Bologna’s Finale: 75,000 Visitors, 300 Hours of ‘Initiatives’

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The second digital evocation of the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair closes with big numbers and lots of programming on video.

A shot from Bologna’s Asinelli Tower, with the Basilica of San Petronius and the Church of Santa Maria della Vita. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Adriano Ferreira

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

See also today: London Book Fair Announces Details of Its Digital Seminars

Some 16,000 Publishing Pros Were Seen in Programming
Next year between March 21 and 24, regular Bologna Children’s Book Fair  goers hope, they’ll be back on the cobblestones of Emilia Romagna and on the carpeted interiors of BolognaFiere. Surely no one hopes to again be stuck in front her or his screens, gazing at hours and hours and hours of programming.

However, the news from Italy this evening (June 17) is very good.

The world’s largest and most influential industry-facing trade show focused on the international children’s and YA book business drew at least 75,000 unique users to its programming this month, up from 60,000 people in its initial digital outing last year.

In a point of interesting irony, Bologna was the first of the major international professionally oriented publishing trade shows to “go digital” and London Book Fair, which starts its events on Monday (June 21) will be the last. They stand, during this long, hot, digital-dizzy June as bookends to what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the international book business’ customary patterns of operation.

Bologna’s team reports today that the show’s 300 hours of “scheduled initiatives”—which we take to mean programming produced by both the trade show itself and by exhibitors, vendors, and so on—were seen by some 3,000 unique users.

As many as 16,000 industry professionals were seen as speakers and other participants in those 300 hours of programming, some of it streamed live and some recorded.

More numbers, più numeri:

  • The fair somehow had 10 exhibitions in its galleries
  • There were 20 winners of international awards announced during the show’s run
  • There were 800 registrants for the show’s Global Rights Exchange, as its digital trading facility is called
  • That trading facility offered 21,000 titles and “180 properties,” presumably meaning something other than books
  • At least 240 young illustrators from 40 countries were involved in the 24-hour “Illustrators’ Marathon” on June 12
  • The digital “Illustrators’ Wall” had work from 900 illustrators representing 72 countries

Programming and exhibition materials are to be available on the platform to August 31.

Social media comments, the show’s folks say, numbered:

  • 61,500 Facebook posts
  • 60,000 Instagram posts
  • 13,800 Tweets
  • 6,000 LinkedIn posts

On a new memo of understanding, the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) partnered with BolognaFiere to promote Italian publishing abroad and organize “new initiatives for the world of books,” and the International Publishers Association also was engaged in the show, parts of the program in recognition of the IPA’s 125th anniversary.

Bologna Book Plus

Interestingly, there are no numbers being offered for the Bologna Book Plus offerings, the centerpiece of which was the opening 8.5-hour Monday (June 14) “Forging Forward” conference in which Publishing Perspectives took part.

Jacks Thomas

Bologna Book Plus is the newly added set of events (some not geared to the children’s book trade), which was guest-directed this time by Jacks Thomas, the former director of London Book Fair, who is quoted, saying, “Launching Bologna Book Plus in 2021 has been challenging and exhilarating in equal measure and we are delighted with the output which is a solid foundation on which to build out the offering even further as we forge forward.”

To see any of the Bologna Book Plus content between now and August 31, you’ll be asked to pay a fee. Bologna’s other voluminous content—that produced directly by the trade show—will be viewable free of charge.

In a prepared statement the overall director of Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Elena Pasoli, is quoted, saying, “Bologna Book Plus marks a turning point in BCBF history.

Elena Pasoli

“For the first time in our 58-year history, in addition to 250+ events at the children’s fair, in digital form this year, Bologna brought together worldwide publishing industry professionals, not just from children’s publishing, to discuss the key issues for the entire publishing industry.”

We’re reminded that the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah—which of course mounts its own international book fair again this year in the autumn—will be Bologna’s guest of honor in 2022 at last, after having to wait for its honor during two years of the digital interregnum imposed by the contagion.

And meanwhile, if you find a colleague propped up in a corner somewhere near a monitor searching for the next Bologna event on its heavily layered site, help that person to a bit of recovery, will you? London wants everybody back in front of the screens on Monday.

For your quick review, here are our stories on the 2021 Bologna:

More from Publishing Perspectives on book industry statistics is here. More on the Italian Publishers Association is here, more on Italy and its book publishing industry is here. More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more from us on children’s books is here, more on publishing and book awards is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here

More from Publishing Perspectives 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.