For the second year running, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair offered a new fellowship for young international publishers to attend the fair. This year’s fellows are Benas Berantas, a literary agent from Vilnius, Lithuania, and Crenguta Mihaila Podolan, an assistant rights manager with Editura Rao in Bucharest, Romania.
As part of the program, the fellows visited the publishing houses Franco Cosimo Panini in Modena and Corraini Edizione in Mantua, and are participating in various conferences this year at the fair.
Berantas, 28, launched his agency last year after five years working as a rights manager and acquisitions editor at Nieko Ritmo. He says that his goal now is to promote new Lithuanian children’s writers abroad and create opportunities for this to reach the world. “We have a lot of talent from smaller publishers who have not before been represented, I hope to give them a chance to expand their audience and build their careers even further.” He has attracted 30 clients so far and has more than 60 titles available in his rights catalog.
Podolan, 31, is attending her first book fair, having come to the publishing business through her previous career working in human rights. She says she made the transition because “publishing really gives you the opportunity to do many jobs and once,” and she knows “the right book at the right time can really change a life.”
Both say they are grateful for the opportunity Bologna has offered them. “It’s a great way to get an overview of the fair and see it from a different perspective than sitting behind a table negotiating a deal the whole time,” Berantas says. For her part, Podolan is content to absorb as much about the industry as she can. “To many people publishing is something of a mystery, which lends it a kind of glamour, but being here a fellow here at the fair is really letting me get behind the scenes, get into some deep conversations about the industry, and really explore how things work,” she says, adding, “I express how grateful I am for the opportunity to be here and to get a bigger picture. It’s just wonderful.”