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Bologna Children’s Book Fair hosted 1,350 exhibitors

At this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), which runs March 6–9, there will be 1,350 exhibitors, just 100 less than in 2019, the fair’s busiest year. “It’s all very much back to normal,” says Elena Pasoli, BCBF exhibition manager. The biggest factor in keeping the numbers below those of 2019, Pasoli says, is that companies from China and Russia aren’t attending. Total attendance is expected to be between 20,000 and 23,000, compared to a prepandemic level of around 30,000.

BCBF celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, it has enlisted 20 illustrators to shape the fair’s visual identity. Each illustrator was invited to create landscapes from Bologna and portraits of people, which have then been amalgamated into a coherent whole. The result is a “potpourri of styles that reflects the vitality of the fair,” Pasoli says. She notes that the 2023 fair is important not just because of the milestone reached but because of the overall change in the character of the event.

The new focus on the rights trade is reflected in an expansion of the Bologna Rights Center, which will host agents and publishers representing both adult and children’s trade books (a total of 150 professionals are registered for the rights center this year). In addition, the BCBF is offering several training sessions and seminars related to rights, starting with a full-day event on March 5, “How to Sell Rights and Understand Licensing in Children’s Books,” chaired by Tracy Phillips, group rights director at Hachette Children’s Group in the U.K.

Also in its third year, Bologna Global Rights Exchange, a collaboration between Bologna and PubMatch, has completed its third year. The exchange was launched in 2020 when the fair was shuttered due to the pandemic. U.K. book rights expert Diane Spivey has contributed a new series of instructional and editorial posts for the platform.

For this year’s Illustrator’s Exhibition, 79 sets of illustrations by 80 artists from 28 countries and territories will be on display. In all, 4,345 illustrators from 91 countries and territories applied to be included.

In another act of advocacy, International Women’s Day, March 8, will be celebrated at the BCBF with a networking breakfast, a series of panel discussions, and a dance party organized by PublisHer, the international organization promoting women in publishing.

The BCBF’s second Spotlight on Africa program will bring numerous publishers from the continent for events and presentations to foster more global collaboration. A highlight will be the Book Dash, in which two teams will write, illustrate, and publish a pair of books—one in English and one in French—within 12 hours. The contest is based on South African publisher Book Dash’s publishing model, which was developed to produce diverse and inclusive high-quality picture books quickly. “The vision is that every child should own a hundred books by the age of five,” says Book Dash editor Zanri Kritzinger. So far, Book Dash has published 176 titles using its fast-creation methodology.

As this year marks the 100th anniversary of Italo Calvino’s birth, the Italian Excellence: Illustrations for Italo Calvino exhibition will commemorate his achievement, which includes 120 illustrations for his books, some of them preexisting and some new, commissioned by his publisher.

Source: Publishers Weekly