Bologna Children’s Book Fair took place between the 6th and 9th of March 2023, now at the sixteenth edition. Bringing together editors, writers, illustrators and book professionals from all over the world, the Fair is the place where the newest projects are being displayed, where great ideas are being exposed and debated, where artists are celebrated and awarded and where the professionals of the book industry are gathering to build new partnerships and renew and consolidate the old ones. Numerous Romanian editors, agents, writers and illustrators were present at the fair. Some of them answered our questions in the airport, while waiting the flight to Italy, with some we spoke at the Fair, at the elegant Romanian Stand, taken care of by the team of the Ministry of Culture, and with others while landing back in Romania.
Whatare your expectations from Bologna’s Children Book Fair or from Bologna itself?
Adelina Butnaru – Illustrator and graphic designer.
From Bologna itself I really wish to see Tipoteca Museum from Cornuda, Treviso. It is a foundry. The foundry was the workshop where they used to cast out the letters used for printing. From the fair I would like to grow my collection of imaginary cats and of books with cats. I cherish the idea of going to Venice, at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.
Andrei Damian – Designer and illustrator.
I expect to see as many books with badgers as I can, which would inspire me to make, as soon as I get back, my own badgers.
Lucia Ciocan – Copyright Manager, Editura ARC
I really had a cultural shock back in 2012, when I first visited the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. It was my first time attending an event at such a large scale. I returned to Chișinău overwhelmed. And a long time after that I was energized and I felt that I am doing the most beautiful thing in the world – bringing books that are published in other parts of the world to the kids in Chișinău. Not that it was a scarcity in that period of time, but, after you swim in a sea of books, you can’t just jump back in a pond. I think we come to Bologna every year to feel the energy of this place, the energy which gets into your soul and mind and revitalizes you; it stimulates and feeds your conviction that you’re doing the right thing. Not to mention that this fair is a unique source of inspiration. After a two-year pandemic and one of war in our neighboring country, which brought a lot of uncertainty in my field of work, I really needed this oasis of normality, this small universe in which the good and beauty rule, and where friendships are born and the greatest ideas are brought to life.
Florentina Ion – CEO and founder of Didactica Publishing House.
At Bologna Children’s Book Fair we’re present to develop our relations with our existing partners, to search for new ones, to look for new interesting ideas for books, to see what is the world-wide general trend, if there are any needs in the book market seized maybe by other publishing houses, and to select titles appropriate for that respective segment. At the same time, we choose books that are required by the needs of the Romanian market and we hope to find interesting and attractive things for our times and for this generation of children. Because it is in our interest that our titles tell stories from which the children can learn.
Marilena Iovu – Founder and coordinator of Marilena Iovu Literary Agency.
I came without a certain plan, I’m not looking for a certain type of book, but I would like to find books with a catch to them, so to say.
Simona Kessler – Founder and manager of Simona Kessler International Copyright Agency.
I haven’t attended the fair from 2018, and neither have I participated in other fairs since then. I’m happy to see my friends and clients again. The ice-cream, coffee and wine. These are my great expectations in this regard.
Bianca Mereuță - The founder and editorial director of the Signatura publishing house and the coordinator of the What we read to children? group.
Contrary to other years when I’ve been to Bologna, after a three-year break, this time I’m more slow-paced and try not to rush myself into spotting a book cover. I would rather chat more with people and try to find new ways to collaborate beyond books. I booked quite a few appointments, but I left some space for the fortune to do its bidding. Mostly I wish to talk with the stable partners of the publishing house and search for ways on how we can interact beyond books and what can we do more for education.
Marian Năpristoc – Editorial Director, Niculescu Publishing House.
I expect as many interesting titles as I can, new projects, to see beautiful people again, which I usually meet at the book fairs, and, in the end, to have some fun, besides the books.
Vero Neacșu – Illustrator.
I would like to see a few exhibitions in the city (like the one by Rébecca Dautremer). I have some meetings, but I am pretty relaxed, I haven’t come up with a very serious plan. I want to see the fair’s exposition. Now it’s not mandatory to send original works, but some [illustrators] still do it and I am quite fond of this. I am curious to see what new books have been published. But there are many beautiful exhibitions in the city; they are not well known, because they are not included in the official program of the fair. There are some gatherings and discussion panels at the Arts University.
Medeea Neguțescu – Foreign Rights Executive, Corint Publishing Group.
This is my first time visiting the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. As such, my expectations are pretty high. I want to meet new people, from other publishing houses and agencies, but also to personally meet with the ones I already collaborate and chat weakly via emails. I also want to hunt interesting titles and find new possibilities of collaborations. Besides that, I want to discover the beauties of the town of Bologna, and, most importantly, the renewed Italian food. It is well known that food unites the world, like an universal language and helps people to communicate better. Samuel Chamberlain well said: “The gentle art of gastronomy is a friendly one. It hurdles the language barrier, makes friends among civilized people, and warms the heart.”
Silviu Săndulescu – Founder and Managing Director, Rights Expert Licensing and Literary Agency
My expectations were a bit tempered by the economic global environment and all the chaos regarding the war, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the book market all around the world was reborn. Many people have a positive vibe and I had a lot of good meetings. It seems to me that we returned in 2019 in this regard.
Livia Stoia Founder and manager of Livia Stoia Literary Agency, manager of Ilustrata Agency.
My burning desire is to sign contracts on the spot, directly in the Fair.
Maria Surducan – Illustrator and author of comics.
The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a model for what is happening right now in the field of European children illustrations and I came here with many purposes. First of them is to see what contemporary illustration means, what are the tendencies and especially, the field of innovations. If you were to discover innovation in European illustration, the Bologna Children’s fair is the place. Secondly, because now I’m not as panicked as before, I did a bit of research and I tried to arrange some meetings with the publishing houses and agencies that seemed to fit with my style. This means I am here not only for the documentation side, but for businessas well. More, every year, the organizers set up the Illustrators Survival Corner, which I found it as a treasure of resources for illustrators: on the one side dealing with the legal aspect of contracts and management of this world; and on the other side, you have the workshops and master classes. You can always learn something new from them and your imagination can spark anytime.
Ramona Tănase – Rights Manager, ART Publishing Group
I am waiting to count on how many other streets I can lose myself while ignoring the fact that Google Maps is a thing.
[The answers were recorded and transcribed; the used photos were taken from the Book Industry archive.] [Translated into English by Edward Vasile.]