Book lovers have something else to be thankful for this week.
Ottawa Street North will be transformed by local authors and book lovers on Friday, October 15 in the city’s first-ever Book Crawl.
Part trade show, part market and part meeting place, the event will present tables of Hamilton-based authors outside of local businesses on the street from 7-9pm. Attendees are encouraged to meet local authors, buy books, support Ottawa Street businesses and learn more about the local writing community.
Ottawa Street is already home to a passionate literary community, based around City & The City Books; an independent bookstore at Cannon Street that sells new and used books, magazines and gifts. Pre-pandemic, the store held book launches and signings; more recently, they’ve shifted to focus on the community, with virtual book clubs and discussion groups.
Like Art Crawl, the initiative that has inspired the Book Crawl, this is a grassroots initiative. The presenting group, the Greater Hamilton Writers Association is a fairly recent addition to Hamilton’s arts community. Founded by Kate DeJonge, a thriller/horror writer in the late summer, the Association was created to provide a greater platform to local writers. Free to join, the Greater Hamilton Writers Association provides support in the form of listings, connections to readers, events, and networking opportunities.
DeJonge will be one of the authors present at this week’s Book Crawl. The event promises to spotlight a variety of literary genres and diverse authors, with over ten writers announced as participating. In addition to DeJonge, other writers announced include Jess Blenkarn; a past winner of Hamilton’s Short Works Prize who published her first novel at age fifteen; and indie fantasy writer Nicole A. Oliver. Also present will be Bill King, whose literary work focuses on Hamilton history. For those interested in the publishing process, King leads Attawandaron, a small publisher that focuses on books of local interest.
Held on Ottawa Street, the event also hopes to give a boost to the many local businesses on the street, as well as an industry that took a hit during the pandemic. With stores closed, many publishers didn’t have a place to sell books and had to adapt to a digital world. Writers, like many involved in the Book Crawl, increasingly turned to self-publishing, which can bring a book to market much faster; but can minimize distribution channels and support systems, particularly to new writers.
With so many writers present in one location, the Book Crawl encourages aspiring writers to attend and connect with others in the industry. Those who are involved in the industry in other disciplines, including publishers, illustrators and editors are also encouraged to attend and network. For the general public, it’s an opportunity to find a new favourite book and support local writers and businesses.