Bologna Children's Book Fair 2022 - Successful Return of Leading Book Fair to In-person Formats!

28 Mar 2022

Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022 marked the successful restart of the event. The edition took place between 21.03.2022 - 24.03.2022 as an in-person exhibition. It was held at the Bologna Fiere in Italy with the event venue including the latest Covid-19 safety measures. Additionally, the event coincided with BolognaBookPlus and Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids. The two coinciding trade fairs served as one of the event's highlights. The edition received 1,070 exhibitors representing 90 countries and 21,432 visitors. More than 40 % of the visitors were from abroad. Also, the event received more than 300 journalists.

Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022 or BCBF 2022 was hosted as a face-to-face event at the Bologna Fiere in Italy. To ensure that participants were protected, organisers implemented several security measures. This included attendees having to show before entry a Green Pass or Super Green Pass. Such passes were valid if attendees had documents such as proof of recovery. Additionally, the venue had a pre-entry boy temperature check. Among the implemented security measures was also for attendants to wear medical masks. They also had to maintain a safe distance of at least 1 metre from others. They also had to perform regular hand sanitation after certain acts or tasks. This included after clearing their nose, before and after eating. The sanitation had to take place using alcohol-based disinfectants.

As mentioned, BCBF 2022 featured several highlights. Among them was the Emirate of Sharjah, who attended as a Guest of Honour. The honorary participants further included Yuval Noah Harari and Etgar Keret. Also, one of the pinnacles was an exhibition that focused on Indie Italian Publishers. As had been previously mentioned, one of the highlights was two coinciding events. These were the first live edition of BolognaBookPlus or BBPLUS. The second coinciding event was the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair | Kids or BLTFK. The Comics Corner and the Illustrators Survival Corner were also among the highlights. So were the Great International exhibitions of books and illustrations. The event furthermore included a spotlight on Africa. The BCBF Awards were also one of the pinnacles of the edition. So were the Open UP and Global Rights Exchange. The BOOM! Crescere Nei Libri's city-wide event was also a highlight of BCBF 2022. So was the Fundación Sm International Award For Illustration contest. The ARS in Fabula - Grant Award competition was likewise of great importance. The meetings and conferences that featured the honorary guests were likewise a highlight.

The BLFTK’s second edition took place as a coinciding in-person event alongside BCBF 2022. The BLFTK is an intentional event dedicated to brands and intellectual property. It was held for the first time as an integral part of the BCBF allowing attendees to overview the whole sector. The event combined the world of licensing and of children’s content for the task. It also allowed attendees to examine the latest trends. These include publishing, comics, kids' entertainment, digital and media.

The event featured leading companies such as Mediaset, Musgummi, and Mondo TV group. They also included Boing, Atlantyca, Hasbro, and Starbright. Paramount, Sbaham, and De Agostini Publishing also attended the rendition. So did lgt - Cool Things, Sanrio, Leoni, Bonus Marketing, Teentv, and Wildbrain. Santoro, Tf1 and Nbc Universal were likewise among the participating companies. So were Dea Planeta Entertainment and Mediatoon Licensing. A highlight of the BLFTK was the second edition of International Kids Licensing Day. The Day was available on 21.03.2022 as an in-person event and on-demand on OPEN UP. The Day was dedicated to the latest Children’s Content & Licensing trends.

Another highlight of the BLTFK was the prestigious BLTF Awards. These were granted for a total of ten categories. The Award lauds creative brands and properties that target children.

The winners were announced and honoured on 21.03.2022 at 7:30 pm at the Palazzo Re Enzo. The Gallery hall 25-26 were set up to showcase the winners. This allowed attendees to see them and communicate with them. The winners for each category and the cause for them winning is as follows:

