Printed Matter's New York Art Book Fair is a big and sweaty representation of what is really going on in publishing. This year, 370 exhibitors from 28 countries set up shop in MoMA PS1, and 39,000 people came through between September 16 and 18. We spoke to some of the stallholders. - Max Olijnyk


Stefan Marx | I'm from Hamburg, Germany.

Why are you here?

I've been friends with Printed Matter for a long time and I'm a big fan of books, and all this culture around them. I've done zines by myself since the late '90s, starting with the Lousy Livin' Company zines, then just publishing my own drawings. I came to New York to visit the Art Book Fair and my friend Benjamin from Nieves I think in 2008 or 09. Then I came as a visitor again in 2010, then my friend Jason Polan asked me to share a table with him and take part, and Shannon Michael Cane asked me as well, so we started up sharing a table and it was great. Since then, I come here annually and I've upgraded myself a bit every time. Now I have my own table and I'm selling original drawings beside zines and books I make. It's great and the best part is to meet all these people.

If there was just one item you could choose out of all of yours, what would it be?

My favourite item today is probably the book I published with Dashwood Books, it's called One Sky Star World Team Alliance. It's a book which combines all my plane drawings I did at airports around the world when I'm travelling. I'm really into it and I'm honoured to show this niche of my work with Dashwood Books. It's a really nice thing.

What's your pick of the whole fair?

If I had to pick one thing, I would maybe go with the new Tauba Auerbach book published by Diagonal Press.  I'm not sure what it's called, but it's amazing.

What did you have for breakfast?

I was here really early and the doors were closed, so I had time to go to Court Square Diner and I had scrambled eggs with home fries and toast. It was my first really nice, no rush book fair breakfast.



Todd Jordan | Heavytime

Why are you here?

I'm here to make some money, man. Christmas is just around the corner, so I need money for Christmas shopping.

If there was just one item you could choose out of all of yours, what would it be?

The Jason Evans book I think. We're very proud of that. Jason's somebody we met last year at the book fair, so what a great way to reunite the relationship. He's just someone we really respect, and it's been a pleasure to be able to work with the guy.

What did you have for breakfast?

This morning I had scrambled eggs with onions and tomato on some sourdough toast.


Jeremy Sanders | 6 Decades Books

Why are you here?

I have participated in the NY Art Book Fair on each of its eleven years. It's not always been with my own business, which I formed about six years ago, but for one business or another I've been a shopkeeper here every year. This is the best place to find a critical mass of artists, collectors and enthusiasts who love this material, and are going to keep it alive. This is the place to be, and it keeps me interested as well, to be able to talk about all this stuff.

It's energising.

It's both energising and exhausting.

As I understand it, a lot of these items are actually your personal property. Are they for sale?

Oh, they're all for sale. The reason I have the shop is I don't have the means to own this stuff permanently, but I can own it for a while. So I find things that are of interest to me, then those things lead me to other things I'm interested in. One thing leads to another.

If there was just one item you could choose out of all of yours, what would it be?

I'm leaning towards the Robert Rauschenberg White Paintings poster. The poster's from 1968; it was the first time that this sequence of white canvasses of Rauschenberg's were exhibited publically, but they were first painted in 1951. They were just simply white canvasses that he painted, and shortly thereafter overpainted them, and painted other paintings on them; but they continued being an idea that was of interest to people, so he later had them repainted and exhibited. But they always existed as an idea, so they were both very early conceptual art and very early minimalist art, and it took the world at least 20 years to catch up to them. In 1968 they were exhibited at Castelli Gallery, where they continued to outrage people. It was the first time that, other than a very select group of people, anyone had ever seen them, although a lot of people had heard about them.

If there was one item you could get from the rest of the fair, what would it be?

The 20th Century Archives has the catalogue to the Man, Machine and Motion exhibition, which was at the London ICA in 1955 I believe. It was one of the very first Pop shows, like a catalogue of contemporary technology. It was a compendium of modern imagery, showing humans and rocket ships with cars, etc., celebrating the space age and the industrial era of human history. It was a really important show, and it's very, very hard to find.

What did you have for breakfast?

Coffee and a donut.



Eric Elms |  And Press/Powers

Why are you here?

I have a publishing thing called And Press. I'm repping all my publications and the start of a little brand called Powers.

What is your favourite thing at your stall?

The Yeezy season one catalogue redrawn by Jason Polan. 

What is your favourite thing at the whole fair?

I bought this book by Nicholas Gottlund called Holding the Frame that was published by Lodret Vandret.

What did you have for breakfast?

This is a good one. Coconut water, one banana, a hot coffee, a piece of banana bread, and a ham and spinach quiche.



Mieke Chew |  New Directions Publishing, but we're here with Christine Burgin. 

Why are you here?

Mostly because we do these books of Emily Dickinson's facsimile envelope poems; and Robert Walser's microscope facsimile editions - these beautiful crossovers between art and texts. And also Susan Howe, who's a poet and essayist, and archivist, we have art books of hers, and she did the keynote two years ago.

If there was just one item you could choose out of all of yours, what would it be?

Spontaneous Particulars: The Telepathy of Archives by Susan Howe. She's kind of a magpie; she goes through archives and from an entire archive, she might pull one scrap of cloth or a tiny fragment of a text, and she somehow connects them all into this essay, which she also gave as a lecture at the Whitney in 2015.

If there were one item you could get from the rest of the fair, what would it be?

That's tough. I actually already bought this Sophie Calle book that was published by Siglio Press. It's a really beautiful book, it's blue, and she kind of stalks people from Europe and writes one essay a day I think. I haven't read it yet.

Man, I love her stuff.

She's like the perfect writer's artist and artist's writer.

