There were no less than six halls (buildings) which were each the size of a football field and each filled with booths representing publishing houses from all over the world. It made it seem like the ENTIRE WORLD IS ALL ABOUT CHILDREN'S BOOKS! LOVED that! LOVED the connections I made and saying 'hi' to trade industry buddies. But I was also unbelievably humbled by the amazing talent represented there. (These were some illustrated trees being auctioned off for a good cause.)
I learned so many things, though, which I'll try to share with you while I'm still raw with processing it all. (My brain hurts!) First, I saw what I believe to be a disparity between the showcased illustrations and the actual for sale, published books. What they say the trends are and what actually sells seem to be two different things to me. The market is the true decider. Buyers do have power, and wow, do their tastes vary.
There is as much demand for the more showy, colorful commercial books as there is for the trade books - maybe more. Although that market doesn't venerate the creators like the trade industry does - it's more about licensed characters, and they are POPULAR.
The booths themselves varied considerably. Some were big and fancy and some were small and humble, and sometimes it had nothing to do with the size or reputation of the publishing company. (Heck, Lawrence King, publisher of Johanna Basford's coloring book SECRET GARDEN was one of the smallest displays there - and we all know they have gobs of money!) Here were some of my faves:
I especially loved meeting people who I'd been emailing with for years. Some were people I haven't worked with yet, but would like to (and who happily recognized my name). And some were publishers I have worked with in the past and would like to do more with in the future - like Judy at Free Spirit Press. (This is their booth.)
I saw old friends, made some new ones, and soaked up as much as I could about books, the market, illustrative directions, and inspiration. I do feel like I took advantage of the book fair as best I could have. That said, I only went for three of the four days. It was enough, truly.
Meanwhile, I am trying to process all the great conversations and experiences I had. Any one of them would have been enough to keep my brain busy for days. I have enough to keep my brain busy for months!
Read all of my Bologna Blog wrap-ups at:
1. Bologna Children’s Book Fair!
2. Bologna – the Arrival
3. Beautiful Bologna
4. Sidewalks of Bologna
5. The Bologna Book Fair
6. The Illustrators’ Wall at the Bologna Childen’s Book Fair
7. SCBWI in Bologna
8. The Post Book Fair Fall Apart
9. Closing thoughts and out n’ about in Bologna