“There are other art book fairs around the world, in places like New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Philadelphia,” says the NGV’s publications coordinator Megan Patty. “But there’s never been one in Australia, and Melbourne is perfect for it.”

The NGV’s Art Book Fair will bring together, for the first time, more than 50 stallholders, including emerging and established publishers, writers, artists and designers. Here are six things to look out for over the weekend.

The NGV’s Great Hall has been decked out in cardboard.
Stepping into the NGV’s Great Hall this weekend will be a design experience in itself. The space has been re-imagined as a vast cardboard bookstore by Melbourne cardboard architect Tobias Horrocks of Fold Theory.

Printed Matter’s stand
Printed Matter isn’t just a renowned art bookstore in New York – it’s the art bookstore in New York. It often works closely with artists to publish their work, and it happens to curate the fair’s American equivalents in New York and Los Angeles. “They’ve put together an incredible selection of books you just can not get in Australia,” says Patty, “including beautiful short-run editions and artist-made books.”

Coffee and doughnuts from Tivoli Road Bakery Break time? South Yarra’s Tivoli Road Bakery is supplying salted-caramel, lemon-curd and strawberry-jam doughnuts and coffee.

The launch of Painting is a Critical Form, by Helen Johnson
“3-Ply is a very interesting independent publisher here in Melbourne and it has produced some of the most beautiful small-run books in Australia,” says Patty. This one is a critical response to the paintings of Juan Davila and Martin Kippenberger, so it’s a little bit of art theory, but heavily illustrated as well. It’s launching on Saturday afternoon at 2.30pm.

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Talk: DIY publishing
“If you’ve ever wondered about small-press publishing, this is the talk to go to,” says Patty. Lloyd Stubber (Bloom) and photographer Emma Philips go into the whys, wherefores, dos and don’ts of going it alone on Saturday afternoon at 3.30pm.

Jess Johnson’s Bloodfins and Whipwurm launch
Melbourne-based artist Jess Johnson is just one of the five artists picked by the NGV to publish a book specifically for the Art Book Fair. You may know Johnson’s beautifully vivid illustrations from her eye-grabbing work at Melbourne Now and Sydney’s Vivid festival. The book published for the art book fair is her first, and it’ll be launching on Sunday morning at 10.30pm. “They’re limited edition and hand-numbered,” says Patty, “and there are only 200, so get in quick.”

The Melbourne Art Book Fair launches on Friday night with a Preview Party from 6pm to 10pm featuring a line-up of DJs and artists including HTRK’s Jonnine Standish, DJ Laila Sakini, multimedia artist Darren Sylvester and artist and DJ Nick Selenitsch. Tickets are $20.

The Melbourne Art Book Fair program runs from May 2 to 3 and is free to attend. Visit here for a full list of events over the weekend.

We’re giving away 10 double passes to the Melbourne Art Book Fair Preview Party, including an artist book from Japanese publisher He He, an NGV Art Book Fair tote bag and a free drink each. To win, email us at win@broadsheet.com.au with “Art Book Fair” in the subject line.