Italy: Bologna Licensing Trade Fair Announces 17th Edition

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Often most easily identified by a large Smurf sculpture, the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair returns in April alongside the children’s book fair.

In the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair area of Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The licensing event will reach its 17th iteration in April. Image: BLTF

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

Licensing Awards, Meetings, AV, Portfolio Reviews,  and More
With Bologna Children’s Book Fair and its general-industry Bologna Book Plus program having begun their annual programming and marketing operations, yet another component of the annual events related to young readers in the Emilia-Romagna has announced its 17th annual edition today (January 24): The Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids runs April 8 to 11.

This, of course, is one of the reasons you may soon begin to feel you’re hearing about Bologna every day at this time of year. The multiplicity of sub-fairs and side-fairs means a growing level of announcements and requests for world publishing professionals’ attention, even as other events in other markets compete for the same visibility and with much the same tactic of layered branding.

The 2023 book fair overall—the trade show directed by Elena Pasoli—last year reached its 60th year with a reported 28,000 trade visitors and 1,500 from more than 100 countries.

The licensing show—which physically is set within the BolognaFiere complex—carries with it multiple events and repetition factors of its own. For example, this year the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids program will include:

  • A seventh edition of its Bologna Licensing Awards (with submissions accepted until January 31); in this sub-branding element, we find more information readily available in today’s media messaging than is offered in other area: jurors this year are to include Philippe Guinaudeau of the Brand Trends Group; Ian Hyder of Max Publishing; Helena Mansell-Stopher of Products of Change; Cristina Paesani, an art and fashion specialist; and Astrid Specht, editor of Toys and 1st Steps. Last year’s program awarded honors in 10 categories.
  • A fourth edition of “International Kids Licensing Days,” which presumably is sub-branding for the rights-trading meetings
  • A Licensing Business Lounge near the exhibition area and events room
  • A Spotlight on Audiovisual which is said to have a dedicated program and area
  • A licensing portfolio review program and carrying with it a sustainability theme with “special emphasis on the retail and fashion sectors”

As more information on these and other components of the licensing program become available, we’ll plan to bring them to you.

In the meantime, however, it’s worth looking at the trend among book publishing’s trade shows, book fairs, and other events, whether industry- or public-facing. Layers of branding become confusing, not clarifying, and the tone of many programs will always get shrill when one slate of events and its elements must compete with the programs and elements standing just feet or yards or even buildings away from it on the same dates, the same hours, and in the same venue.

This isn’t the fault of the Bologna licensing program, of course, or of any other primary or sub-branded set of events. But it is something for organizers throughout the industry to consider as those years’ of editions build up: could integrating the programming of a show be more effective than carving out its focus with deepening branding and competitive scheduling?

Licensing meetings at the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair. Image: BLTF

More from Publishing Perspectives on licensing is here. More from us on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on children’s books is here, more on the Italian market is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs 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.