The Digital Road to Bologna: The Fair Expands Its May Online Edition

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Talking first of an online trading facility following its cancellation in the pandemic, Bologna’s 57th trade show now plans to do more in the digital space, May 4 to 7.

A shot of the A14 highway in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna, April 5. Image – iStockphoto: Giorgio Morara

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Exhibitions, Awards, and Even ‘Conferences’
Timed to observances of World Book and Copyright Day, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has today (April 23) announced an online edition of its activities, set to run during the postponement dates it had hoped would see a full iteration of the show.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the Bologna trade fair was forced to cancel this year’s iteration, first planned for March 30 to April 2 and then moved to May 4 to 7.

The industry-facing program, which usually draws some 30,000 international publishing professionals to northern Italy, has already announced that it will mount an online trading option next month for those whose work at the fair each year is focused on rights trading.

And today, its messaging to the news media indicates that it’s going to use those May 4 to 7 dates for a broad series of events online put together by Academy Drosselmeiar in cooperation with the Italian Association of Independent Children’s Bookstores.

It seems now that the program has decided to expand its digital presentation to include some elements of its traditional Illustrators Exhibition, with what the offices say is the work of 76 artists from 24 countries, juried as they are each year. The opening pool of submitting artists is said to have comprised 12,870 plates proposed for the show by 2,574 illustrators.

There’s even word of creating a digital rendition of what’s annually called the Wall of Illustrators—an actual show at BolognaFiere, of course—and illustrators have until April 29 to register and upload their materials.

In addition, the annual round of prizes from Bologna’s usual programming are to be handled digitally, including the Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year–one of the most prized honors in world children’s publishing–and a 2020 edition of the BolognaRagazzi Award, as well.

The fifth annual Premio Strega Ragazze e Ragazzi program is to be live-streamed on May 6 hosted by Loredana Lipperini, who will announce the winners of the two categories, +6 (readers aged 6–10) and +11 (readers aged 11–15), voted on by some 2,000 girls and boys from more than 140 schools, reading circles. and libraries in Italy and abroad.

Young translators are to be honored on May 7. And the program expects to stream a series of conference events, too, with activities daily in the forms of those ubiquitous webinars and Zoom sessions that now seem to compete for our every waking moment. It should be noted that even in the usual physical setting, the typical “conference” at Bologna is not the day-long (or days-long) event we normally think of but a large panel discussion that may last for several hours.

The whole effort is themed, no surprise, on books and reading, and it’s called “A Universe of Stories: Starring The Book.”

A good way to start taking in what’s being planned is to look at the live events listings starting to appear on this page. We’ll have more as things firm up, of course.

To those who had planned to be there in person this year, here’s a reminder to make hotel and airfare cancellations if you haven’t done so already.

Image: Artwork for the live events programming being put together for Bologna’s digital iteration


More from Publishing Perspectives on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, and more on the coronavirus outbreak is here.

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About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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