Riordan gave news of Percy Jackson and more.

One of the busiest attendees at Bologna this year was bestselling author Rick Riordan, who was at the fair to talk about several of his forthcoming projects. Scholastic brought him to Italy to introduce The 39 Clues, a multi-platform middle-grade adventure series that incorporates books, an online game, collectible cards and $100,000 in prize money. Scholastic has world rights to the series, which launches on September 9, and at Bologna they presented the 39 Clues concept to international publishers, with the aim of selling it in the non-English speaking world. “Response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Linda Biagi, director of international rights. She didn't sign up publishers at the fair, but will go home and continue conversations with those who expressed interest. The appeal for the series is wide, Biagi said, because “it reaches kids in all the ways they live now.”

Riordan isn’t writing the entire series; Scholastic hired him to oversee the story arc, and to write the first volume, Maze of Bones. The rest of the books will be written by other writers. Riordan’s agent, Nancy Gallt of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, believes Riordan was the perfect person for the project because “he's a gamer himself. And his son is a reluctant reader. He wanted to get the kids who are into gaming to get into reading. It’s a double obsession perfectly satisfied.”

Also in Bologna, Hyperion held a press conference to reveal the first printing for the fourth Percy Jackson book, The Battle of the Labyrinth, which pubs on May 6—one million copies. (“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a thing,” Riordan told PW.) Hyperion also announced more projects with Riordan: a new fantasy adventure series as well as two books about Camp Half Blood, “which will continue our relationship well into the future,” said Jonathan Yaged, v-p and U.S. publisher of the Disney Book Group.

Explaining his busy writing schedule, Riordan said that his work on The 39 Clues has “pretty much wrapped up” by now, and he is currently finishing Book 5 of the Percy Jackson series, due out in 2009. “The story that began with The Lightning Thief ends with Book 5,” he said. “But much of the story doesn’t take place at Camp Half Blood, and kids keep asking me what happened at the camp. So I’m developing another strand of the story.”

In 2010 Hyperion will release the first volume in Riordan’s new fantasy series. Though he didn’t want to give away plot details yet, he said the series was “giving me the chance to try something different, to explore an idea that’s been tugging at me for a while.” After that comes the first Camp Half Blood book, in 2011. Though his schedule is tight, Riordan said that it’s “critical” to him to leave time for school visits as well. “Rick is extremely hard-working,” Gallt said. “There’s a huge commitment to getting books into the hands of kids.”