The Manchester Book Market, now in its fifth year, is playing host to some of the most innovative and prolific independent publishers in the North West this weekend.
MM took the opportunity to be introduced to and sample some of the work from a variety of independent publishers selling high-quality fiction, ranging from poetry, novels, short stories, science fiction magazines and comics.
Our first port of call was publisher of slipstream and horror fiction, TTA Press.
TTA publish Interzone, Britain's longest running science fiction and fantasy magazine, which has been shortlisted for the Hugo Award, and twice winner of the British Fantasy Award, and winner of the International Horror Guild Award.
COLLECTION: Just some of the vintage comics and magazines on offer
TTA volunteer Roy Gray explained that the market was a great opportunity to connect with readers of science fiction magazines and attract some people who are curious about the genre.
The 67-year-old added that in recent years science fiction magazines have been in decline – people are more interested in the internet and TV shows, that means less and less people are picking up hard-copy magazines.
The retiree said: “It’s a real shame because these sorts of magazines have been around for 60 years. It’s outstanding that some of the best science fiction and fantasy writers started their careers writing for magazines like ours.”
“Science fiction magazines’ influence is undeniable, the popular film I Robot, for example, was based Isaac Asimov’s short science fiction stories.”
Neighbouring TTA’s stall of ray guns, outer space and androids, is the self proclaimed home of the UK’s best independent comics and creators, Great Beast.
Great Beast, founded only in April, is a banner for like minded creators Adam Cadwell and Marc Ellerby who want to get their work to every person who wants to read it, regardless of format or location.
The Mr Cadwell was keen to stress that they want put as much thought into production values as any other publisher to make the best printed books possible.
The 30-year-old author of Blood Blokes said that starting up Great Beast was a good opportunity to experience his entrepreneurial side.
He added: “Before Blood Blokes and Great Beast I worked as a freelancer, now I have to be my own PR man, editor, author and publisher – as you can imagine it’s a lot of work and the nights are long.”
The cartoonist explained that the main demographic for his comics was between 20s -40s and mostly male, but Chole Noonan, another comic under the Great Beast banner, attracts a lot of female readers.
Andrew Tunney, author of Girl and Boy, was also at the Great Beast stand and expressed the same sentiments as Mr Cadwell.
He said: “Most people think Batman and Marvel Comics do well, but because the comics’ history is so long, they can be overwhelming. The advantage we have is that we’ve just started and people can jump aboard without having to do mass amounts of research.”
The 30-year-old added: “Likewise, comic book films have done really well, but they only concentrate on one corner of the marker – the super heroes. Our comics are based more in reality and our readers can relate better to that.”
Both artists had enjoyed some success in the digital market and expressed that they were able to tap into the burgeoning comic book market in the United States.
The Manchester committee of the Societa’ Dante Alighieri (headquartered in Rome) also have a stand at the book market.
The society is one of many around the world, concerned with the promotion and propagation of the Italian language and culture abroad.
Enthusiastic treasurer of the society Roberto Mobili explained that they welcome anyone, Italian or not, who loves Italy, its culture, language, food, fashion and music.
The 74-year-old said: “I’m here to promote Italian literature, in particular Dante Alighieri – he’s like our William Shakespeare.”
He added: “We established the committee in 1995 and since then it has promoted a host of activities including interesting Italian cultural evenings offering talks in either Italian or English about art, archaeology, music, history, politics, the popular traditions of Ital and current affairs.”
Mr Mobili also expressed his joy at how he felt Italian culture is portrayed in the British Media.
He said: “I lots watch of BBC documentaries about Italian cooking and culture, I think they do a great job of getting a sense of what it’s like to be Italian and how we live our lives.”
YouTube poetry sensation Dean Atta will be taking centre stage in the headline slot tomorrow.
Described as 'brilliantly eloquent,' by QX magazine, and 'one of the leading lights in London's poetry scene,' by Huffington Post, Dean rose to fame when his poem on YouTube 'I am Nobody's Nigger', partly inspired by the murder of Stephen Lawrence, received almost 30,000 hits overnight. He has also been featured in The Guardian, Huffpost Culture, The Voice, Time Out London, The Cultural Expose, The Metro, on BBC Radio One Xtra, and has appeared on BBC Radio 4 alongside poet Michael Rosen.
Mr Atta is also the winner of the Spirit of London Award for 'Achievement through the Arts', and the BEFFTA Award for 'Best Spoken Word Artist/Poet'.
The book market, all in all, is certainly a fantastic chance for readers to discover fresh and upcoming talent, and to support the production of local literature on home soil.