Skip to Content

‘Another busy, buzzy Bologna’

13 April 2015

This year's Bologna Book Fair reflected the strength of children's publishing worldwide. Although relatively new fairs such as the China Shanghai International Children's Book Fair are making ambitious strides in terms of attracting children's publishers, Bologna is unsurpassed in its appeal as the international rights fair for children's books.

This year the Fair attracted 35,000 attendees, a 15% increase from 2014, with 1,200 exhibitors from 77 countries. Amongst the attendees were a notable number of authors and illustrators and no less than nine laureates from around the world.

Publishers were reported to be presenting books about bears, lions, pugs, pigs and meerkats on their picture book lists, as well as imaginary travel.

YA editors reported that dystopia and paranormal romance were well and truly over, with fantasy and contemporary romance with a twist strongly in demand.

There continues to be a good market for middle grade books too.

Publishers everywhere were looking for something distinctive and original, but there was no obvious big book of the fair. Now that children's publishers are doing so well in many countries across the world, rights in children's books are booming, and have gone back to being strong in international rights after a few years when it was hard to sell them.

For picture books in particular, it's important for publishers to have a strong international co-edition to pay for the illustrator and the high origination costs. Publishers are still looking for books they can build into something big, preferably with a movie tie-in, and for series with very specific remits.

Emma Hopkins, MD of Macmillan Children's Books, said there was ‘a very positive mood' at the Fair, whilst Adrian Soar of Nosy Crow said his stand was ‘fantastically busy'. It's extremely encouraging for children's writers that children's book publishing is doing so well, but it continues to be essential to look at the trends carefully, as it's still a hard market to break into.

Mary Hoffman's Bookseller report ended with: ‘So, another busy, buzzy Bologna with deals still being made as we leave. It does feel a bit like stepping out of Wonderland.'

Inside Publishing on Children's Publishing

The Essential Guide to Writing for Children