I recently got back from Bologna, where I attended the International Children’s Book Fair. It’s a yearly event where publishers and agents from all over the world meet to show off their wares and to sell foreign rights. Illustrators also come to show their portfolios to prospective publishers.
As an author, I was there mainly as an observer. Like the Frankfurt book fair I went to in 2010, there are miles and miles of books, but at Bologna, it’s all children’s, all the time. Since it’s such a visual venue, the picture books are really the stars, but there’s lots of buzz about novels, too.
SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) hosted a booth with lots of activities, including regional showcases and publishing-related consultations. It was fun to connect with SCBWI-ers who came from all over. I met up with people from Germany (Kirsten Carlson, Angela Cerrito, Andrea Offermann) and other parts of Europe but also with people from as far away as Australia and Israel. Especially enjoyed hanging out with writers Julie Hedlund and Sarah Towle and meeting writer/ illustrator Suzanne Bloom.
I was thrilled to see all the gorgeous illustration going on around the world. More on that soon and a peek at Bologna itself.
Hands down the highlight of the trip was the SCBWI dinner/ dance party at Libreria Trame. Let me tell you, there’s nothing like dancing to 45s in an Italian bookstore with a bunch of children’s book peeps. I must be dance-deprived, because I seem to jump at any chance to bust a move.
One of the most informative events I went to was a talk by Kristen McLean, CEO and founder of Bookigee. She is also the editor of a Bowker study about e-book usage among children and teens and was summing up the most recent survey . Fascinating.
Teens and children are starting to use e-readers more, but the cost of the devices is still a barrier, among other things. And funny, the number of YA e-book sales doesn’t correspond to the numbers of teens actually using e-readers (the sales are higher than the usage), which means the buyers of said e-books are probably adults reading young adult fiction.
Another interesting finding: teens by and large prefer the multi-use platform (and cachet) of Apple products. This is really a no-brainer—now that I think about it, I can’t really imagine teens clamoring for a kindle, but it hadn’t occurred to me. Teens want to be able to do everything with a tablet, not just read books.
So it will be interesting to see what happens next, because obviously it won’t be long before the teens who want iPads will be adults able to buy their own devices. It reminds me of the race to the top of the video recorder market in the early 80s. Does anyone remember Beta? Yeah, probably not.
What about you? Do you use an e-reader? Which platform do you prefer? If you have kids, do they use an e-reader?