Book Fort is a wandering book fair that takes places each year at a handful of festivals. We're interested in the intersection of literature, music, and performance, and we seek to create meaningful interactions between communities, independent publishers, and literary organizations.
Curbside Splendor was conceived as a punk rock band in the early 1990s in an apartment in Urbana, Illinois. The band never really went anywhere, but Curbside was re-founded as an independent press in the fall of 2009. They're located in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. They publish fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry that celebrates extraordinary voices. Through a handful of projects (which include publishing books, hosting an annual novella contest, and producing readings, shows, and books fairs) they aim to rewrite the tradition of Midwestern publishing.
Featherproof Books was founded in 2005 by Zach Dodson and Jonathan Messinger with the intent to publish whatever they want. In 2014 they passed the torch to Tim Kinsella who—with the help of Jason Sommer, Naomi Huffman, and Roosevelt University—will carry on this mission, publishing strange and beautiful fiction and nonfiction and post-, trans-, and inter-genre tragicomedy.
The Point is a print and digital magazine of philosophical writing that embodies two distinct but complementary convictions: on the one hand, that humanistic thinking has relevance for contemporary life; on the other, that our lives are full of experiences worth thinking about. The magazine publishes nonfiction essays that blend memoir, criticism and journalism to examine the ideas and beliefs that shape our world. The Point adheres to no specific political or social agenda; instead, it asks its readers to participate in a dialogue between diverse intellectual traditions, personalities and points of view.
Magic Helicopter Press was born in Ashland, Oregon in 2007. It teethed in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts from 2007-2011, lived in Baltimore for a year, moved back to Northampton, MA in 2012, and is - as of January 1st, 2015 - experiencing the thralls of adolescence in Portland, Oregon. They are focused on publishing across platforms, mediums and “the universe.” Their paper books are collectible art items, not unlike Dale Earnhardt commemorative plates. Their e-books are not paper books melted onto the screen but books aware of their digital space. They are literature with a passiflora caerulea for a rotor. They land on your head.
Two Dollar Radio was started in 2005 by Eric Obenauf and Eliza Wood-Obenauf, an idealistic, young husband-and-wife team with an intense love of books. Over the past 10 years, they've become one of the most trusted and acclaimed independent publishers in North America, and the only one to also produce films, announcing their micro-budget film division, Two Dollar Radio Moving Pictures, in 2013.
A very small press based in Chicago, Illinois, Meekling Press specializes in small, hand-made editions of books by authors they adore. They work in collaboration with their authors throughout the design and production process, much more closely than a traditional press would do. They are as interested in publishing a single sentence as something like a novel. What is more important is to find that sentence of that novel (etc) its most wonderful, thoughtfully-created nest.
Sarabande Books was founded in 1994 by Sarah Gorham and Jeffrey Skinner to publish poetry, short fiction, and essay; to disburse these works with diligence and integrity; and to serve as an educational resource for readers, students, and teachers of creative writing. Sarabande authors and staff members conduct an estimated 225 readings, workshops, and lectures per year, and they strive to make their programs and services accessible to all.
Haymarket Books is a nonprofit, radical book distributor and publisher, a project of the Center for Economic Research and Social Change. They believe that activists need to take ideas, history, and politics into the many struggles for social justice today. Learning the lessons of past victories, as well as defeats, can arm a new generation of fighters for a better world.
PM Press was founded at the end of 2007 by a small collection of folks with decades of publishing, media, and organizing experience. They seek to create radical and stimulating fiction and non-fiction books, pamphlets, t-shirts, visual and audio material to entertain, educate, and inspire. They aim to distribute these through every available channel with every available technology, whether that means seeing anarchist classics at their bookfair stalls; reading their latest vegan cookbook at the café; downloading geeky fiction e-books; or digging new music and timely videos from their website.
826CHI is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. They provide after-school tutoring, creative writing workshops, field trips, in-school support, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of their programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.
Midwesten Gothic is a quarterly print literary journal out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, dedicated to featuring work about or inspired by the Midwest, by writers who live or have lived there. Midwestern Gothic aims to collect the very best in Midwestern writing in a way that has never been done before, cataloguing the oeuvre of an often region of the United States ripe with its own mythologies and tall tales.
Hobart (online) was created in 2001 and continued to update with monthly issues, until their new website was built and launched in September 2012 and they moved to daily content. Every April is devoted to an annual baseball issue, and the publication of print issues is paired with a month of "bonus materials." In 2006 it grew again into books (Short Flight/Long Drive Books), with Elizabeth Ellen as Editor.
Civil Coping Mechanisms (CCM) is a DIY kind of press. They take the sentiment of doing it themselves while stating to the tired publishing process, "To hell with it." Why not do it their way? What matters: offering a space for the innovation so sorely shamed and disregarded as unmarketable by the major and indie presses too busy selling the next celebrity memoir, paper-thin creative non-fiction spine of lies, the wax-intellectual pursuits of yet-again the same vision wrapped in newer trim, or the same regurgitated genre-fiction and prose you'd expect would have become stale by now. They rant. They'll do as they damn well please.
Poems While You Wait is a group of Chicago poets who periodically set up shop with their typewriters at an event or location in the city. Passersby can pay $5 for an original poem, typed on the spot, which they come back and retrieve 15 or 20 minutes later. PWYW was founded in the summer of 2011 when Dave Landsberger, who’d been involved in a similar group in Miami, Fl., moved to Chicago. He invited Chicago poet and friend Kathleen Rooney to join him, and they set up at their first event in Wicker Park with one typewriter. It was such a hit that the group has remained active and now has a number of poets involved.
7Vientos (7V) is a bilingual publishing house that strives to serve the world of confluences that is today’s America. Their books have been dubbed “flip” books after the way they read through on one side in its original language and the other in its translation to the English language. The objective is simple: to promote diversity of cultures by bringing literature previously unavailable in English. They publish works by writers who think outside the box; unorthodox, experimental, and intellectually risky.
The Chicago Humanities Festival presents entertaining and smart programming about ideas that matter. But they do more than that. They connect people to the ideas that shape and define us; they promote lifelong exploration of what it means to be human. CHF fosters curiosity, celebrates creativity, explores the boundaries of contemporary knowledge and culture, and challenges us to see ourselves and the world anew.
Pitchfork's venture into print after more than 17 years online. The Pitchfork Review: a perfect-bound quarterly music publication that combines new long-form feature stories, photography, illustrations and other ephemera with selected recent pieces from Pitchfork. Documenting music culture, past and present.
Book Fort logo by Shaun Crittenden. Photos by Alex Free and Shaun Crittenden.