I was there mainly for the Bologna Book Fair. For those of you not familiar with it, here is a description from the website:
The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the most important international event dedicated to the children’s publishing and multimedia industry. In its 45th edition, the Fair offers more than 20,000 square meters of exhibition space with a simple, easy-to-understand layout.
In Bologna, authors, illustrators, literary agents, TV & film producers, licensors and licensees, packagers, distributors, printers, booksellers, and librarians meet to:
• sell & buy copyright
• find the very best of children’s publishing and multimedia production
• generate and gather new contacts while strengthening professional relationships
• discover new business opportunities
• discuss and debate the latest sector trends
I arrived with two of three coworkers on Saturday afternoon. We rented a car and drove to our hotel. The first thing we noticed about Bologna was that it was sunny and nice. The second thing I noticed was that there were a lot of colorful, little cars. The third thing I noticed was that there was a lot of graffiti.
We checked into the hotel, and then a colleague and I (it was also his first trip to Bologna) decided to get something to eat and explore the city a bit. We found a little outdoor place on via dell' Independenza. Here I am with my first pasta meal, appropriately tagliatelle alla bolognese. So good.
Later that night, we scouted out a bookstore, and of course made a beeline to the children's section. I found an Italian edition of Jerry Spinelli's Love, Stargirl, and found it amusing to see my name surrounded by all the Italian (you may recall that he thanked me in the acknowledgements for letting him use my name for one of the characters):
The next day we set up the booth. Here are a few walls:
After that, my time in Bologna was a blur of meetings and dinners. We were basically all scheduled for 30 minute back-to-back-to-back meetings from 9 am till 6 pm every day. The first two days I went to most meetings with our Publisher, with a few separate ones here and there, and then Wednesday and Thursday I had my meetings solo. It was exhausting, overwhelming, but awesome.
The exhibits were divided into halls, which were for the most part sorted by country. I think there were around 6-8 halls, but I spent most of my time in just 4 different halls--the US, UK, French, and Asian halls (with other countries mixed in). Our appointments had for the most part been planned with location in mind, but of course there were those few times where we found ourselves going to a meeting in Hall 25, then having to jump to Hall 30, and then back again. But despite all the rushing around, I think the people buying (like me) had the better deal--all I had to do was listen and say what I was interested in. The people selling have to sit in the booth all day and give the same sales pitch meeting after meeting.
All of the agents were regulated to the agent center, which apparently was in a new location this year. Many of the agents expressed dissatisfaction with the new digs, one reason being that they were up in the mezzanine, with no bathroom! I thought the windows were quite nice, though. But the crowded tables gave one the impression of a coral.
I met up with a friend and went off to Florence for two nights on vacation after the fair, which I hope to post about on my personal blog at some point (I LOVED Florence. Gorgeous city), but that just about sums up the Bologna Book Fair for me. I hope to be invited back some day! And just for fun, I'll leave you with a few food pictures. Oh, the food.