5th Annual Detroit Book Festival Draws Large Crowds to East Market

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Hundreds of people pulled out their favorite tote bags with geeky sayings like “I love books” for a Sunday hunt for new and used books to read or vintage records at Detroit’s Oriental Market.

The 5th Annual Detroit Book Festival featured over 60 vendors and a variety of genres, ranging from horror, poetry and comics. Other vendors at Shed 5 included East Market regulars selling body butters, Detroit-inspired graphic tees and jewelry.

Renowned Detroit used book seller John K. King Books, one of the event’s sponsors, was in the house, showcasing a variety of books. Buyers could buy from sellers specializing in Stephen King paperback and hardcover novels.

Customers had the chance to meet authors from all walks of life. Former Detroit police officer turned author, Antoinette M. James, presented her first book, “Behind the Badge: Her Story.”

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The book follows the Ypsilanti native’s career as a Detroit cop while juggling her personal life. James graduated from the Detroit Police Academy in the spring of 2002 at the age of 31. After graduation, she was recruited as an undercover prostitution lure and then her career branched out into other areas of business.

“I dreamed about it as a kid that I wanted to be an undertaker or a homicide detective in Detroit. I was about 10 or 12,” James said. “I moved to Detroit with my three daughters, who were then 5, 9, and 11. Instead of becoming an undertaker, I was an autopsy technician for the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.”

Fifteen years ago, James had the idea for the book 15 years ago, but it wasn’t released until June 2021. Now 53, she’s been on a mission through pop-up events and book signings to bring his story to the masses.

“I also do workshops with women, because I realized in ‘Her Story’ that there are other women who die not telling their story, who struggle or suffer from being silent,” said she declared. “I want to give women back their voice to tell their story so they can find me on social media, ask me to come to an event or do things like that.”

His paperback is available on Amazon for $20.

Brittany Hannah, 32 from Detroit, found out about the event on Facebook and her sister who frequently shops at the Eastern Market.

“I’m just a history buff,” Hannah said. “I found a book about black Americans in France like at the beginning of this century…the 1900s.”

Her next score was going to be scouring the vinyl record sections, she recently bought a record player and was looking for 70s era R&B jams.

“They look authentic from that era,” she said. “I’ll probably end up spending a lot of money.”

Meagan Rupert, a teacher from Airport Community Schools in Carleton, along with a few other colleagues, came to not only find personal favorites, but also to find books for the classrooms.

“We have used books and musical stuff,” Rupert said.

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It was their first participation and Rupert says she enjoyed it.

Children were able to create their own book for free thanks to Arts and Scraps, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating artwork from recycled materials.

The first Detroit Bookfest was held on July 16, 2017 by founder Ryan M. Place at Eastern Market.

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