PRH pulls out of Bologna Book Fair as coronavirus escalates

PRH pulls out of Bologna Book Fair as coronavirus escalates

Penguin Random House will not be sending its teams to the rescheduled Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

The publisher’s decision not to send teams from the US or UK, comes after Simon & Schuster also pulled out of the fair last week, citing the health and safety of staff. 

Fair organisers announced in February that this year’s event would be delayed by a month to begin on 4th May following the coronavirus outbreak. The outbreak has since escalated in Italy and the government has now put the whole country on lockdown until 3rd April as it seeks to slow the spread. The Italian government has ordered everyone across the country not to move around other than for work and emergencies, banned all public gatherings and suspended sporting events, including soccer matches, Reuters reports. 

A spokesman for PRH UK told The Bookseller: “In light of the travel risks related to the coronavirus and our ongoing concerns for the health and wellbeing of our employees, authors, and partners, Penguin Random House will not participate in the Bologna Book Fair.”

DK has confirmed the statement also applies to its business.

Belinda Ioni Rasmussen, publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books said last night (9th March) it was “too early to say” if her teams were still going. She said: “We are monitoring the situation closely day by day and of course we would love to attend, but it is just not possible to confirm one way or the other at this point in time.”

Fair organisers are offering to reimburse the price of tickets for publishers who cannot make the rescheduled event in May.

In a note on its website, the fair said, “given the exceptional circumstances”, it was willing to reimburse the price of tickets if people claimed before 20th March using an online form.  

Last week, the Italian Publishers Association warned Italy’s book market had tumbled 25% with virus hotspots seeing falls of 50%.

The Bookseller has contacted the Bologna Book Fair for a comment.