Italy in China: Bologna Children’s Book Fair Co-Organizes Shanghai’s Fair

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The China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair opens Friday under new production arrangements–after Reed’s departure–with BolognaFiere as a co-organizer.

At the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair 2017. Image: CCBF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Some 350 Exhibitors Expected This Week
In its new role as co-organizer of the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has announced that some of its content is traveling to the Asian event this week.

Shanghai’s fair is a weekend event, opening Friday and running through Sunday (November 9 through 11). The show bills itself as “the only fair in the Asia Pacific region entirely dedicated to books and contents for children and young adults” aged 16 and younger–although organizers of September’s ninth annual Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore might appreciate a cordial nod in this regard.

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, it was announced in December that Reed Exhibitions Greater China was ending its five-year management arrangement with the Shanghai event. BolognaFiere, operator of the iconic annual Italian event, has become become a key organizing partner, among several.

The organizers’ group describes a fair “powered by BolognaFiere” and comprising as co-organizers:

  • Press Publication Administration
  • Shanghai Press and Publication Administration
  • China Education Publishing and Media Group Ltd.
  • China Universal Press and Publication Co. Ltd.
  • Ronbo BolognaFiere (Shanghai) Ltd.

In 2017, the Shanghai Book Fair reported that it had hosted 360 exhibitors from 51 countries and regions, administrators say, and those figures were up from 154 exhibitors and 15 countries and regions in 2013, when the fair was inaugurated.

This year, Bologna reports that more than 350 domestic and foreign exhibitors from 25 countries are expected to participate. This includes a reported 160 international exhibitors, which BolognaFiere says is “more than double the previous 79.” In terms of participation, some 40 countries and regions are engaged, while more than 30,000 visitors are anticipated.

“The fair,” BolognaFiere tells news media, “will focus on children’s books, ebooks, animation games, audio and video content, digital products, newspapers, magazines, intellectual development, teaching references, stationery, [and] publishing related copyright products,” while promoting “copyright trades, channel expansions, product  wholesale ordering and professional exchanges.”

The company also says that participation is anticipated from nine international book publishers which have won the Bologna Prize for Best Children’s Publishers of the Year in the past, including:

  • Planeta Tangerina (Portugal)
  • Tara Books (India)
  • Petra Ediciones (Mexico)
  • Corraini Edizioni (Italy)
  • Grimm Press (Taiwan)
  • Albur Producciones Editoriales (Spain)
  • Kalimat (United Arab Emirates )
  • One Tree House (New Zealand)
  • 21st Century Publishing (China)

In addition, “Exhibitors coming to China for the first time in the Asia Pacific New Entry Lounge,” Bologna’s statement reads, “include Bear Books (Korea), Sekaibunka Publishing (Japan), Tulika Publishers (India) and Sasbadi Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia).”

Exhibitors coming to China for the first time in the Strega Prize Lounge, the Bologna information says, are Albe Edizioni (Italy), Bompiani (Italy), and DeA Planeta Libri (Italy).

At the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair 2017. Image: CCBF

Programming Elements

There are five areas of focus enumerated for the Shanghai event:

  • Copyright trade and international exchange
  • Publication and distribution, content marketing and promotion
  • Discovery and visibility for strong content
  • Promotion of reading
  • Merchandise and cross-industry promotion

One interesting program this year is called Connecting the City, and it’s an outreach effort, sending cultural activities from the fair to bookstores, libraries, early childhood institutions and children’s educational institutions in Shanghai.

A Visiting International Publishers Program is again underway this year, a fellowship program that will host 12 editors and publishers chosen from 152 applications representing 45 countries.

An Authors’ Festival has a group of writers confirmed, so far including Eiko Kadono, Igor Oleynikov, David Shannon, Herve Tullet, Serge Bloch, Mauri Kunnas, Joan Negrescolor, and Adolfo Serra.

At the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair 2017. Image: CCBF

Changing Times: Drivers of the Event

Following Reed’s announcement that it was ending its Shanghai participation, the Beijing International Book Fair in May announced what would become its first dedicated children’s book program with a 1,000-square-meter space devoted to the sector, emphasizing rights and licensing, in association with UBM.

Childrens’ books have been in play in the world of China’s publishing trade shows and book fairs, and BolognaFiere’s co-organization efforts in Shanghai can be looked at in the context of an expansion opportunity that opened in Reed’s departure.

BolognaFiere, you’ll recall, was also a partner with Publisehrs Weekly in the New York Rights Fair in May–announced, mercifully, to be moving into the Javits Center for the 2019 BookExpo so that that show’s rights-trading center will once more be under the same roof as the trade show.

The company says that another part of its contribution at Shanghai will be the provision of specialists in illustration, who will be there to take part in conferences and seminars “investigating publishing, the digital frontier, innovative thinking, the book culture and the pleasure of reading.”

At the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair 2017. Image: CCBF


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair is here, and more on the Chinese market is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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