The Independent Press Fair

This was held at Dragon Hall in Norwich on May 29th 2022, part of the last day of events held during the annual Norfolk & Norwich Arts Festival. From 10am to 4pm, visitors had the chance to browse and buy small press books, magazines and prints from around 20 stallholders, of which The Earlham Review was but one. The event was organised by the National Centre of Writing, resident to Dragon Hall, and several staff members were on hand to advise the stallholders and guide visitors. The stallholders had an hour to organise themselves before doors opened, and your correspondent laid out copies of The Earlham Review in a number of ways, checking each for visual impact, before settling on one particular display (pictured). I’d brought plenty of each copy of the Review, including the latest issue, number eight, which was making its public debut, having been picked up from the printers only a couple of days previously. It was clear from the start that the Review, with its staff of one, that being myself (although Teddy the cat does try to help on occasion), and selling only the Review, was by some way the smallest of the small presses present that day. We were a wren amongst the ravens. Still, the Review’s motto has always been ‘too small to fail’, and come 10am, we (that’s the ‘royal we’) were confident of making at least a few sales and maybe some interesting contacts along the way.

Five hours later, and we were much less confident, having sold nothing, despite the fair being well attended, and indeed, well organised by the Centre. We are not one of nature’s salesmen, which is most likely why I ended up a writer, but a sole trader must sometimes be a jack-of-all-trades. Instead, this particular trader started dying inside, envying the comparative, easy-going success of the other stallholders, and checking his mobile for updates on the Monaco Grand Prix. Finally, at around 3pm, one visitor took pity and bought a copy of issue eight, though I think this individual was on a mission to buy one of everything on offer at the fair. And, a few minutes before the fair closed, the stallholder representing Norfolk County Council’s zine collection department purchased a copy each of issues six, seven, and eight. So, when 4pm arrived at long last, it was time for this scribbler to pack up his troubles in an old black holdall, slope off back home, and lay down for a while. But what next?

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