What did you have for breakfast?

I had a lot for breakfast because I planned for this fair like I was going for a hike. I had a whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and a coffee.



Hannah and Katie | Printed Matter 

What did you have for breakfast?

Hannah: Coffee, just coffee

Katie: I had a coffee and then I had this weird coconut blueberry scone thing. Then another coffee.

Why are you here?

Katie: Because we work at Printed Matter, and Printed Matter puts on this fair.

What is your favourite item at your stall?

Katie: I put a lot of work into the guide book, so I'm going to stick with that.

What's your pick of the whole fair?

Katie: For me, probably Emma Kohlmann, she's an artist in the zine tent; and Heather Benjamin in the zine tent; Sternberg Press has some great stuff; those are the ones I've tried to hit up.

Hannah: I really like going to the antiquarian section, and I also just spend my time visiting my friends in the zine area, and I feel really overwhelmed if I look at the other stuff.



Dan Rule |  Perimeter Books 

Why are you here?

To show Australian books to the world.

What did you have for breakfast?

I had a smoked salmon tartare and rocket sandwich, from somewhere in Greenpoint.

If there was just one item you could choose out of all of yours, what would it be?

I think it would be Surface Phenomena by Bartolomeo Celestino. I think it's just a really realised project. The object of the book really speaks to the content in a really succinct and articulate way, and it's just a beautiful object. It turns the ocean into this fascinating abstracted matter.

You can almost hear it.


What's your pick of the whole fair?

Most things from the Roma Publications table. I haven't even seen them yet, but Roger Willems is such a good publisher, and he's just done a new book with his wife Batia Suter, which I just know is going to be incredible. Found photographs, just arranged with a really beautiful cadence of images.



Kimmy, Val and Bomin |  Press Press

Kimmy: We're from Press Press. It's an interdisciplinary publishing initiative based in Baltimore.

Why are you here?

Kimmy: They invited us and we didn't have to pay for it. And it's cool, it's a cool thing and we're honoured to be a part of it.

What did you have for breakfast?

Kimmy: I had this really good spinach croissant thing. It looked like a bread flower with spinach in the middle.

Val: I had this amazing pulled pork with two benedict eggs on top, and potatoes. I haven't had anything since because I'm still so full.

Bomin: I had French toast with fruits.

What is your favourite thing at your stall?

Kimmy: The If I Ruled the World book. This is a project that is based on the Nas song, and basically we facilitated ten different conversations and collaborations between Baltimore-based artists, activists and writers, and asked them to share their most positive visions of the world. This is the book form of it but there's a bunch of different projects that came out of it.

What is your favourite thing at the whole fair?

I haven't had a chance to look around.

Maybe it would be my book of short stories then?




Shannon Michael Cane |  Printed Matter

I am the director-curator of the fair, and I work for Printed Matter

If you had to pick one item from the whole fair, what would it be?

Because I've been doing these fairs for eight years, it's hard for me to shop because it gets a little bit awkward. I almost have to dress up as a secret boss sometimes. Like, Ryan McGinley used to come to the fair and wear a hat and sunglasses and have big headphones on so no one would approach him. Every now and then I want to be that type of wanker and be like, 'Don't talk to me because I'm not in that space,'. But I looked around before and I think it would be Jill Freedman. Lele from 8 Ball discovered this photographer, an old Jewish lady in her seventies who is kind of like the female version of Bruce Davidson. I love Davidson's work, he really captured an amazing time in New York City, but Jill's photos are just as amazing, and she's sitting in the 8 Ball zine tent right now. Lele found this archive of photos and made a zine with her. I had an amazing conversation with her yesterday; I was looking through her old books and I opened one to a photo of a dick and I was like, 'Oh, I opened it to the right page,' and she goes, 'Yes, on the other side is Kathleen's cunt.' Hearing a seventy-year-old Jewish New Yorker say 'Kathleen's cunt' kind of made my day. I told her I wanted to buy one of her photos and she said she had a box of prints at home, so yesterday she brought in the box of vintage archive prints and I went through them and picked out this print of two police officers in a hallway. She sold it to me and signed it for me, and it's from the '70s. So my favourite thing would be hanging out with Jill yesterday while she sculled a full glass of scotch and told me about the good old days of New York City.

That must make you feel pretty good about doing this fair.

Yeah, and sometimes I come to this fair and leave with three tote bags full of shit, then six months later, they're still sitting in the tote bags and I don't have the time or energy to collate it. That collecting gene is kind of wearing off in me a bit and I try to focus on having one purchase per fair that's something I can remember, where I had an exchange with a person. Just because I have so much shit, and this one photo from Jill, I'm going to be like, 'Oh, that's New York Art Book Fair 2016'. It's more about sharing an experience with someone, rather than having 200 zines that I could potentially buy today. And people are really really sweet to me, and want to give me stuff all the time, but I've just had to start saying no.

I heard you saying that to someone the other day, and you did it really well.

I just, you know. Like I'm a total t-shirt head as well, and the Brain Dead guys are so sweet to me, and they totally look after me, but I honestly just have to say, 'Enough'. I've lived in New York for eight years and my basement is filled with boxes of fucking t-shirts that I never wear. But we're all the same. We have this thing where we just consume and look for the next thing that's going to make us happy. But at this book fair, your head explodes.

There's so much cool shit here, but that's not the point.

The way I explain it to people is it's like the interaction with Jill. When does that happen when you go to a museum or a proper art fair like Art Basel? When are you actually going to sit down and have a glass of whisky with someone who's been taking photographs in New York since the '50s?

What did you have for breakfast?

Breakfast of champions. I had donuts for breakfast.




Survey by Max Olijnyk

Images courtesy of Max Olijnyk


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