The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Chicago Book Expo showcases local publishers

With a hard right out of the Argyle train stop and a few steps down a handful of stairs into St. Augustine College, editors, publishers, writers and literary enthusiasts all crammed into the intimate space for the much anticipated 2013 Chicago Book Expo, Sunday, Nov. 24.

The festivities started promptly at 11 a.m. with vendors frantically scurrying around the auditorium to set up their tables in just the right way, while countless individuals walked and crowded around each respective table, eager to learn more.

Accompanied with bookmarks, expo pamphlets and small flyers, the hard work and dedication put in by the volunteers involved was constantly on display as every person that walked in was greeted and welcomed with information.

Aside from the excitement leading up to the event stemming from the effectiveness of previous expos, new features added to this year’s event brought viewers a little bit closer to Chicago’s indie publishing scene. At the forefront of the new additions was the venue itself. St. Augustine College, the first bilingual institution of higher education in Illinois and home to Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay Studios, provided a breath of fresh air for the expo and gave volunteers a bit more versatility with setting up the event.

Expanded programming, bilingual programming and self-published authors only scratched the surface of the several different workshops and discussions that were available for attendees to participate in. In addition, countless unique and loyal organizations had their talents on display.

Molly Walsh, head agent for the non-profit organization 826 Chicago, returned once again to the Chicago Book Expo with hopes of making their message heard and also interacting with the many aspiring writers and publishers in and around the Chicagoland area present at the event.

“The people running the expo actually came to us back when the first expo was being put together and we thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved, and here we are years later still participating,” Walsh said.

Much different from other organizations in attendance, 826 Chicago’s target audience is primarily students ranging from anywhere between six and 18 years old. One-on-one attention with students and teachers has provided these volunteers with the opportunity to offer creative writing workshops, field trips and other events to inspire the creative process of the teachers and students.

“It’s extremely rewarding. We typically have one major release per year along with one other compendium release each year. The kids get to write and we publish the material,” Walsh said.

Non-profit and volunteer-orientated continued to be common aspects for the vast majority of the organizations that were in attendance. However, many small publishing companies were present to showcase their talents and goals.

Jason Pettus formed the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP) in the summer of 2007 with its sights set on an online approach centered around weekly podcasts, book and movie reviews in the early going. Since then, the organization has developed and began publishing original books as well as providing merchandise for fans to purchase. With mainly an online presence, the Chicago Book Expo proved to be a great way for Pettus and his partner, Jason Fortney, to give a face to the names their readers see on the web.

“I started out as an advisor with the original Chicago Book Expo, and once Jason let me into what he was trying to accomplish with the CCLaP, we knew an event as special as this expo was a must to attend,” Fortney said.

Continuing with the close attention paid to the community and their involvement in the indie publishing scene of Chicago, the CCLaP provides podcasts, workshops, readings and other classes for community members to get involved with.

“The Chicago Book Expo is simply a very special event that we’re very grateful to be a part of,” Pettus said.

Looking back on the event, Lynn Haller, co-organizer of the expo, was relieved and very excited with the amount of constructive feedback and appreciation they received.

“We were very happy with attendance and how everything went, and we’ve received very positive feedback from the exhibitors too. We’ve already heard from many people that they met so many interesting writers and publishers,” Haller said.

In particular, Ellen Beals, literary participant in the expo, had nothing but kind wordsand praise for the way in which the Chicago Book Expo was managed.

Eager for the future, Haller and the rest of the expo staff are anxious to see what the future holds for the indie publishing scene in Chicago.

“There’s clearly a need we filled with this event, and we have a lot of dreams of what we could now do with more time and with more experience under our belt,” Haller said.

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