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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 61ST EDITION OF BOLOGNA CHILDREN’S BOOK FAIR

1 Mar - 2024

The 61st edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair was unveiled yesterday during its inaugural press conference. BolognaFiere will host the world’s leading children’s book expo from April 8 to 11, along with its extensions BolognaBookPlus and Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids

The 61st edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF), which brings together the global children’s book community, will take place at BolognaFiere from April 8 to 11 2024. Its specialised extensions, BolognaBookPlus (BBPlus), aimed at generalist publishing and organised in collaboration with the Italian Publishers Association (AIE), and Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids (BLTF/K), dedicated to the buying and selling of trademarks and properties for children and young adults, will take place concurrently.

AIE’s President, Innocenzo Cipolletta, opened the press conference on a very positive note, pointing out that in Italy one out of every four books is published for children, and that the sales figures are encouraging in this sector. Moreover, there are more exports than acquisitions of titles.

Elena Pasoli, BCBF Director, presented the rich programme of the fair, which this year expects 1,500 exhibitors from about 100 countries with 14 new entries.

Among the most significant novelties was BCBF’s entry as a Patron Member of the International Publishers Association (IPA), the world’s largest federation of national, regional and specialised publishers’ associations based in Geneva, founded in 1896 in Paris to promote and defend copyright and publishing freedom.

An important collaboration with the United Nations has also been set up, which has led to the realisation of shared initiatives on sustainability, the seas and children’s rights, such as an exhibition of the best titles concerning sustainability issues and a collective reading of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, in which authors and illustrators from all over the world will take part, each reading in their own language.

BCBF also offers the new TV/Film Rights Centre, a business area created inside BLTF/K  with the collaboration of Book on a Tree, which will welcome audiovisual producers by facilitating networking with the publishing community for a more comprehensive book-to-screen offering. A space that will be added to the Rights Centre, which has been extensively renovated and open since the last edition to adult professionals and publishers exhibiting at BCBF and BBPlus.

The fair boasts excellent partnerships with a number of foreign markets.  Slovenia will be the Guest of Honour in 2024: Katia Stergar, Director of the Slovenian Book Agency, has announced the many activities planned, which will gradually be reported on the website sloveniabologna2024.com. BCBF has had a long-standing relationship with China for many years, also as co-organiser of the China Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair (CCBF). BCBF 2024 will have a 1,000-square-metre exhibition space dedicated to Chinese publishers, with many related projects such as the first edition of Chinese excellence in children’s illustration, an initiative that will have at least a five-year development.

The spotlight on Africa continues in parallel for the third year, with events aimed at bringing together the expertise of the publishers exhibiting at BCBF and the emerging African publishing industry. An illustration competition for African talent is planned,  culminating in a big exhibition in 2025. The trade show will also include a selection of Japan‘s top independent publishers.

The Comics Corner, which continues to expand and get positive responses, will feature special sections on a number of countries, including Slovenia, Canada and South-East Asia. 

Jacks Thomas, Guest Director of BBPLUS, the generalist publishing area, presented the 4th edition, which will include more than 50 exhibitors from 19 countries and regions, design exhibitions, a focus on India, competitions and a wide range of training courses for professionals, ranging from self-publishing to rights sales, from representation to author scouting. Plus Audio HQ, a site dedicated to audio.

The 17th edition of BLTF/K will also be packed with content and services: in addition to the exhibition area, where more than 1,000 brands and properties will be represented, and the events room for brand presentations, the Licensing Business Lounge will feature the new TV/Film Rights Centre section. The 4th edition of the International Kids Licensing Days (IKLD) will take place from April 8 to 10, with a three-day panel on the newest licensing and publishing trends, with a focus on gaming, artificial intelligence, and book-to-audiovisual adaptations. An important new feature comes in the form of the Licensing Portfolio Reviews, 12 sessions spread over three days and including an expected 150+ meetings between leading international companies in the audiovisual, gaming, toy, fashion and stationery sectors and young illustrators.

The BCBF promotes prestigious awards. The BolognaRagazzi Awards – BRAW

saw a record number of 3355 titles among the most recent publishing releases from 65 countries, including numerous debut works.  Among the winners were many Italians, e.g. in the special category The Sea Giù nel blu – Dalla superficie agli abissi: viaggio sottomarino sfogliabile, and Bambini nascosti, for the special prize The Extraordinary Award for an Extraordinary Book.

The BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award – which rewards publishing projects successfully developed on other platforms – selected its winners from 100 projects from 30 countries around the world: Sam & Julia. The Mouse Mansion (Netherlands) for the CrossMedia Projects category and MakeMake Digital Library (Colombia) for the Digital Reading Experience category.

The finalists of the Bologna Licensing Awards, the awards for licensors/agencies, licensees and retailers related to the development of properties and brands during 2023, will be announced shortly. The 182 candidates came from different European countries (Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Scandinavia) and other parts of the world such as the UK, USA, Colombia, China. Among the many categories, the new Best Licensed Sustainable Project was introduced for 2024.


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