Bologna Children’s Book Fair: Italy Published 7,289 Kids’ Titles in 2020

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The Association of Italian Publishers participates in Monday’s Bologna Book Plus conference and shares 2020 book publishing and rights sales data from Italy.

Students at Lucca’s Palazzo Pretorio. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Ross Helen

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

Kids’ Books in Italy Were Down Only 1.3 Percent
With Bologna Children’s Book Fair having its formal opening on Monday (June 14), the president of the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) in Milan has provided us with a look at sales in the children’s and YA sectors in light of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the data sent to us by Ricardo Franco Levi—the association’s president and vice-president of the Federation of European Publishers—Italian children’s publishing in 2020 in Italy suffered “a small setback,” with a sales of €244.7 million (US$298 million), down by just 1.3 percent.

Overall, in 2020, publishing grew by 0.3 percent in the pandemic year.

Last year, for all its challenges, saw 7,289 titles for young readers published in Italy, actually surpassing the 2018 total of 7,221, but down by comparison to 2019, which holds the record for young readers’ titles in the Italian market, at 7,810 new releases.

“The memorandum of understanding signed last April between AIE and BolognaFiere provides that the two companies collaborate to promote publishing for children and young people in Italy and abroad,” says media messaging from the association this morning, “and for the development of new events for publishing throughout the country.”

The collaborative relationship with Bologna, in fact, is also to be reflected in December during of Più libri più gratuito, the small- and medium-sized publishers’ fair annually organized by AIE in Rome.

“Thanks to the partnership with BolognaFiere,” Levi says in today’s announcement, “we aim to support even more publishing for children and young people, which already has a fundamental role in our sector at home and very high rates of international rights sales.”

In terms of those international rights sales, the AIE reports these numbers in titles sold in selected years into offshore languages and territories, by year. The pattern shows strong upswings in the years prior to the pandemic.

  • 2001: 486
  • 2005: 468
  • 2010: 1,607
  • 2011: 1,872
  • 2012: 1,984
  • 2013: 2,029
  • 2014: 1,907
  • 2015: 2,140
  • 2016: 2,948
  • 2017: 3,175
  • 2018: 3,074
  • 2019: 3,256

A year ago on Friday, June 11, 2020, the Italian publishing industry launched its “New Italian Books” site geared to support the industry’s efforts at international sales.

Monday’s ‘Bologna Book Plus’ Conference

Students read in the Giardino delle rose, a part in Florence’s Oltrarno district, April 21. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Zummolo

The lead event singled out by Levi in his comments today is Monday’s full-day conference, running 9:15 a.m. CEST (8:15 a.m. BST / 0715 a.m. GMT / 3:15 a.m. ET) to 5:30 p.m. CEST (4:30 p.m. BST / 1530 GMT / 11:30 a.m. ET). The day has the plentiful title: “Forging Forward: The Pandemic – An Interruption or an Opportunity to Think?”

Ricardo Franco Levi

Levi speaks in the early minutes of the program, in welcoming remarks with Marco Momoli, BolognaFiere’s cultural business unit director.

With a price of €99 for attendance (US$120), a ticket to see the conference—held on Zoom with a recording available to July 31—also includes two “gateway event” recordings and other on-demand webinars.

In addition, Monday’s eight-hour conference includes:

A keynote by International Publishers Association president Bodour Al Qasimi and a speech from the IPA’s vice-president, Karine Pansa, as well as hosting duties performed by Publishing Perspectives columnist Richard Charkin, a former IPA president, and moderation of a panel on climate issues by Michiel Kolman of Elsevier, yet another former IPA president

Commentary from Allen Lau, the Wattpad CEO and co-founder who recently told Publishing Perspectives about the rationale for selling the huge international serial platform to South Korea’s Naver

A panel on innovative thinking, moderated by Sourcebooks’ Dominique Raccah and featuring Nathan Hull of Beat Technology, Enrico Poli of Zanichelli Venture; Veronique Fontaine of Fonfon; and Publishing Perspectives

Full details about Monday’s events, with registration information, is here.

Reading in Torri del Benaco on Lake Garda. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Ceri Breeze

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Italian market and news from its publishers’ association is here. More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more from us on children’s books is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here.

And more from us on the coronavirus pandemic 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.