Some 60 American companies, primarily small and medium publishing houses, are exhibiting this year in Bologna. Among the largest publishing houses, Random House says it will not be sending anyone to Bologna, while HarperCollins says it will send two people from its rights team and Simon & Schuster says it will send one. Chronicle Books says it will send three people, including Jack Jensen, president of the McEvoy Group. From Abrams, CEO Michael Jacobs plans to attend.
Among the other American houses in attendance will be Levine Querido, which won the Bologna Prize for best North American children’s publisher in 2021. It will be exhibiting alongside Querido Netherlands at a shared booth. LQ publisher Arthur A. Levine will attend the fair and host a meet and greet for debut author-illustrator Ellen Heck (A Is for Bee).
Longtime fairgoer Christopher Franceschelli, publisher of Handprint Books, says he “can’t wait to get back to the fair, because I think that good publishing only happens when there’s a necessary creative friction between authors, artists, editors and publishers.” His schedule is “definitely lighter” than in previous years, but, he adds, “I think that’s a terrific opportunity to go out and find new publishers whom I haven’t worked with in the past.”
Meetings and deals are a key part of the fair. A licensing fair happens concurrently on the fairgrounds.
Rachel Horowitz, senior director of subsidiary rights for HarperCollins Children’s Books, says despite the pandemic, “foreign licensing has been robust,” and her team adapted quickly to working virtually. Still, they “missed the magic that can happen at fairs, the natural conversations about books and authors, the galleys shared on trains.” At Bologna they have three days of meetings and full schedules. “We will also have two team members taking meetings virtually, concurrently, at home in New York,” she adds.
Despite the various challenges presented by travel restrictions linked to the pandemic and the fighting in Ukraine, Europeans—especially European literary agents—expressed the most eagerness to return to Bologna.
French literary agent Hannele Legras says her firm will be attending and participating in the French collective stand. “We are really happy to be attending Bologna,” she says. “Our schedules are filling in well, more than we expected at first. The publishers we represent, all independent and creative publishers, will also be there to tour the fair and get together with their international friends.”
Gemma Cooper, Amelia Hodgson, and Molly Ker Hawn, all with the Bent Agency in the U.K., are planning to attend and will be set up with two tables at the Agents Center. “We’re doing three days of meetings and our schedule is filling up, which is exciting,” Cooper says. “We weren’t sure how many international editors would be going, but so far, it’s a good number.”
Chiara Tognetti launched her eponymous foreign rights agency, based in Milan, during the pandemic. “For me, this is a very exciting time,” she says. “I cannot wait to meet international publishers in person again, physical books in hand. The fair always provides an unbeatable overview of how the market is moving. I know it won’t quite be the same as in pre-Covid times, but it is energizing to plan a physical book fair, and my schedule is already nearly full. Fingers crossed it all goes ahead—it will be a real boost to the international publishing business.”