Clunes Booktown Festival 2017

May 6-7, 2017

A message from the Chair – Tim Nolan

Having just returned from the 2016 International Organisation of Booktowns Conference in Switzerland, we’re filled with mountain air and  the sound of echoes resounding off hillsides. So “For the Love of Books!” is one of those themes that is meant to be shouted into open spaces and to come bouncing back. And each echo adds an extra layer of meaning to the fundamental ethos of our banner-call.

“For the Love of Books!”

When I was in Year 8 I was sent to the library for detention and told to write something. I can’t remember if I was given a theme or not, but I wrote about the library itself, and specifically about the books on the shelves. I reimagined each book as a tiny homunculus representing the author. There were eight tiny Wilbur Smiths tall and squashed into a line; books that had multiple authors looked like totem poles, with authors sitting on top of each other; the library was a space teeming with human effort. This way of seeing libraries and bookshops has never left me. They are the repository of millions of hours of dedicated effort, so the 2017 Booktown Festival is a celebration of the books themselves. They are gorgeous artefacts, amazing windows into new worlds, past, present, future and imaginary. They are storehouses of history, creativity, story, thoughts, emotions and meaning. The town will be curated to celebrate different styles of book in different spaces, and visitors, booksellers and authors will have the chance to enjoy them at their best.

“For the love of the people who love books!”  The people who come to Clunes for the Festival are readers, so it’s a chance to meet likeminded book-lovers and share a coffee with a new friend who has just given you the tip that will begin your next reading journey. It also means that sixty of the best booksellers in Victoria come together for a weekend and share their love of books with each other. I and others involved in Clunes Booktown, and many of the people in the Booktown movement all around the world, have worked in bookstores, and almost all the booksellers and buyers that I’ve ever met have an extraordinarily deep passion for books. They love them and we want to celebrate them by giving over our town to them for a weekend.

“For the love of the people who make books!” We know that the idea of the isolated writer slaving in her writing room is one part fact and ten parts fiction. It takes a team to get a fully realised book out into the hands of readers. Anyone who has ever been impacted by the smell of a book, or the feel of good quality paper, or the look of a page where someone has done something remarkable with the white space, or simply judged a book by the stunning design on its cover – you know the value of the people who make books. We celebrate these writers, artists, editors, designers, illustrators, binders, printers and publishers through workshops and exhibitions.

“For the love of what books can do!” Clunes Booktown has a wonderful history of bringing outstanding authors, but also significant public intellectuals – social and political leaders. Last year we hosted Anna Bligh and Richard Frankland. Previously we’ve hosted Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Julian Burnside, Tim Fischer, Henry Reynolds and Geoffrey Blainey. We celebrate the power of books to deliver ideas that change the way we see ourselves, our history and our cultural landscape.

“For the love of books in this place!” We have a remarkable heritage streetscape, the slow country feel of a small town that is still very much connected to community, creativity, personal experiences and the seasons, and the Festival takes place in Autumn, when Clunes is arguably at its best. Crisp mornings and cool clear afternoons give way to lingering evenings that lend themselves to long chats, good food and wine, and a night with a book.