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Another buoyant Bologna Book Fair

26 March 2018

The Bologna Children's Book FairThe Bologna Children's Book Fair or La fiera del libro per ragazzi is the leading professional fair for children's books in the world. seems to have been a liveley occasion as usual, with considerable interest in Middle Grade fiction and some reviving interest in YA too. Picture books are still difficult but there is interest in talented new writers and illustrators. Bonnier's decision to close down its Australian children's publishing arm was a real shock.

HarperCollins UK's head of rights, Carla Alonzi, said: ‘Publishers are saying there is a wealth of Middle Grade but they are struggling more with YA. Our properties are selling brilliantly-half an hour [in a book fair appointment] isn't long enough to talk about all of our books. People are generally very excited. In terms of territories, Germany has been good for fiction and Italy is buying a lot in general this year, while French publishers want to see new illustrated books.'

Many agents also had a good fair. Skylark Literary co-founder Joanna Moult said: ‘Submissions are better this year. The quality of the writing is better than it has been, so we are excited. Publishers are more interested, it seems, and everyone is in the mood to do deals-more so than [they were] in the second half of last year.'

Fiona Kenshole at the U.K.-based Transatlantic Agency said: ‘SF is having its moment', perhaps due to the success of the Netflix Stranger Things series, in which a quartet of friends fight demonic creatures that exist in another dimension which can be accessed through various portals in their Midwestern town.

China was the Guest of Honour at the Fair and, with 370 million children under 18, there seems to be huge potential. In 2016 the children's market grew nearly 29% and 15% in 2017, with children's books from international authors making up 30% of the total. The organisers of the Beijing Book Fair have just announced that they will be launching a children's book fair to run alongside it this autumn.

It's good to see that children's books are powering on - as usual with a highly international approach to their publishing and interest across the world in English language books from the US and UK. There's also rapid growth in children's publishing in many other languages, as publishers cater for the large numbers of children in their populations.

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