By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
More Expansion for Bologna Book PlusAs was announced during Frankfurter Buchmesse last month, Bologna Children’s Book Fair (March 6 to 9) is today confirming that Greece is to be the first “Market of Honor” under the aegis of Bologna Book Plus.
This is another step in the parallel format developing between Bologna and its “Plus” program—termed a “brand extension”—that continues to add features of its own. The announcement today (November 14) makes a point of saying that the Greek market-of-honor turn is focused on the “Greek general publishing industry” and mentions that Bologna Book Plus is “the general publishing brand extension” of Bologna—all of that general-ness meaning not children’s books.
Bologna Children’s Book Fair is continuing to broaden this non-children’s-book-fair program as the Book Plus program goes into its second year of in-person programming, a fast-growing sidecar to the world’s most influential trade show focused on young readers’ content. Book Plus has a cooperative relationship with the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE).
The Greek focus is to include an author program; a collaboration with the European and International Booksellers Federation; a professional “matchmaking” program; guest speakers in both the translation and rights-training areas; inclusion in various illustration and design programs (of which Bologna has a dizzying number), and “cultural activities with consumer-facing partners.”
So in a how-are-they-going-to-fit-it-all-in mystery like this one, personalities count.
That makes it good that the core Children’s Book Fair continues to be led by Elena Pasoli, and the Book Plus program attached to that base event is under the direction of Jacks Thomas.
The familiarity of both players, particularly to regular traveling industry professionals, will become increasingly important, as Bologna Children’s Book Fair continues to evolve its non-children’s book fair.
Market of Honor Greece
Today’s formal announcement of Greece’s participation, in and of itself, is easier to grasp and welcome news. Greece is a market that already had undergone tremendous economic pressures, of course, before the advent of the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and many will want to welcome this rich Mediterranean market back to a more active role in the international industry’s gatherings.
The Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, in partnership with the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, and the publishers’ associations are putting together what’s described as a “diverse and lively program of professional and cultural events,” expected to be playing out “throughout Bologna Book Plus.”
Only four years since Athens was UNESCO’s World Book Capital, Greece will emphasize its two Nobel Prize in Literature laureates, both poets—Odysseas Elytis and Giorgos Seferis.
And Greece is putting new emphasis into foreign rights sales with a new translation grant program called GreekLit, designed to get more contemporary literature into the industry’s international markets.
According to figures in today’s announcement, the Greek publishing industry is valued at €1.5 billion, (US$1.6 billion). The industry is based primarily in Athens, but its annual international book fair is set in Thessaloniki. Its National Literature Awards, in operation since 1931, have honored writers including Giannis Ritsos, Vassilis Vassilikos, and Antonis Samarakis.
There are, Bologna’s organizers say, 1,500 bookshops in Greece.
In a prepared statement for today’s announcement, the cultural minister Nicholas Yatromanolakis is quoted saying, “Showcasing the vibrant Greek literary market as the inaugural Bologna Book Plus market of honor in 2023 is a great opportunity to share with publishing professionals and the world the wealth of Greek letters and the multitude of contemporary Greek literary voices, as well as a broader cultural program that will highlight both Greece’s rich cultural heritage and current scene.
“Having recently launched GreekLit, we believe the timing is perfect.
“We’re looking forward to working closely with Jacks Thomas and Elena Pasoli to provide a great cultural, business, and networking experience.”
And for Bologna, Thomas is quoted, saying, “This is an exciting moment in Bologna Book Plus’ development,” a welcome “opportunity to showcase the powerhouse that is the Greek book industry.
“Steeped in the illustrious and obvious long tradition of writing, culture, and exports to the world, it’s timely and significant that in a year that the GreekLit translation grant was launched, Greece also takes its general publishing industry to the global stage at Bologna 2023.”
Bologna continues to be produced by BolognaFiere S.p.A, which also is behind as many as eight exhibitions in the Asian arena.
More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on the international book trade and rights is here, more on industry statistics is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here.
More from us on the still ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.