  • Winner of Best Preschool Licensing Project
    • Baby Shark with licensor Paramount
    • Cause: their creative range of products with an engaging, lively, and playful design.
  • Winner of Best Kids Licensing Project
    • Poste Italiane for The Pokémon Company International
    • Cause: the originality of mixing two well-established brands in a novel way.
  • Winner of Best Teen Licensing Program
    • Peanuts with licensor Peanuts Worldwide LLC and agency WildBrain Cplg
    • Cause - The broad range of products that show how to maintain high-quality standards
  • Winner of Best Adult Licensing Project
    • Clementoni for Life with licensor Meredith Corporation
    • Cause - its distinctive design and branding of iconic images on a product type with a high challenge rate
  • Winner of Best Retail Project
    • ADOPT for Monsieur Madame by brand Mr Men Little Miss with licensor Sanrio and partner Adopt
    • Cause - the high originality of the product line that includes unique designs
  • Winner of Best Kids And Teen Fashion Project
    • IDO for Emoji with agent WildBrain CPLG, and partner Miniconf SpA
    • Cause - great usage of brand assets with brand-relevant categories
  • Winner of Best Adult Fashion Project
    • Benetton for Life with licensor Meredith Corporation
    • Cause - the beautifully developed collection and campaign combined with high-quality all-sector coverage
  • Winner of Property Of The Year
    • Baby Shark by brand Baby Shark with licensor Paramount
    • Cause - the impressive all-platform and all-major-categories expansion
  • Winner of Best Licensed Kiosk Project
    • World of Crafts with licensor Playmobil and partner De Agostini Publishing
    • Cause - the high entertainment value of the product that combines play with education
  • Winner of Best Licensed Publishing Project
    • Nina & Olga Publishing Program
    • Cause - the rich and well-articulated editorial development of a variety of products
  • Winner of Best Licensed Promotion/Loyalty Campaign
    • McDonald's Happy Meal “Schleich” Promotion
    • Cause - the style and effectiveness of the promotional campaign’s communication

Apart from the Awards, the BLTFK also featured several other pinnacles. These included the event organised by NBC UNIVERSAL and the "A look at the Japanese Anime World". The “Look” was organised by Starlight Licensing. It overviewed the latest news about the most successful manga and anime brands in Europe. Among the attending leasing representatives were Panini Comics, Toei Animation, and Starcomics. The coinciding event also included the Hasbro Roadshow 2022/2023. It was the presentation sub-event for the latest kids’ entertainment main leaders. The BLTFK also included a meeting organised in collaboration with Toy Store. The meeting topics included post-pandemic trends, toys between licensing, and sustainability. Among the speakers were Ivan Colecchia, Edgardo Di Meo, and Alessandro Bruno.

The BOLOGNABOOKPLUS or BBPlus 2022 also coincided with the BCBF 2022. It was the event’s first in-person edition and acted as an extension of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It is aimed at the general publishing sector. It aids in expanding the main trade fair’s reach by accessing a wide professional audience. The BBPlus featured an exhibition area as well as matchmaking opportunities. Furthermore, the BBPlus also included showcases, portfolio reviews, seminars, and a conference. Among the highlights was a training that taught about the basics of copyright. It also included the essential steps of selling rights. They also featured the Translation Forum which overviewed literary agent work.

There was also a day dedicated to self-publishing. One of the pinnacles also included two design initiatives. These were the Jackets Off and International Jacket Design: Best of the Best. Jackets Off featured portfolio review sessions. It additionally included a showcasing of international versions of The Handmaid’s Tale. This allowed attendees to explore the different interpretations of the contemporary classic. The International Jacket Design: Best of the Best presented book covers from six countries. It further elected a winner among them. Another highlight was the Author Ambassador Programme. It featured attendees meeting with renowned authors who participate as guests. For instance, the 2022 edition featured the English/French author Michèle Roberts.

One of the highlights of BCBF’s editions is the Guest of Honour. These are countries that attend as notable participants. They organise a series of meetings, events, seminars, and exhibitions. For the 2022 edition, Sharjah offered a diverse programme. This included events that featured over 30 native writers, artists, storytellers, and illustrators. This allowed attendees to learn about the country's creative potential and culture. For the task, participants could interact with notable books through readings. The Guests of Honour also included various meetings, including the Authors Cafe. Furthermore, attendees would examine two exhibitions. These offered samples from traditional illustrations to Arabic children's stories.

The notable highlights also included the meetings and conferences that took place during BCBF. Among them were the presentations with international authors. One of them was the opportunity to meet with Yuval Noah Harari at the Illustrators Café. The occasion was available on 23.03.2022. It featured the writer announcing his new pre-teen project. Another notable conference took place on 22.03.2022 under the name of Sala Suite - Childhoods on the Edge. It featured speakers reflecting upon the need to promote reading in “difficult” areas. These are locations where social inequality causes a lack of children's books. To counter such an issue, several organisations have mobilised to provide books. The speakers included Patricia Aldana, Alison Tweed, and Katherine Uwimana. The International Conference of Independent Children’s Bookshops also occurred on 23.03. This was a roundtable discussion that focused on the global comics market. This took place alongside many other related meetings. One of them, for instance, discussed how comics can help teachers.

