Bologna at Frankfurt: An Audio Forum, Grand Tour, and Bestseller Awards

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Those busy Bologna Book Fair(s) rolled out a trio of announcements at Frankfurt Book Fair, ahead of the April show in Italy.

A view of the Bologna ‘Grand Tour’ exhibition at Frankfurter Buchmesse 2023. Image: BCBF

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

Three Fairs, Three Announcements
Amid the October intensity and energy of Frankfurter Buchmesse last week, April was on the minds of organizers of Bologna Children’s Book Fair and Bologna Book Plus.

The 61st edition of Bologna’s show is scheduled for April 8 to 11. And to try to disambiguate things a bit for you, there now are what BolognaFiere classifies as three fairs in Bologna’s development to date, the entire trio running simultaneously on the ground in April:

  • Bologna Children’s Book Fair is what Coca-Cola would call “Bologna Classic,” the world’s leading book publishing trade show in children’s and YA literature, directed by Elena Pasoli
  • Bologna Book Plus is more recently established trade fair extension of the show, targeting the general international marketplace with strong programming for the industry-at-large, directed by Jacks Thomas
  • Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids is a European licensing event focused on brands for children, teens, and young adults

And those three interlocking entities had three things on their collective minds at Frankfurt:

  • The Bologna ‘Grand Tour’ in its third iteration
  • A newly announced Audio Forum in association with Beat Technology
  • The Bestseller Awards, revived in association with Nielsen BookData

We’ll take these elements one at a time, starting with the already running “grand tour.”

Bologna Book Plus and Beat: Audio Forum

Beat Technology’s Nathan Hull and Bologna Book Plus’ Jacks Thomas at the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2023 announcement of the new audio programming plan for Bologna 2024. Image: BBPlus

In its second round of news from Frankfurt, the Bologna Book Plus program has announced that will debut an Audio Forum in April, in partnership with Beat Technology, familiar to many Publishing Perspectives readers through the work of Nathan Hull, who is the chief marketing and strategy officer of Norway-based Beat.

The Audio Forum has a date of April 10 at Bologna in its inaugural year, in the Bologna Book Plus theater at the show. The plan is for the forum’s programming to provide “a considered discussion of the growth and future of audio publishing, looking in particular at diaspora voices and podcasts.”

In a comment on this development, Thomas is quoted, saying, “Being a book lover in the 21st century offers a fabulous choice of media and formats through which to enjoy narrative, knowledge,  and commentary. As developments in the audio market continue apace, Bologna Book Plus is delighted to partner with one of the most innovative players to present a diverse, in-depth forum exploring the challenges and opportunities of bringing content to market across the world.”

And Hull, speaking for Beat, says, “Bologna Book Plus’ interest in the world of audio shines through. To have a dedicated audio forum underlines this commitment, and it does so at such an important juncture in the growth of the format internationally. With such opportunity and complexity in this space, having the possibility to partner with the organizers directly, and shape something informative, educational, and provocative, is a genuine privilege.

“The program we’re pulling together is exemplary and our hope is that attendees walk away inspired, energized and equipped with a renewed confidence in this burgeoning format.”

Bologna Book Fair: ‘Grand Tour’ 2023-2024

This year’s “grand tour,” as the companies like to call it, is set to make appearances in five venues.

It opened during Frankfurt Book Fair, and next moves to New York, followed by Guadalajara, London, and New Delhi. Those familiar with Bologna knows that illustration is, logically, a major part of its purview. The tour’s two-pronged intent is to develop the brand’s network of international partners and encourage participation at Bologna’s fair(s), of course, while also promoting Italian and international publishing, “laying the foundations for new opportunities for cultural exchange and trade relations.”

