Calling all bookworms, the Detroit Festival of Books (Detroit Bookfest) returns for the fifth time on Eastern Market Sunday.
Also known as the Detroit Bookfest, Michigan’s largest book festival is dedicated to promoting the appreciation and love of books. Throughout the day, vendors sell comics, vintage books, vinyl records and more. In addition to food and drinks, there will be live music throughout the event. The entrance to the event is free.
Ryan Place, founder and chairman of the event, said the idea for the festival came to fruition while browsing through the stacks of old books at John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit. Place said he was inspired by other book events across the state and felt Detroit needed its own book festival that promoted literacy among audiences of all ages. He also wanted to make the event accessible to everyone, regardless of economic status.
Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic. This year’s festival is being scaled back to address health and safety concerns, Place said.
“We were in shed 3, which is the largest shed at Eastern Market, but we will be staying in shed 5 again this year to safely get back to where we were before (before the pandemic),” he said. “When we were in Shed 3 in 2019, we had 150 to 200 vendors. We will have fewer than 100 this year just for health and safety reasons. We hope to be back in Shed 3 either next year or the following year. We’re just trying not to rush things.”
As they limit the number of in-person vendors who can come to the festival, the organization is experimenting with a virtual book festival. Vendors not selected to participate in the face-to-face aspect of the event may apply here to list their digital storefront. Items that can be sold virtually include books, comics, creative arts, ephemera, cards, paper items, posters, and vinyl records.
John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit was named the second best bookstore in the world by Business Insider in 2014 and sells at the Detroit Bookfest every year, although it hasn’t sold at any other event in years. Shopkeeper John King said in an email statement that he enjoys meeting up with locals looking for good books.
“We ran fairs decades ago and then quit because we felt running a bookstore was a lot more challenging and professional,” King said. “Bookfest is a wonderful addition to Detroit’s cultural heritage. Ryan does a great job of administration which is a great convenience to all exhibiting booksellers.”
The festival is sponsored by KDZ Consulting and Technologies and DBusiness Magazine. There will be a variety of food vendors including: Delray Barbecue, Treat Dreams, Detroit Gourmet Nut Company, Big Dogs Hot Dogs, Cosmic Burrito, Bea’s Squeeze and Eastern Market Brewing Company.
In addition, the Arts and Scraps ‘Scrap-Mobile’ will be available to give children free materials for their own books.
Concurrent with the event will be an after party with vendors and live music at the Eastern Market Brewing Company.
5th Annual Detroit Festival of Books
Shed 5: 2934 Russell St., Detroit