Among the highlights of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2022 was the Comics Corner. This was a novel area for international publishers of graphic novels. Accompanying the Corner was a comprehensive programme of face-to-face meetings. These were held within the Authors Cafe. Among the themes featured in Comics Corner were the Italian and international comics. This included comparing different publishing houses around the world. Another theme was the sales of rights in the comics sector and the sale of such products in international bookshops. Another theme featured at the Corner was including comics in schools. The Comics Corner established its roles through vital partnerships. Among them was the one with Lucca Comics & Games.

A similar highlight featured during the trade fair was the Illustrators Survival Corner. This was an area dedicated to the illustrator profession. It was curated by Mimaster Illustrazione. The sub-event was created to meet such specialists' demands for professional growth. The Survival Corner featured over 80 appointments that focused on different professional aspects. This ranged from the design of children’s books to self-promotion. It additionally included managing interviews with publishers. It also featured contract tips, social media usage, and game design. For the task, attendees could take part in a range of masterclasses and portfolio reviews.

These featured leading experts such as Serge Bloch. They also included Neil Packer, Anna Castagnoli, David Carter, and Otto Gabos. Among the leading experts that attended were also Martin Salisbury. The Illustrators Survival Corner also included the exhibition known as Cattivi/Villains. It displayed favourite villains from a variety of illustrators such as Noma Bar. They also included Lorenzo Mattotti. The Corner further featured the Italian Illustration Lounge. This was a zone created with the aid of the Italian Trade Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This area was dedicated to promoting the creativity of Italian illustrators. For the task, the zone included hosting meetings with foreign publishers.

One of the most notable highlights of the BCBF 2022 was the Spotlight On Africa. This was a sub-event that presented African publishers, authors, and illustrators. Among the presented nations were:

  • Kenya
  • Madagascar
  • South Africa
  • Ethiopia
  • the Ivory Coast
  • Mozambique
  • Zimbabwe
  • Tanzania
  • Rwanda
  • Togo
  • Guinea
  • Tunisia
  • Benin
  • Nigeria

The Spotlight aimed to present to the international publishing industry Africa's potential. This included the continent's ability to be a source of new readers, ideas, and opportunities. The Spotlight included a few micro-events as part of its programme. Among them was the Innovators of African publishing, which took palace on 22.03.2022.

It also included several meetings at the Authors Café. One of them was “On programmes underway to innovate and promote African publishing”. Another such meeting was “Storytelling to protect vanishing African languages”. The list also included “On the role of governments in preserving endangered languages”. Another notable meeting was the “Developing African reading culture beyond the classroom”.

The Great International Exhibitions Of Books And Illustrations was likewise a notable highlight. This was a combination of several exhibitions that showcased the newest international trends. Among them was the 56th Illustrators Exhibition. It displayed the original illustrations by 78 illustrators from 29 countries and regions. These were selected by an international jury who had examined 3873 candidate illustrators.

Another notable exhibition was the solo showcase of Elena Odriozola, a Spanish illustrator and the author of the cover of the Illustrators Annual. This is the Illustrators Exhibition’s comprehensive catalogue. Another worthwhile exhibition was the BCBF 2020, 2021, and 2022 visual identities. These were created under the guidance of Chialad by three illustrators. The illustrators were Rasa Janciauskaite, Jean Mallard, and Sólin Sekkur. Another showcase worth visiting was the solo exhibition of Taiwanese illustrator, Pei-Hsin Cho. He is the winner of the International Fundación SM Illustration Award 2021.

BCBF for the first time focused on books presented during the BolognaRagazzi Award. It included a detailed exposition under the name of The BRAW Amazing Bookshelf for the task. It presented 100 books selected from a variety of candidates within each category. These were included alongside the winners and special mentions. Similar in intent was the Fluo - Lit Up Books. It was an exhibition organised by Cooperativa Giannino Stoppani and was dedicated to the fluorescent trend. It presented 130 books that were published during the previous ten years.

Another exposition worth attending was the showcase of wordless book projects - the finalists of the Gianni De Conno Silent Book Contest. Attendants could also visit the Indie Italian Publishers located at the Bookseller Lounge. This area presented books from small Italian publishers. Completing the list of exhibitions was the Il Bambino Spettatore (The Child Spectator) that was part of the Mapping. This was a four-year-long artistic research project supported by the EU. It focused on the relationship between early childhood and the performing arts.

Some of the most notable pinnacles of the BCBF were the variety of international prizes. These are meant to laud children and young adult book publishers. One of the prize contests to take place was the BOP or the Bologna Prize for the Best Publishers of the Year. This is an international competition that lauds publishers from six world areas.

