Honouring publishers for their innovation in creative nature of their editorial choices…

Emma House brings information on TUTI books and Oratia Media, winners of Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year.


On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the BOP – Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year, organized by the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and AIE – Italian Publishers Association in partnership with IPA – International Publishers Association, awarded publishers who have most distinguished themselves for their professional and intellectual skills in each of the six areas of the world: Africa, Central and South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. At the same time, the prize is designed to foster a mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas among different countries, areas, and cultural identities across the world.

The 202I BOP winners include: Africa: Mkuki na Nyota, Tanzania; Asia: TUTI Books, Iran; Central/South America: Tragaluz Editores, Colombia; Europe: La Joie de Lire, Switzerland; North America: Levine Querido, USA; and Oceania: Oratia Media, New Zealand.

Here, Emma House brings more information about two award-winning publishers – TUTI Books and Oratia Media.

TUTI Books…

TUTI is the Persian word for “Parrot”; a bird that is rooted deeply in Iranian literature and is known for uttering fascinating stories. Run by its director, Sahar Tarhandeh, TUTI Books (which is the children and YA books division at Fatemi Publishing Co.) is based in Tehran, Iran and is among a handful of publishes in Iran who are active in this field. and is solely dedicated to publishing high-quality content for children and young adults across the world. TUTI has won several prestigious awards for its titles and has been able to make a great connection with its readers.

TUTI’s content and quality: TUTI’s endeavours in this regard are backed by Iran’s rich history of culture and literature, which has always had a tremendous amount to offer. TUTI’s mission extends to introducing world literature to Iranian children and young adults, reflected in their actions of searching for and acquiring the rights to titles from all over the world, further tightening cultural ties between nations. Among Iranian publishers, when publishing translated titles, TUTI is among the handful of houses that – in the absence of copyright laws – is committed to publishing books by respecting the rights of international publishers. They have acquired several titles from credible international publishers and are also working on creating several original titles, which will be published within the next few months or next year.

The first and main criteria when publishing a book by TUTI is the artistic quality of the illustrations and a well-written story. The artistic quality of the illustrations, well-written text, and preferably employing universal themes, to which children from any part of the world can connect. Also, TUTI Books always tries to include subjects like disability, preserving nature in its editorial choices.

Impact of the pandemic: When it comes to the impact of the pandemic, just like every other country, remote working during the early months of the pandemic made it very difficult to coordinate and move daily tasks forward. The bookstores, schools, and libraries were closed, and so the publishing and distribution of books was hugely challenging, saved only by the use of digital. As the Covid situation improves, they are trying to publish more books in a timely manner.

About the Bologna Children’s Book fair and the prize: The Bologna Book Fair is by far the biggest and best platform that makes it possible for children’s and young adults’ publishers to gather around and provide each other with brilliant books. TUTI Books has always made sure to participate in the fair and present its titles, along with looking for quality titles to bring back and publish within Iran. Sahar Tarhandeh, notes, “This year, we were honoured to win the BOP Best Publisher of the Year Award in Asia. We are glad that TUTI’s efforts in creating high-quality content has been recognized in this scale and it pushes us further to keep making greater books. Considering the difficulties we deal with in Iran, whether it be the absence of international copyright laws, financial sanctions, or the unstable economy and currency value, we are glad that TUTI’s endeavours are being acknowledged through various awards and recognitions. The BOP award is the latest and probably the most important one. Being recognized in the Bologna Book Fair indicates that we are in the right path and gives TUTI Books incentive to continue creating high-quality titles for children and young adults.”

Oratia Media…

Oratia is a publishing house firmly grounded in a corner of Aotearoa New Zealand, and is fully committed to the bicultural nation, yet really internationalist in outlook. From its origins providing publishing services to clients in New Zealand, Japan, the UK and Italy, the company has been multicultural and multilingual, believing that writers here can engage with readers in any part of the world, and that culture or language should not be a barrier to communication. That transfers to rights buying, where they look for distinctive content that may not be in English yet. Local books are increasingly bilingual, supporting the ongoing richness and viability of Mãori language.

Oratia’s content and quality: Oratia publishes a small list, with up to eight children’s books a year, meaning they are selective in what gets published. They look for the very best writing that engages, amuses, and educates children, and seek to make books that represent children’s lives here while being accessible internationally. Humour and pushing the boundaries a little is key (the international success of Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird’s Bum series is testament to that!). Then of course ensuring a project is viable on a first print run in a market of 5 million people, means that commercial viability is unavoidable criteria.

Impact of pandemic: New Zealand’s initial nationwide lockdown in April 2020 caused almost no sales. Since then, thanks to the absence of Covid-19 in the community, they’ve been able to operate business as usual, largely, and in fact most NZ trade publishers have enjoyed decent sales growth. The team all work from home anyway so there’s been no disruption to the normal pattern of business there. Inability to travel internationally and the cancellation of physical fairs has had a major impact, though — not being able to attend a physical BOP Prize ceremony, and with most virtual fair events taking place in the middle of the night NZ time. “Another strong list of picture books, many bilingual in English and Mãori , alongside more additions to our non-fiction titles for YA readers in The NZ Series. Plans are advancing to publish more stories from the South Pacific and work in the languages of Polynesia,” they say.

About the Bologna Book Fair: “It’s a very special gathering that retains a lovely human dimension despite the time and business pressures inherent in trade fairs. Elena Pasoli and her team have really moved mountains to keep the fair relevant during the pandemic, and it’ll be a fine day when the world of children’s publishing can gather again in Bologna. The Publishers Association of New Zealand has had a collective stand in the past few years and we hope to build further on that platform, which makes it possible for more of us to get to Italy from the other side of the world,” says Peter Dowling, Publisher.

“To win the BOP Prize is a real plaudit for the Oratia team, and especially our children’s authors and illustrators. At a time when we’re unable to travel to meet international publishing friends, the prize helps maintain connections and keep our profile high. All in all, a cause for much mid-winter celebration!” concludes Peter.

Emma House is an international publishing consultant based in the UK. Her previous roles included Deputy CEO of the Publishers Association UK and Head of International Development at the London Book Fair

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