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Co-edition credit crunch at Bologna
02.04.08 | Benedicte Page
Faber chief executive Stephen Page has warned that a lack of originality at the Bologna Children's Book Fair could lead to a "credit crunch of co-editions", as too many publishers chase the same subjects. Page said: "There is nothing breaking that is really new--there are so many series on princesses, fairies and horses."
Page's opinion has been echoed by other publishers who have lamented the focus on building existing brands rather than breaking new names, but the views have not dampened the enthusiastic mood for picture books, following BookTrust's unveiling of the UK's 10 Best New Illustrators earlier in the week.
Jane Winterbotham, publishing director at Walker Books, said: "It's been a very busy fair and we're really pleased with the fantastic response to our picture books." She reported strong interest in John Burningham's first book for eight years, It's a Secret!, to be published in the UK in April 2009, as well as in Polly Dunbar's new series, Tilly and Friends, and Maisie creator Lucy Cousins' Nursery Stories fairytale book for children of two-plus.
Francesca Dow of Puffin sold US rights to Lauren Child and Polly Borland's Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the fair, with "huge interest everywhere"; Child is to develop individual new picture book ideas with Puffin in future, Dow said, having signed a two-book deal with Caroline Walsh of David Higham Associates with the author just before Bologna. Dow also reported strong interest in new talent Joe Berger and his picture book Bridget Fidget.
Quercus has acquired what is being talked about as the big book of this year's fair: a futuristic thriller by New Zealand writer Bernard Beckett. Cheetham bought world rights in Genesis, excluding Australia and New Zealand, from Australian publisher Text, in a very costly deal, and sold rights to Spain, France, Italy, Norway and Canada.
Also emerging at the fair were details of Random House Children's Books new Australian imprint, which will be run by Leonie Tyle of the University of Queensland Press, with six books out this year and 12 next. "She is going to publish strong, literary, meaty titles," said RHCB Australia m.d. Linsay Knight.