Among the winners were Monsieur Ed, a Canadian independent publishing house. They earned the award for the category known as “North America”. For “Central and South America” the winner of the BOP 2022 was El Naranjo from Mexico. Founded in 1994, the publishing house has edited over 100 titles. These range from fiction, poetry and art to history, nature and classic literature. El Naranjo’s primary goal is to build its aesthetic. In doing so, they aim to contribute to the formation of creative and critical readers. For the task, they stimulate the reader’s sensitivity by addressing identifiable themes. Beatnik Publishing from New Zealand was the “Oceania” category's winner. The publisher has been enriching the country's publishing scene for over 15 years. For the task, they maintained a high focus on quality and beauty. It works with authors, poets, artists, and local businesses to publish books with rich content.

Another contest that was worth attending is the BolognaRagazzi Award. It honours the finest recently published on the international market illustrated books. This contest features four permanent categories and a special category for each edition. The four permanent categories are:

  • Fiction
  • Non-Fiction
  • Comics
  • First Work

The special category for 2022 was Poetry.

A notable competition to take place was the Fundación SM International Award For Illustration. This contest intends to laud new illustration talents under 35. The prize included a cheque for 15,000 Euros. It is meant to provide the illustrator with funds to create within a year an illustrated book. The book will be published and launched on the global market by the publisher SM. All original illustrations submitted for the event are presented at a solo exposition. The winner of the 2022 edition of the Award was Andrés López from Mexico. The winner's announcement took place on 23.03.2022 at the Illustrators Café. The jury consisted of three leading industry experts. Among them were Gusti Rosemffet, Alessandro Sanna and Pablo Núñez. The reasons for Andrés López receiving the award were the quality of their work’s composition. They also included its evocative representation of nature with a strong pictorial storyline. Additionally, one of the reasons for López receiving the prize was their use of a traditional style. This included the meticulous approach to details. Also, the winner received the award for their ability to create a precise, credible and engaging world.

Another competition worth partaking in was the ARS IN FABULA - Grant Award. This is a competition created by the school of illustration of the same name. It is intended as a means to nurture and support new illustration talents. For the task, it provides them with an opportunity to undergo high-quality training. This, in turn, will provide them with further credibility and recognition. It additionally helps publishers find new colours and styles for their books. Unpublished illustrators under the age of 30 whose works are featured in the Illustrators Exhibition can take part. The winner of the 2022 edition of ARS IN FABULA is Alice Ourghalian from France.

A notable highlight of the BCBF 2022 was its implementation of the digital dimension. This occurred in the form of the Global Rights Exchange and Open Up. The Global Rights Exchange is a platform dedicated to the international copyright trade. It is also a virtual platform that specialises in the distribution and licensing of publishing content. The platform is available all year round. It features a comprehensive overview of the industry through various functions and areas. Open Up is the BCBF’s digital area that contains masterclasses, conferences and workshops. These are available on-demand and allow attendees to grow by expanding their knowledge.

A notable highlight of the BCBF 2022 was the BOOM! Crescere nei Libri. This is a festival dedicated to children’s books and illustrations that takes place for a full month. It occurs in the month when the Bologna Children’s Book Fair takes place. It consists of a series of sub-events. One of them was an exhibition that showcased illustrated books provided by the Itabashi Municipal Library. These selections are based on Yukiko Hiromatsu’s book titled “100 years 100 artists 100 books”. The exhibition was available from 21.03.2022 to 16.04.2022 and served as the inauguration of the twinning of two libraries. Another featured sub-event was a that included three leading experts. These were Yukiko Hiromatsu, Kiyoko Matsuoka, and Nana Furiya. Another notable sub-event to take place during the festival was the Folktales Reimagined. It was an exposition that took place between 21.03.2022 and 4.04.2022 at the Biblioteca Salaborsa. It featured illustrations from the UAEBBY project. The project included 5 Arab and 5 Italian illustrators. They created images that depicted myths and stories from Italian and Arab traditions.

The 2022 edition of the BCBF featured 21,432 visitors. At a glance, such participation numbers do not seem significant compared to previous editions. Yet, given the uncertain global situation, such a turnout is decisive. Also, the event featured 1,070 exhibitors from 90 countries. It should also be noted that 40% of the attending professionals represented foreign countries. Completing the statistics of the edition is the high view count of the digital platform. Over 2 million views have been registered. 200,000 unique users registered with 61% of them being from abroad. Also, Open Up received over 1,100 professionals. More than 300 journalists attended the BCBF 2022.