Amina Marix Evans has worked across a broad range of book-related roles, within libraries, bookshops and publishing companies and freelance as an agent, translator and editor.
In 2001, she set up Borderline Books in the Netherlands, an organisation she brought to England in 2006, where it was welcomed with open arms. It has since redistributed over 60,000 books to the UK’s bookless. In 2015, she established The Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library in Newcastle.
The Kittiwake Trust – LBF’s 2018 Charity of the Year – encompasses the work of Borderline Books and the Kittiwake Trust Multilingual Library. Since retiring as an agent, Amina has volunteered full time for the charity in all its guises and is always looking for new ways to develop its projects, reach more people and promote literacy.
What’s next on your reading list?
The Beginner’s Goodbye, A Spool of Blue Thread, Vinegar Girl, Clock Dance – I am a bit behind on my Anne Tyler reading.
Tell us what you do in 20 words.
I give books to the bookless, words to the wordless. I aim to make peace, if not love.
What is the one thing about your company that we need to know?
I think I’m good company.
What do you like about your job?
It’s not a job, it’s what I do. I do it to live, not for a living.
Which is your favourite bookshop or e-bookstore and why?
Borderline Books – it’s not a bookshop because the books are free. The stock changes daily. We meet wonderful people because it exists. We make lots of people happy.
What was your first job?
Library secretary at the Institute of Race Relations.
What is the silliest thing you have on your desk?
Folding hoof-pick (not silly if I had a horse – or if I was a horse).
Tell us about a passion you have outside the business.
There’s an outside?
Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
My first boss, Siva (A. Sivanandan), who read poetry to us in the office, raged at injustice, taught us to flex our heart muscles, taught me to seek the spiritual in the political and the political in the spiritual and to find the still point in the turning world. And without whom, none of this…
When was your first London Book Fair?
Probably 1978 or 1979. It was in a hotel near Park Lane the week before Frankfurt . Lots of foreign publishers liked to come to London before going to Germany so it was a win-win situation.
What is your prediction for the year ahead in the publishing industry?
Books will be published.
What piece of advice would you give first-timers at the Fair?
Look where you’re going, not at your phone, and don’t wear silly shoes.
Ahead of The London Book Fair 2019, we are looking for our next Charity of the Year. Nominate a deserving charity you work for, or admire, here.