The Festival takes place over four days and is FREE to all members of the public.
The Festival promotes reading and writing in all South Africa’s languages especially indigenous   languages and mother tongues; promotes access and exposure to all the arts, 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 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

JBF 2016 Guests of the fair

JBF 2016

Last year the 2016 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 schools that were part of the Schools Progamme, 6000 children, youth and adults attended the Fair’s diverse programme of 120 activities, 70% of which were 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 like Pearson South Africa, Wits University Press, National Library of South Africa, and Amnesty International.

The JBF encourages publishers to sell books affordably at the Fair to develop a book-buying culture 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.

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, and

• Publishers, in particular self-publishers, and small and emerging publishers.

• 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     marginalised, 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.