2012 Bologna: focused and upbeat

2012 Bologna: focused and upbeat

Publishers have reported packed schedules at this week’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair, with digital dominating many discussions.

Random House UK Children’s Books c.e.o. Philippa Dickinson said she was back in Bologna for the first time in five years. “It’s great. The sun is shining, there are great books, everyone is very upbeat and we’re having huge interest in the books that we brought with us.”

Sarah Odedina, in her first year at Bologna as m.d. of Bonnier-owned Hot Key books, said: “The response has been outstanding. The fair is very busy; we’re having a great time seeing and buying new titles. There are so many exciting new projects.”

Roberta Chinni, project manager at the fair, said that actual attendance figures would not be given out until after the fair concludes, but that “the numbers are good, every event is crowded and the mood is good. What is interesting is that publishers are not talking about the economic crisis. They are talking about new projects and the future. It is back to business."

She added: “The main theme of course has been digital. Every digital event is oversubscribed. It dominates discussion.”

Junko Yokota, education researcher and a speaker at Sunday’s Tools of Change conference, agreed: “We’re all thinking of the exciting possibilities and potential downfalls and our roles in the digital world. The fair is capturing the theme that the digital world is here.”

At the ToC conference that opened the fair on Sunday, discoverability, a new “format war”, pricing, the growing importance of the education market and the closing gap between apps and e-books were some of the overriding themes. More than 350 delegates attended the event, up from 200 in its inaugural year.

In her keynote speech, Dominique Raccah, m.d. of Sourcebooks, told delegates about the opportunities in the digital children’s publishing market. She noted that the education market was being particularly driven by digital changes and publishers needed to respond.

She said: “Digital is really leading a revolution in the way that we 
think about learning. The classroom that we will have in 20 years’ time will not resemble the classroom we attended.”