Bologna Children’s Book Fair – bigger than ever

India in the Limelight at BolognaBookPlus

Bayard Milan stand at the Bologna Childrens Book Fair 2024
Bayard Milan stand at the Bologna Childrens Book Fair 2024

Life is too short to read a bad book. – James Joyce

Hardly four weeks after the London Book Fair, it was Bologna’s turn to open its doors in front of a large demonstration for a cease-fire in Gaza and the liberation of all hostages, both those in Palestinian and those in Israeli custody.

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair was again configured in three co-located sections – the main children’s book fair, a generalist (non-children’s) extension under the heading Bologna Book Plus, and the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids. New features in the program were the TV/Film Rights Centre in collaboration with the United Nations and the Society of Illustrators in New York, and the Audio Forum, added to the existing Literary Translation Forum in partnership with app developer Beat Technology. Also new for 2024 was the Licensing Portfolio Review, an opportunity to bring together consumer goods and audiovisual companies with illustration and design talents to create new business opportunities.

In its fourth year, BolognaBookPlus (BBPlus) included the topical program India in the Limelight, with exhibition spaces, book jacket exhibits, copyright exchanges, and training workshops on rights selling, author representation, scouting, and writing and self-publishing. This year’s emphasis on the Indian book market was organized in cooperation with the National BookTrust of India. With BBPlus’ Literary Translation Forum returning for a third year, the centerpiece there was Taiwan’s book industry. 

The Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids (BLTF/K), dedicated to brands and the licensing of content for children, teenagers, and young adults, was held for the 17th time as an integral part of BCBF, with a Licensing Business Lounge and features such as matchmaking events for companies in the fashion and retail sectors. In a collaboration with Licensing Magazine, BLTF/Kids also organized the 4th edition of the International Kids Licensing Days – three days of in-depth discussions with international brands on issues related to content for children and young adults, from licensing to publishing, from audiovisual to gaming. Some of the topics discussed continue to be available online on demand, including digital publishing, animation, omnichannel retailing, sustainability, and toys.

Bologna Global Rights Exchange online

BCBF also has an online rights exchange platform, the Bologna Global Rights Exchange database, GRE. Powered by the international rights platform PubMatch since 2020, it has some 20,000 titles and offers exhibitors the opportunity to present their titles and brands, create and name their own showcases, search content and trends, and schedule and hold calls directly on the platform.

The system is open to publishers, agents, agencies, scouts, licensees, licensors, developers, audiovisual producers, and service providers. It is free to all in-person BCBF exhibitors.

With 1,523 exhibitors and 31,735 trade visitors, both a more than 20% rise as compared to 2023, this year’s BCBF has been one of its most successful editions. Among the 280 individual booths with exhibitors from Asia-Pacific, 24 publishers and distributors and 3 prepress and printing companies made it from India in addition to NBT’s booth; 79 publishers, agencies, traders, and 12 prepress and printing companies from China; 24 publishers, agencies, traders and 14 prepress and printing companies from Hong Kong; 40 publishers and traders and one printers association from South Korea; 22 publishers from Japan; 14 publishers from Taiwan; 33 publishers from Australia and New Zealand; and a dozen publishers from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Bangladesh.

Japanese publishing house Poplar, Asia’s Best Children Publisher of the Year awarded at BCBF.

Asia was also high on the agenda at the other two book fairs that were held recently – the Leipzig and Brussels book fairs. With 2085 exhibitors, including 445 at its Manga Comic Convention, the Leipzig Book Fair was attended by 283,000 visitors, both from the trade and the general public. At the Manga Comic Convention, several publishers from Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia had taken large booths. The Brussels Book Fair, with 380 booths and 75,000 trade and other visitors, had installed a large ‘Manga Village’ representing several Japanese publishing houses.

Bologna awards

As to the many awards at BCBF, the most notable to be mentioned were the Bologna Prizes for the Best Children Publishers of the Year and the BolognaRagazzi Awards. The Prizes for the Best Children Publishers of the Year were again awarded for six regions, and the award for Asia went to Poplar, a leading independent publisher of children’s books in Japan. Poplar publishes close to 500 titles annually, and many of its titles have been licensed to foreign countries. 

Three books from South Korea received special mentions at the BolognaRagazzi Awards – Atnoonbooks for its Mo Story, Woongjin ThinkBig for the book As You Drive, and Sakyejul for the title Rice Cake House of a Tiger.

Among the winners of the BolognaRagazzi Awards, aimed at highlighting the most beautiful and innovative picture books published worldwide, three publishers from South Korea received special mentions – Atnoonbooks for its Mo Story, Woongjin ThinkBig for the book As You Drive, and Sakyejul for the title Rice Cake House of a Tiger. 

Another of BCBF’s awards is the Bologna Licensing Award for agencies, licensees ,and retailers on an international level, to enhance the content link within the entire supply chain as the basis of success. This year, a new category was introduced, dedicated to the Best Licensed Sustainable Project, to reward companies and brands that care about the future of the planet through the development of sustainable consumer goods and projects for children, teens, and young adults.

The next BCBF has been scheduled for 31 March to 3 April 2025

In 2024, we are looking at full recovery and growth-led investment in Indian printing

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. It created the category of privately owned B2B print magazines in the country. And by its diversification in packaging, (Packaging South Asia), food processing and packaging (IndiFoodBev) and health and medical supply chain and packaging (HealthTekPak), and its community activities in training, research, and conferences (Ipp Services, Training and Research) the organization continues to create platforms that demonstrate the need for quality information, data, technology insights and events.

India is a large and tough terrain and while its book publishing and commercial printing industry have recovered and are increasingly embracing digital print, the Indian newspaper industry continues to recover its credibility and circulation. The signage industry is also recovering and new technologies and audiences such as digital 3D additive printing, digital textiles, and industrial printing are coming onto our pages. Diversification is a fact of life for our readers and like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in nominal and real terms – in a region poised for the highest change in year to year expenditure in printing equipment and consumables. Our 2024 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock – to emphasize your visibility and relevance to your customers and turn potential markets into conversations.

– Naresh Khanna

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