a life of its own and evolving from there.
CA: How long has this plan been in the works?
RP: It’s been on my mind in the nebulous form for a few years. About a year ago, I was at John King’s Books, and I had an epiphany that Detroit is such a fine city with collections of books and great people and we need to have a book festival. We started the preliminary work in March 2016, Eastern Market came on board along with KDZ consulting and it took some time to get stuff worked out. Then, we launched our website and Facebook event page in January 2017. So it took about a year to come to fruition and after we announced the event, we had an incredible response that blew everybody away and it went from there.
CA: Besides books, what can attendees find at the festival?
RP: Some of the vendors will have vinyl records, rare musical instruments, and vintage board games. There is going to be some creative arts with interesting paintings, drawings, things of that nature. Non-profit local companies will be participating. We will also have some food vendors. So it’s going to be a good mix and everything will be tied together by the groovalicious sounds of funk music. We are all going to have a great time.
CA: What are you most excited for about the festival?
RP: Personally, I am really excited that Detroit is going to have its first true major book festival and we are hoping to get a lot of positive attention on the city of Detroit, the greater Detroit area and Michigan by doing this festival. Often times the news that comes out of here is overwhelmingly negative and they focus on all of the worst possible aspects of things. One of my favorite things about this is generating positive vibes statewide, nationally, and internationally. We have vendors coming from all over the country to vend here, and people from Canada are going to be here. We have been getting hundreds of emails every week from people all over the world – it’s overwhelming. So people are definitely tuning into it and I think it’s going to be great for the area.
CA: As a rare book collector, what is your favorite book or author?
RP: I have a favorite book, it’s not rare per say, it’s an old book. My favorite all time book is “Tao Te Ching.” It was written in 500 B.C. by Laozi. It profoundly changed by life and helped shaped my inner growth and development. My high school teacher, Mr. Francis, turned us on to it, I went to Plymouth Canton High School. It’s a very interesting read. I reread it every year just to get the full flavor of it. Honorable mentions: “Hamlet,” by Shakespeare, “Bleak House,” by Charles Dickens, and “The Rose of Paracelsus,” by William Leonard Pickard.
The Detroit Book Festival runs from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 16 at Eastern Market’s Shed 5, located at 2934 Russell St. Admission is free!
The Book Club of Detroit has many different membership options for individuals and families. They host monthly events in Detroit and Metro Detroit. Please let us know all the great goods you find at the festival! Don’t forget to tag @OpportunityDET on Instagram or Twitter!