By many measures, the art-book industry is booming, and this year’s attendance numbers for the New York Art Book Fair are a key part of that story. According to Printed Matter, which runs the fair, a total of 35,000 people visited the event at MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York, last week, to enjoy loud music, beer, art installations, and books. It was a sweaty, jam-packed affair. For its sixth year at the museum, the fair had more exhibitors than ever before, with 370 booksellers, distribution companies, zines, and artist-run publishing houses from 30 countries.
As the graph above shows, attendance has exploded for the event over the past ten years, though this year’s visitor total matched 2014’s, which can perhaps be explained by the fact that 2015 marked the first time that the fair’s opening wasn’t free. Though it’s hard to blame Printed Matter for deciding to charge, given how crowded the event has become. An hour before the opening on Thursday night, the fair already had lines out the door, with people waiting to spend $10 to get into the otherwise free fair.
One imagines those crowds are here to say. As the editor-in-chief of The Third Rail told John Chiaverina at the opening, “Last year’s New York Art Book Fair broke the attendance record for MoMA PS1, and people are all coming out for print.”