Still Rocking at 60: Bologna Children’s Book Fair!
The 60th Bologna Children’s Book Fair along with BolognaBookPlus and Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids was successfully held from March 6-9, 2023. The 61st edition of the fair returns on 8-11 April 2024.
The 60th Bologna Children’s Book Fair witnessed 28,894 professionals, 1456 exhibitors from 90 countries. There were 325 live events in the four days of the event. The BCBF platform had more than 2 million website views, 200,000 unique users out of which 60% were global. Around 60,000 users registered for the online services, Facebook and Instagram had respectively, 80,000 (+23%) and 90,000 (+23%) followers, while LinkedIn attracted 10,000 followers (+41%). 800 illustrators, from 70 countries and regions around the world presented their work on the Virtual Illustrators Wall on screens positioned at the event. The 13th Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Fundación SM International Award for Illustration was given to Italian illustrator Andrea Antinori.
Shared Elena Pasoli, Director of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, “The journey which started in1964 as a friendship between the book community and the city has led to a fabulous book fair. The BCBF has grown continuously, developed countless new projects and opened up to other worlds nurturing creativity of the spirit which has distinguished it from the very beginning. The fair seeks to renew and keep alive the liveliness and determination. With passion and pride, we have created a network of initiatives ranging from Bologna to Shanghai, children’s books licensing and, our most recent initiative- BolognaBookPlus, serving general trade publishing. We still rock at 60.”
Greece as inaugural Market of Honor in BolognaBookPlus2023
Nicholas Yatromanolakis, Greek Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports stated that they were excited that Greece had a chance to showcase its literary wealth and vibrant book community during the BolognaBookPlus honoring 2500 years of storytelling.
The Greek pavilion had a varied range of titles and genres. A total of 64 publishers participated in Bologna Children’s Book Fair and 63 in the BolognaBookPlus.
Greece’s participation in the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and in BolognaBooksPlus was depicted by a logo created by Thessaloniki-based Beetroot Design Group, inspired by Greek cultural heritage, knowledge and wisdom. It depicts an owl, wise but also curious, eager to learn. The owl appears to be standing on an open book – or, from a different perspective, standing in front of an open book, reading. The versatility of the logo and its different iterations enable it to function both for the children’s section of the Bologna Book Fair and the general trade section of BBPlus.
Guest Director Jacks Thomas BolognaBookPlus, said, “BolognaBookPlus 2023 was energetic! Great exhibitors, our first AIE pavilion of Italian publishers, a FICCI catalogue and seminar with excellent participation from India, fabulous speakers for full conferences and seminars plus – our inaugural Market of Honour which was Greece.” The Greek Market of Honour programme was rich, informative and vibrant and a wonderful opportunity to see everything that this cool, stylish market has to offer the global publishing world. With over 60 publishers, 10 authors and two illustrators there was so much to engage with – whether it was hearing more about the GreekLit Translation Grant or listening to the amazing authors or enjoying the children’s illustration exhibition or the Jacket Design Best of the Best competition for general publishing – there was truly something for everyone. All-in-all having the chance to see the contemporary Greek book market in detail as well as a great BolognaBookPlus 2023 programme was a joy, added Jacks.
Each day was marked with different sessions at the BBPlus theatre, Illustrators café with the Folio society, Licencing Conference room, Comic Event programme, Spotlight on Africa, Translators Café, Celebrating women in publishing by PublisHer on International’s Women’s Day. The 61st edition of the fair returns on 8-11 April 2024.
Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year was awarded to Wonder House Books (India) who have been selected as the winner from Asia. An imprint of Prakash Books India Pvt. Ltd, India’s largest book distributor, Wonder House begun activities in 2017 with a mission to develop children’s passion for reading.“It was a pleasure to be recognized by the peers and for an Indian company to come on international platform and win conclusively is a testimony to what we can publish out of India and send around the world. It is also testament to the good team we were able to put together to achieve it,” said Gaurav Sabharwal, Director, Prakash Books India.
The other winners who were felicitated included:Africa: Trinta zero Nove (Mozambique), Caribbean, Central and South America: Editorial Amanuta (Chile), Europe: The Old Lion (Ukraine), North America: La courteéchelle (Canada), and Oceania: Magabala Books (Australia).
Indian Content Going Global
FICCI with BolognaBookPlus organised a seminar and launched the FICCI’s Rights Catalogue during the Bologna Children’s Book fair. The panel discussed – Indian Content Going Global. This was moderated by Sumeet Gupta-Assistant Secretary General FICCI, the speakers were Ajay Mago -Publisher Om Books international, Mudit Mohini- Director Vishv Books, Prashant Pathak- Publisher Wonder House Books and Richa Jha -Founder and Publisher Pickle York Books.
The panel discussed global trends, opportunities, genres, strategies to reach the audience, challenges, role of technology to make Indian content available globally. In terms of global trends Richa Jha felt that picture books and biographies were doing well. She mentioned that is an opportunity to reach out to young readers with content that enriches their mind in many ways and explore new topics which lead to enhancement of their imaginations and understanding. While, Ajay Mago felt that their list was strong in mythology, books on activity, science, geography, he further added there is tremendous room for growth and felt that big publishers are venturing into the children book space.
Mudit Mohini said the current trends are on inclusivity of content, mythology being a highlight again. She felt that opportunities were on early learning, picture-based books, and fiction books which are based on feelings and family skills for children. The non-fiction books for children of the age between 7 and 14 which are trending are based on environmental themes.
On challenges, Prashant Pathak felt that in many areas India is seen as a service provider, to which Mudit added that one needs to break the taboo of being an Indian publisher. The panel felt that technology is playing a very important role, they shared that audio books are on the boom and technology has led to books being transformed so that it enables a very immersive, cinematic and therapeutic feel for the reader. Prashant emphasised that content should be made available in all formats and to reach international markets, they preferred the co-publishing route.
While Sumeet Gupta, shares, “Indian books have found an audience all over the world. With the advent of digital platforms, readers can access content from India and vice versa. Indian books are being translated into multiple languages and sold all over the world. This has resulted in Indian authors receiving international recognition. Many Indian books are now topping the charts in various countries, providing unique insight and perspective to readers across the globe. The success of Indian books also highlights the potential of the nation’s literature, which is rapidly gaining global recognition.” Together they all agreed Indian content is definitely on the rise.