The 57th Bologna Children’s Book Fair, held from 4-7 May 2020 as an online special edition after the cancellation of the physical event, wrapped up successfully with 60,000 online visitors.
For the first time, BCBF opened its virtual doors usually reserved for the professional circle of children’s publishing to the general public free of charge, making its diverse program with over 40 events accessible for an international audience. The online edition attracted 60,000 visitors, 75 % of which were non-Italians, highlighting what Publishing Perspectives considers “an excellent balance of in-country interest to the international outreach”.
According to the organizers, 500 publishers registered for a total of 20,000 titles in digital formats. BCBF exhibitors were invited to use the Global Rights Exchange Platform, which aimed at creating the same business environment as in Bologna and will be working until the end of this year. 240 young illustrators from 47 countries participated in the 24H Illustrators marathon, while 2500 illustrators from 80 states decorated the virtual Illustrators Wall, which can be admired here.
The organizers also announced that the new platforms implemented were here to stay: BCBF TV (the broadcaster of the fair’s video contents), the Fairtales blog (the official voice of the fair) and the BCBF Galleries (the digital ‘museum’ of the fair which features the traditional exhibitions taking place in Bologna).
32 awards were announced online on this occasion, including the 2020 BOP, the Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publishers of the Year. Now in its 8th edition, the prize is organized by Bologna Children’s Book Fair in partnership with the International Publishers Association and the Italian Publishers Association AIE. The prize is given by publishers themselves to publishing houses which have “stood out in terms of their creativity, innovation, and the quality of their editorial choices”.
The 2020 BOP winners are the following, one for each of the six areas of the world:
For Africa the winner is African Bureau Stories (Ghana), a new children's publishing house that produces delightful children's books by African writers and illustrators for children. From Ghana to Tanzania and to South Africa African Bureau Stories brings contemporary stories from across the African continent.
For Asia the prize goes to Jieli Publishing House (China). Founded in 1990, JIELI specializes in literature for children and young adults. JIELI is committed to continuously exporting original Chinese masterpieces and introducing best-selling and classic works from various countries into the domestic market.
For Europe the winner is Camelozampa (Italy). Founded in 2011, Camelozampa aims to publish fresh and inspiring picture books and novels that help young readers in pursuing happiness, understanding diversities and becoming aware of themselves. One of its strong points is the rediscovery of international masterpieces.
For North America the winner is Les 400 coups (Canada). Celebrating 25 years of publishing, Les 400 coups is solely dedicated to children's literature by publishing eccentric picture books. Both fun and serious, Les 400 coups offers its readers an array of stunning, humorous, thought-provoking, and often even startling titles that stimulate reflection. www.editions400coups.com
CENTRAL - SOUTH AMERICA For Central-South America, the winner is Alboroto Ediciones (Mexico). Alboroto Ediciones is a Mexican independent publishing house. Alboroto’s books are meant to disrupt through images in order to get a reaction. Alboroto books tackle several topics related to social context: dictatorship, exile, disappearances, social integration, disabilities amongst other topics. As difficult as these discussions can be, Alboroto’s books talk about them from an aesthetic and poetic point of view. http://alborotoediciones.com/
OCEANIA For Oceania, the prize was assigned to Windy Hollow Books (Australia). Windy Hollow has been publishing high quality, literary picture books by Australian authors and illustrators for the past 14 years. The Company works with established authors and illustrators but also make it its mission to find and nurture new talent. www.windyhollowbooks.com.au
As more publishing events move to the digital realm during the current global pandemic, the 57th edition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair could provide useful guidance and serve as a source of inspiration for other online editions to follow.