Bologna Children’s Book Fair Joins London Book Fair in Moving to June

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

An even busier Bologna Children’s Book Fair than in the past is promised in 2021, with the addition of a new publishing conference called ‘BolognaBookPlus.’

At the 2019 iteration of Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Image: BCBF video

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

Pasoli: ‘To Meet Again as an Industry’
Announced this morning, the 58th edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair—the leading international trade show for young readers’ content—moves from April to June, following the earlier news of London Book Fair’s 2021 dates shift from March to June.

Running June 14 to 17, the fair is also opening what it terms a “brand extension,” referring to a new conference and exhibition “dedicated to the publishing industry in general”—though it’s unclear from the press release exactly what the scope will be. It’s called “BolognaBookPlus.”

That program is to have a “guest director.” The 2021 guest director is Jacks Thomas, who resigned her directorial role at London Book Fair in March after seven years in the seat.

Thomas is to devise her program with a team of coworkers in the United Kingdom, where she’s based.

The combination of Thomas’ proven skill in direction and the Bologna program is an interesting one, considering that London and Bologna are the two largest, earliest, and most consequential of the big publishing shows to have been scuttled by the onslaught of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Reed Exhibitions canceled London only six days before its scheduled opening, while Bologna first moved its physical show from late March to May, and then converted that event into the first large effort to hold a digital event instead of a physical one in the international publishing trade show space.

Thomas: ‘This Flexible Venue’

Details of what to expect in the summertime edition of Bologna and its new sidecar conference are scant at the moment. But by June, the world industry might be responding to what it has learned in its many months of digital events: less is more. This is true in physical formats, too, of course, and for many years the tendency of organizers to stack simultaneous events atop each other at major trade shows and book fairs has been a frustration for attendees and speakers.

Elena Pasoli

The digital space has brought this into new relief, as professionals are asked to stop repeatedly during their workdays and log in to one online event or another. Sometimes they’re asked to devote multiple hours per day to panels, presentations, and chats. In both physical and digital settings, the value of fewer well-curated and -produced events easily wins out over collisions of multiple activities, none of which gets the attention it deserves when fighting for air with other events.

It will be interesting to see how Bologna tries to pair what is already an annually over-packed trade show with yet more programming in a parallel conference.

In announcing today’s news about the Italian foray to come, Elena Pasoli, the longtime director of the Bologna trade show is quoted, saying, “We continue to work in exceptional times and the book industry has once again proved itself to be hugely resilient.

Jacks Thomas

“The children’s book market is arguably more important than ever before,”, she says, presumably referring to the educational and home-bound constraints of the pandemic era.

Pasoli says the date change to June will “give us the valuable opportunity to meet again as an industry,  prior to moving back to our usual time frame of April.”

Relative to her new role with the spaceless “BolognaBookPlus” program, Thomas is quoted saying, “Children’s publishing is the launchpad of so much and the gateway to so many avenues of innovation and audiences. It’s also fantastic to be able to work with talented colleagues here in the UK.

Marco Momoli

“Bologna in June is delightful and I very much hope that bringing the global industry together in this flexible venue will be a great opportunity to which we can all look forward after a long drought in European book fairs.”

For the producing body BolognaFiere, Marco Momoli, director of business unit culture, is quoted saying, “As publishing goes from strength-to-strength, so do we and our ambition remains steadfast in being the premium destination for the children’s publishing world.

“As the alignments between publishing, digital developments, entertainment, and knowledge sharing move ever closer” to each other, “we are enthusiastic about ensuring that we reflect that in our offering and are delighted to welcome Jacks as our guest director to drive this.”

Current Coronavirus Details

The editorial board of Bologna Today reports that on Tuesday (November 17), 360 new positive cases of the coronavirus were identified in the Bologna area through testing, “almost half of them asymptomatic.” New cases are being identified in people with an average age of 45. As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Bologna was in the northern arc of the original outbreaks in the spring.

Twenty-four of the area’s 48 deaths reported Tuesday were in Bologna, and the Emilia-Romagna region in which Bologna is set added 2,219 cases Tuesday in 24 hours’ time. The positivity rate cited is 9.9 percent, but that reflects a welcome drop from 17.6 percent on the previous day in an area obviously undergoing rapid community-spread fluctuations.

At this writing, the 4:25 a.m. ET (0925 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 1,238,072 cases in Italy’s population of 60 million, with 46,464 fatalities. This level of the pathogen’s presence has caused Johns Hopkins to rank Italy as ninth in the world for caseload and sixth in the world for COVID-19 deaths.

More from Publishing Perspectives on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, and more from us on children’s books is here. More from us on the Italian market is here, more on London Book Fair is here, and more of our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.