Thursday, March 27, 2014

‘Buoyant’ Bologna Book Fair bustles with activity

26.03.14 | Charlotte Eyre and Tom Tivnan - The Bookseller

The 2014 Bologna Children’s Book Fair has been “buoyant” and “noisy”, with hot middle-grade properties and an escalation of digital deals.  

Lisa Milton, m.d. for Orion General, said this year’s Bologna had been “the most buoyant and busy I’ve seen in a long, long time”.

Anthony Forbes Watson, m.d. of Pan Macmillan, agreed. He suggested the fair’s strength is how the children’s sector is perceived by readers: “The children’s market is healthier than ever. There is a mood of confidence accompanied by improving consumer optimism. This is a much noisier, populous book fair than it has been for several years with an exuberant co-edition market and a stable UK retail market.”

Barbara Marcus, president and publisher of Random House US’ children’s division, noted a shift away from recent fairs, which have been dominated by Hunger Games-esque YA titles. She said: “The difference this year is that there are more and more single-authored books. People are looking for strong characters and content; there is less dystopia. Even if the books are in a series, they feel like single books that can stand on their own. There is still a lot of YA around but there is definitely more of an interest in middle-grade.”

Louise Knight, international sales manager at Egmont, noted more optimism among UK and US publishers. She said Egmont was having more digital talks, but not for all territories. “In prior years there was a wariness about digital but people understand what it is now. English-language markets are interested in digital, but in the translation markets it’s less of a big deal.”

The schedule of Bologna—which this year falls just two weeks before the London Book Fair—has been an issue for some. Carlton Books design director Russell Porter, while noting a busy fair with “lots of interest from the Far East, Eastern Europe and the US”, said: “The closeness of Bologna to LBF isn’t great; people told us they weren’t coming this year because they’re going to London instead.”
A digital edition of The Bookseller edition produced at the fair can be viewed here.

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