Publishers, authors and agents have said children’s book trade personnel may have to choose between the London Book Fair (LBF) and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) next year, given their proximity of their dates. BCBF 2016 is taking place on 4th–7th April; LBF is scheduled to start just five days later (12th–14th April).
Barry Cunningham, m.d. of Chicken House, said the clash of dates was “terrible” and that publishers may have to pick one or the other. Meanwhile, literary scout John McLay said children’s publishers were more likely to go to Bologna. “Children’s publishers from Europe will always favour Bologna (if they can only attend one fair), so I would anticipate the number of international visitors from the children’s sector will be a bit down at LBF in 2016,” he said.
Vineeta Gupta, head of children’s dictionaries at OUP, said that while LBF has become more important for kids’ publishers in recent years, “Bologna is still the world’s specialist children’s fair . . . and I can’t see that changing.”
Author Jeff Norton added: “There is a drought from October to late March and then all of a sudden it’s Bologna, LBF and [Cannes screen festival] MIPTV in the span of a week or so. It makes for a crowded market season, forcing writers and producers to pick and choose instead of covering all three.”
BCBF has been brought forward in 2016 because of the early Easter period (25th–28th March) and so as not to clash with Cosmoprof Bologna (17th–21st March), the world’s biggest cosmetics fair. One alternative—moving BCBF to the week preceding Easter (21st–26th March)—was seen as “unworkable”, according to an insider from the children’s fair. BCBF owner BolognaFiere would not comment on its 2016 event, but The Bookseller understands that BCBF’s organisers are currently in discussions with “all the major children’s publishers” and will soon be working with small and medium-sized enterprises to discuss solutions that will enable exhibitors to attend both fairs.
LBF director Jacks Thomas said her company would do “whatever it can” to help publishers with logistics. “I should note that we did announce our dates for 2016 more than a year ago. With a venue like Olympia, which operates around 350 days a year, you have to plan ahead,” she said. “But it is not LBF’s plan to ‘get’ Bologna. Book fairs feed on each other: having a healthy Bologna and a healthy Frankfurt is good for LBF—it is in all of our interests.”