The Bologna Children’s Book Fair has confirmed its plans to hold an in-person book fair, June 14–17, and opened registration for exhibitors.
Fair organizers announced in late 2020 that they were moving the fair from its usual April date to June because of the global pandemic. In announcing the decision to move ahead with an in-person event, organizers acknowledged "the general uncertainty that still abounds throughout the world," but added, "We remain optimistic that the vaccination campaigns to be rolled out over the next few months will be decisive in allowing a return to normality."
The fair is promising a familiar experience in Bologna this June, with typical programming, such as the BolognaRagazzi awards and the illustrators exhibition hall, for which the work of 77 illustrators have already been selected for in person exhibits. (The work of all 227 shortlisted finalists will be available to view at the fair's website.) The Comics Corner, an exhibition for comics and graphic novels, which was to debut last year, will make its first appearance at the fair in June. As was planned last year, the United Arab Emirate of Sharjah will be the guest of honor country.
As far as exhibitors are concerned, those who were registered for the 2020 fair, which was canceled, can use the fee paid last year for this year, and will also be extended an 8% discount on the cost of their booth. Should the in-person event be canceled this year, any registration fee will be refunded.
Earlier this year, the fair announced the launch of BolognaBookPlus, a new general publishing conference that will take place alongside the children’s fair. Bologna's website notes that this will include a general professional conference, a copyright training course, a translation workshop, publishers pitches, and a conference on self-publishing. BolognaBookPlus will also offer exhibition opportunities and sponsorships. This initiative is developed in partnership with AIE, the Italian Publishers Association. Details of this event are also forthcoming.
The fair is also expanding its virtual format, primarily in the form of its Global Rights Exchange platform, a digital rights trading platform which debuted last year. The latest press release from Bologna promised significant improvements to the platform, which the fair said is now designed "to support dialogue and international business throughout the year, helping publishers remain in constant contact and bridging the 'gap' from one trade show to the next." The enhanced version will offer better search, customized book showcases, chat rooms with translation and video conferencing, Bologna said.
In addition, Bologna has announced several more new digital initiatives, including the creation of Open Up the BCBF Skill Box, a "new, completely digital environment where professions, skills and cultures come together to create unique opportunities for exchange." And the BolognaRagazzi Digital Award has been rebranded as the BolognaRagazzi CrossMedia Award, and will honor works of transmedia publishing for "storytelling editorial projects for children and young adults have been extended into other media."