About Jozi Book Fair

The Jozi Book Fair addresses the weak culture of reading and writing in all South Africa’s languages, that reflect the legacies of apartheid and continuing social inequality in this country. The Jozi Book Fair (JBF) creates readers and writers in all South Africa’s languages, to promote mother tongue and to use all art forms to encourage people of all ages to read the word and the world and to exercise their social agency.

Aims of the Jozi Book Fair

The objective of the JBF is to provide a public platform for key social partners to promote a culture of reading and writing. These social partners are:

  • Readers in the form of the general public and specific constituencies within this broad public;
  • Writers, in particular emerging new writers from specific constituencies;
  • Publishers, in particular self-publishers, and small and emerging publishers and
  • NGOs engaged in publishing, social issues, freedom of expression and advocacy, and whose work also promotes ‘the word’.

The creation of a common meeting space for all partners is crucial to strengthening small publishers, creating a market for writers, and creating an opportunity for readers to signal to authors and publishers the kinds of stories they are interested in.

The JBF’s overall purpose is therefore to create an ongoing cycle where partners can reinforce each other and create a strong reading and writing culture in all South Africa’s languages.

The specific objectives of the Jozi Book Fair project are to:

  • Develop a reading and writing culture among the broader public, and poor and working class communities;
  • Promote indigenous language publishing; and
  • Provide space for self-publishers and progressive publishers to showcase their work;
  • Rebuild a network of progressive publishers in the South and Southern Africa;
  • Profile and promote the emergence of new writers, especially those who are generally marginalized, and non-mainstream writers and publications;
  • Stimulate publishing within social movements and NGOs;
  • Stimulate and encourage publishing by women, and promote a publishing movement that promotes a gender and feminist movement;
  • Provide information about publishing opportunities to stimulate new publishing initiatives;
  • Develop an alternative book trade and translations.


The JBF runs a number of projectsgramme throughout the year to create readers and writers and support affordable publishing and printing. All the constituencies the JBF Projects converge at the annual Festival in September, where, together with the public they showcase their work.

The JBF Projects includes thenamely Children’s Programme or Poetry Buddies, based in 13 with the Orphan and Vulnerable Centres (OVCs) in townships which catering for children between the ages of 6 – 12. The Tsohang Batja (Arise Youth) encourages school youth , Youth Programme (Tshohang Batjha) which caters for youth between the ages 13 – 18 to read and to write. The JBF also runs The JBF , Readers Programme and Writers Projects promotes reading and writing with out of school youth, workers and adultsgramme. The JBF Publishing, JoziPrinting and JoziBookShop encourages small publishers, indigenous language publishers and self- publishers to print their work accessibly and to make books affordable to everyone, especially working people. [For more information on JBF Projects click]

Annual JBF Festival

TSee JBF Programme on a separate tab for more information. At the end of the year, the different constituencies meet at this year’s e Annual Jozi Book Fair Festival .

The Festival takes place from 30August to 2September over four days and is FREE to all members of the public. The JBF’s constituencies together with the public are encouraged to host events at the Festival and over the past 5 years, between 50-60% are events are hosted by the public. There are no ‘gate-keepers’, the Festival’s content is shaped ‘from below’ and the programme is curated by the public.

The Festival Exhibitors – publishers and non-governmental organisations – showcase their work and sell books affordably. The Festival promotes reading and writing in all South Africa’s languages and especially indigenous languages and mother tongues; promotes access and exposure to all the arts. The Programme includes: a Schools Programme (Thursday and Friday), a Children’s Programme (Saturday and Sunday) and a General Programme for the Public ,(Saturday and Sunday) that includes Literature, Book launches and conversations with authors, Film, Poetry, Theatre, Visual Arts, Roundtable discussions on topical issues, seminars and skills workshops related to ‘the word’. [For more information about the JBF Festival click here.] and supports affordable printing to make books accessible and affordable.

The JBF promotes citizenship and tolerance amongst people of all ages and all walks of life. The Festival is also distinctive in that it reflects South Africa’s demography and is one of the few spaces where people from all walks of life engage and enjoy each other’s company. ; and 70% of the Festival’s (120) events are hosted by the public. The festival is curated ‘from below’. The JBF is a project of Khanya College.

JBF 2017

Last year the 2017 Fair was a great success, bringing together different constituencies, children, youth and the public from all walks of life. The people that attended and participated spoke directly to the theme of the Fair and its orientation.

Besides the participating schools at the Schools Programme that were part of the Schools Progamme, 6000 children, youth and adults attended the Fair’s diverse programme of 122 activities, 70% of which wasere hosted by the public and exhibitors.

The Fair has become an educational and cultural festival that includes a broad range of events and activities. Forty- five (45) NGOs and publishers exhibited at the fair, including large publishers. All published confirmed great book sales, indicating a developing

The JBF encourages publishers to sell books affordably at the Fair to develop a book-buying culture of affordable books. and importantly, all publishers confirmed increases in their book sales.

Background & History

In recognition of the importance of a strong culture of reading and writing to meet the various challenges of post-apartheid South Africa, Khanya College hosted the first edition of the Jozi Book Fair in 2009. The JBF provides a public and visible platform to take up the challenges of creating a reading and writing culture.

Some of the major challenges facing post- apartheid South Africa are social inequality, poverty, unemployment, skills development and the generalised improvement in the quality of life for communities. Generic skills are especially low amongst working people, and this impacts on their daily ability to exercise their social agency and their citizenship. These and other challenges can be linked to a weak culture of reading and writing.

For instance:

  • Most black households do not have books in their homes; libraries at schools and in; communities are few; book shops in townships are few and books expensive.
  • Few people read during their free time, and many do not recognise reading as important outside of school.

Despite its importance to the country’s development, Johannesburg and Gauteng had no significant and visible book fair that links South Africa’s book trade – especially historically disadvantaged publishers to Africa and the world. The JBF sought to take up this challenge.

Since 2009, the JBF has become a fair with a difference: the fair creates readers and writers from amongst working class constituencies and the public; and supports self publishers and small and indigenous language publishers to publish books affordably and accessibly.

The JBF platform reflects a growing and deepening educational and cultural movement. This year Khanya College celebrates its 30th anniversary and the JBF builds on this history of direct involvement in organising educational and cultural festivals, publishing educational materials and popular books; providing platforms for debates and discussion and assisting in the development of social justice movements and civil society.

The JBF is a platform for dialogue, debate and tolerance. Through the JBF the College seeks to contribute positively to the challenges facing South Africa and Southern Africa.