• Monday, July 22, 2024

Bologna Book Fair Commences its 60th Rendition

It's fantastic to get back to practically normal, said Philippe Werck, publisher and CEO of Clavis in Belgium, who is at his 37th Bologna market.
on Mar 07, 2023
Bologna Book Fair

Yesterday marked the start of the 60th Bologna Children's Book Fair, which attracted 1,400 exhibitors from 90 different nations and regions, a 25% increase from the year before the pandemic in 2019. The Bologna Licensing Trade Fair and BolognaBookPlus, an extension of the show devoted to general commerce publishing, are also taking place in addition to the children's programmes.

Publishers appear even more excited to attend this year, despite the fair having returned in person in 2022, as Covid apprehension begins to subside. Many happy reunions are taking place in the hallways—there is more embracing and less elbow-bumping.

Lori Benton, vice president and group publisher at Scholastic, told a media outlet, "It feels like we were just here. It's so thrilling to be back, and it perfectly combines the exciting and the familiar. And simply being back in Bologna is like running into an old friend.

Some books also exhibit such vitality. Paula Wiseman, vice president and publisher of Paula Wiseman Books at Simon & Schuster, stated, "I've only had five appointments, but I already feel like there's a delight in the books I see—bright colours, a natural brightness. People seem to desire to be content.

"The big trend for us is that we are seeing a need for more self-help books for children on topics like mindfulness and time and anger management. I think the pandemic played a big role in putting a spotlight on mental health." Wonder House will begin distributing its titles through IPG in the U.S. in June. Pathak cited high demand for boxed-set editions of books focused on simple subjects, such as learning the alphabet and numbers. "Library sales have already begun, and we had an order of 1,400 copies of our books from the California state library system."

Tamer Said, publisher of Kalimat Books from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, said the company's strategy for publishing internationally is paying off. 

"We actively wanted to collaborate with and recruit the greatest international artists when we first began visiting Bologna more than ten years ago. By doing this, we were able to establish partnerships with Arabic authors and foreign illustrators. Now that our works have a distinctive, global look, publishers from all over the world are buying the rights. This cultural blending and integration have been a big success for us, he added. The market is expanding as well because readers worldwide are getting more familiar with Arabic culture and seeing the topics in our novels as universal.

It's fantastic to get back to practically normal, said Philippe Werck, publisher and CEO of Clavis in Belgium, who is at his 37th Bologna market. Although I'm aware of how much has changed in this area over the years, I'm glad the fair is still centred on actual books. Werck claimed that Covid helped Clavis sell more books because, like in other nations, parents were eager to buy books to occupy their kids during the lockdown. He stated that sales are remaining stable.

Clavis is getting ready to launch a Mandarin edition of its Key Colors Competition for up-and-coming authors and artists as part of its mission to find fresh talent. The competition, which has been held in several foreign markets since 1996 and in the U.S. since 2021, was developed to provide promising artists with publishing opportunities. 

The Dream Academy, a training programme for authors of children's books, has also been launched by Clavis. The two-day workshop, which is being held in person at Clavis's offices in Belgium, gives individual criticism and instruction to a group of eight authors and eight artists, according to editor Greet Poelmans.

Andre Breedt, managing director of Nielsen BookData, gave a presentation on global markets that included an overview of book sales from South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Greece. One of the most striking findings was a change in Y.A. book sales in the U.K. from preschool and picture books. Breedt remarked, "While I would rather not guess, I think, generally speaking, this is a result of the product mix that is now offered in stores. He mentioned that TikTok has also had an impact on book sales, particularly romance novels purchased by women under the age of 35. According to Breedt, "they have spent 39 million pounds on TikTok books," or publications that contain references to TikTok in their metadata.

Children's books account for 17% of all book sales in Italy, making it one of the most significant segments of the industry. In all, 8,850 children's books and 2,101 e-books were published in Italy last year. 268.4 million euros in total sales were based on cover price in 2022, a decrease of 3.7% from 2021 but an increase of 12.8% from 2019. 

Children's books are even more significant when it comes to rights sales in Italy, accounting for a third of all rights sales in 2022 and totalling 2,812 volumes. Children's books and the rights sold for them are essential to Italian publishing's efforts to take a worldwide perspective.

Bruno Giancarli stated during a presentation as part of the BolognaBookPlus event on Monday morning that an increase in co-editions is a sign that interest in Italian literature is also increasing.

The possibility of a demographic crash, in which the number of Italian children falls sharply in the next years, is one worry shared by Italian publishers. In the last ten years, we have already lost a million children between the ages of 0 and 14, according to Giancarli. Japan is the only country where conditions are worse.

There are four Harry Potter novels and two Wimpy Kid books among the top 10 children's books in Italy that are translations, as one might assume.

In 2022, the top 10 children's books by Italian authors will look quite different. Giancarli stated, "Eight of the top 10 are by YouTube stars. It is probably because they are simple to spot in the bookstore. The 11th most popular book of 2022 was also special: La Luna di Kiev by Gianni Rodari, from Einaudi's backlist, with all proceeds going to the Italian Red Cross, which funded relief operations in Ukraine. The BCBF is honouring Rodari's 100th birthday (which occurred in 2020, at the height of the epidemic) with an exhibition of original paintings by 21 Italian illustrators, including modern artists Bruno Munari and Emanuele Luzzati.

What could be better than early spring in Bologna, said Jack Jensen, president of the McEvoy Group, to capture the positive atmosphere? Nobody is complaining about the books not selling at the fair; instead, everyone is having a good time and is smiling.

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