Following the cancellation of this year's Bologna Children's Book Fair, the fair's administrators, the BolognaFiere, are launching a series of new digital initiatives on May 4. These include a virtual book fair, complete with stages and exhibitions, and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Global Rights Exchange, a platform that will offer opportunities for licensing and other business transactions facilitated through

Despite the postponement and then cancellation of the physical fair, Bologna officials said they are determined to create a new offering for children's publishers. “We feel we have to keep on playing our role as the biggest rights marketplace for children’s content,” said Elena Pasoli, exhibition manager, BCBF.

The new rights platform will be open free of charge to publishers and literary agent exhibitors registered for the 2020 fair. Each participant will receive a unique log-in and dashboard, which will allow them to schedule and host meetings, present a virtual rights catalog, and offer PDF samples of books. Visitors registered for the 2019 and 2020 editions of Bologna will also be provided with log-ins.

“With International book fairs canceling due to Covid-19, the need to create new and innovative ways to continue the business of buying and selling rights is more important now than ever," said Jon Malinowski, president of Combined Book Exhibit and founder of Pub Match. "We are thrilled to be working with the Bologna Children’s Book Fair to create the first online Global Rights Exchange for all those who normally attend the spring event."

In addition to the rights platform, the Bologna Children's Book Fair will offer expanded content on its own online website, including a virtual stage for webinars, interviews, book trailers and a blog with news, information and guest columns. The fair's popular “Illustrators Wall,” where aspiring illustrators put up their business cards, postcards and posters, will be replicated online, as will the Illustrators Survival Corner, which offers special events and networking for illustrators. The Bologna Licensing Trade Fair (BLTF) will have its virtual stage too, including the Property Guide, which showcases than 600 properties tied to current trends in children's entertainment.

Organizers promise the new digital initiatives offer "the atmosphere, the content and the magic of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair" in an online environment. "Creating the BCBF Global Rights Exchange is not meant as simply a replacement for the fair. We mean to meet the challenge and explore new ways to expand our BCBF event," said BolognaFieri's Marco Momoli.

The full program of BCBF and BLTF virtual events will be announced on April 23, the World Book and Copyright Day, with a special digital children’s book exhibition dedicated to the pleasure of reading. Those interested in participating can go to the BCBF Global Rights Exchange online or by emailing

Next year's Bologna Children's Book Fair is scheduled for April 12-15, 2021.