Skip to Content

A booming Bologna Book Fair

8 April 2013

The fiftieth anniversary Bologna Book Fair was a cheering occasion. Eminent children's publisher Klaus Flugge, the founder and publisher of Andersen Press, was awarded the honorary citizenship of Bologna for his services to children's books and to the Fair. He has attended every Bologna Book Fair to date.

The children's book publishing scene is in good health in many countries around the world and this book fair plays a key part in that success. Not only have teenage novels such as the Twilight series and The Hunger Games trilogy contributed hugely to the bottom line of many publishers around the world, but books for younger children and the Middle Grade age groups are also doing well.

The decline of the Young Adult market has been much talked-about, but for many publishers it is still an area where huge sales can still be achieved with the right book or series, not least perhaps because of teenage purchasing power but also because of some crossover into the adult market.

It's good to report that picture books seem to be more in demand and Bologna is a great place to sell outstanding ones to an international audience. British publisher Faber has started to publish picture books again.

It is less clear what is going on in the middle age groups, where 6-9 and 9-12 age ranges have been somewhat neglected of late, but this age group is much-dominated by successful series and big author brands such as Jeff Kinney and his Wimpy Kid series.

Two new British publishers made a lot of noise at the Fair, Nosy Crow and Hot Key, the new Bonniers English language children's imprint. And both, interestingly, are deeply into apps, so the opportunities offered by the digital revolution are already preoccupying publishers. It's apps rather than ebooks though, because ebooks aren't good at reproducing the illustrated material which is essential for books intended for younger children, although it's probably safe to assume that that will come.

Overall it was a cheering Fair, with lots of interest in the books on offer and a feeling that internationally children's books were doing well. Writers aiming at the children's market should take comfort from this and from the expanding opportunities children's writers are offered around the world by the growing market and worldwide boom in education.