Bologna abandons physical events to go digital only

Bologna abandons physical events to go digital only

The Bologna Children's Book Fair has cancelled this year's physical events and will go digital-only owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, which will run alongside new general trade publishing strand BolognaBookPlus and Bologna Licensing Trade Fair, had already been postponed from its usual April dates to run from 14th to 17th June. Organisers had agreed to give two months’ notice of their decision on a final format and today (9th April) confirmed this year’s event will only take place digitally.

A decision was made as much of Europe faces a third wave of coronavirus, including Italy, where Bologna's region Emilia-Romagna is currently in a strict lockdown.

Gianpiero Calzolari, president of BolognaFiere, said: “Bologna Children’s Book Fair, BLTF and BBPlus, offer a home-from-home for the international publishing community to meet, do business and launch new projects. As international travel remains so uncertain during the continuing global pandemic, and therefore the presence of international participation, the painful decision to postpone the physical fair to 2022 was taken thus allowing us to concentrate on the extensive digital programme in anticipation of meeting in spring 2022 – in Bologna, in person.

“This sacrifice affects not just us, as organisers, but our publishing industry colleagues as we miss, once again, the opportunity to meet and do business. We are certain that the vaccination programmes under way across the globe, combined with necessary lockdowns, will be successful in preventing the spread of the virus once and for all, allowing us to bring back BCBF and its parallel initiatives bigger and better than ever next year.”

The fair had been planned as a hybrid with digital options central to all the events. Organisers said a comprehensive programme of lectures, illustration exhibitions, conferences, seminars, workshops and awards will continue to go ahead online in June.

Its Global Rights Exchange, launched last year when the event was also forced to go digital, has been redeveloped and includes new features, the fair said.

BCBF director Elena Pasoli said: “It is with a very heavy heart that we cancel the physical edition of BCBF, and its connected licensing trade show BLTF, for the second year. Despite our earlier optimism for an improved global pandemic picture, in order to allow our exhibitors and visitors to plan, we know that the responsible course of action is to share our decision at this point. As last year, we can reassure all our exhibiting partners that where refunds are necessary, they will be made. We are putting all our energies into the digital programme and look forward to welcoming everyone in person in 2022 for the 59th edition of BCBF with BLTF and the second edition of BBPlus.”

Jacks Thomas, guest director of BBPlus, added: “Flexibility is the name of the game in planning any event during these unprecedented times and as the transition to a digital only model has been key in our thinking. We look forward to getting the globe together virtually in June and face to face in spring 2022.”