At the core of the show in this third peripatetic year is the exhibition Italian Excellence: Illustrations for Italo Calvino, curated by the Accademia Drosselmeier/Cooperativa Giannino Stoppani, promoted by the Emilia-Romagna regional administration, and supported by the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Touring with the Calvino show is a presentation of the Italian chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) called Honor List: Turn the World Upside Down. The main Bologna fair and the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) are founding member-organizations of the Italian IBBY group. the Honor List show features 60 titles that represent Italian releases from 2021 and 2022 for children and young people, selected by a committee of specialists in the sector and members of IBBY, in order to promote Italian publishing abroad and encourage rights transactions for its translation into other languages.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair director Elena Pasoli welcomes the Italian ambassador to Germany, Armando Varricchio, to the ‘grand tour’ exhibition’s first of five stops. Image: BCBF

Quickly, the appearances set for the “grand tour” are:

  • Last week’s Frankfurter Buchmesse, at which this program held a special position because, of course, Guest of Honor Italy is set for the 2024 Frankfurt, as was celebrated Sunday (October 22) in the show’s annual handover ceremony, this time from Slovenia to Italy.
  • New York City, October 18 to December 31: the Society of Illustrators on East 63rd Street and Rizzoli Bookstore. A panel is set for November 13 on this stop, with former New York Times critic Mark Russo, Drosselmeier’s Grazia Gotti, and illustrators Andrea Antinori, Irene Rinaldi, and Steven Guarnaccia.
  • Guadalajara International Book Fair, November 25 to December 3: the Illustrators’ Survival Corner produces this sit-down for the tour, with Mimaster Illustration and two panel presentations in the offing.
  • London, but on January 23, not at London Book Fair in March: an event at the Groucho Club called the Illustration Forum, again in collaboration with Mimaster Illustration, is to include two panels on art and design in publishing and how to approach a career “in the digital world,” promising “a well-known British illustrator and portfolio reviews.
  • New Delhi World Book Fair, February 10 to 18, a first time for the tour program to make its way to the subcontinent for meetings with publishers, authors, and illustrators.
Bologna Book Plus and Nielsen: Bestseller Awards

Neilsen’s Andre Breedt and Bologna Book Plus’ Jacks Thomas announce the return of the Bookseller Awards in England, with a first prize announcement set for January 22. Image: BBPlus

The most recent announcement from busy Bologna is that Thomas’ Bologna Book Plus and Andre Breedt‘s Nielsen BookData are reviving the Bestseller Awards, which are based on Nielsen’s data tracking services in the United Kingdom. You may recall that sponsorship for these awards was provided for years by a company named Specsavers.

A first awards event in this partnership—and the first in-person event for the awards in three years—is set for January 22 at Piccadilly’s Ham Yard Hotel.

Nielsen BookScan in London has tracked the British home market’s sales for 30 years, and winners of this contest are determined by consumer sales, as detected through Nielsen’s system. The categories, you may recall, are:

  • Silver: Books selling more than 250,000 copies
  • Gold: Books selling more than 500,000 copies
  • Platinum: Books selling more than 1 million copies

In reference to this announcement, Thomas says, “As Bologna Book Plus enables the showcasing, discovery, and international rights trading of books across all categories and genres, it seems fitting to partner on these awards that recognize those authors whose audiences and sales are the judge and jury, and which represent the results of the work done by so many industry professionals, to get books into print and sold at book fairs and, ultimately, book stores.”

And Breedt says, “We’re delighted to once again be hosting an in-person ceremony for the Bestseller Awards with our partners Bologna Book Plus. It will be an absolute pleasure to welcome the industry to the Ham Yard Hotel to celebrate and honor UK bestselling authors.”


More from Publishing Perspectives on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on Bologna Book Plus is here, more on Bologna Licensing is here, more on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on international book fairs and trade shows is here.

Now available here for your free download, our 2023 Publishing Perspectives Frankfurt Book Fair magazine

Our 75th Frankfurt coverage from our Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which has been available throughout the trade show in print, is also available for your free download.

The magazine has more interviews with fellows and grant-program recipients from international publishing markets, as well as previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.

There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.”

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.com, 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.