Sunday Stroll in Bologna

The weather was great on a recent Sunday in Bologna. I had a great time poking in and out of corners and taking it all in.

A gorgeous flower shop… and some of the towers Bologna is famous for

and some famous Bolognese foods!

One of the city’s lovely porticoes

Sorry I’ve been scarce lately. Between travel and working on my novel, it’s been tough to make time to post, but I have lots to share. See you back here soon.

Bologna Book Fair: Illustration Roundup

Want to see what children’s book illustrators are doing around the world?

As I mentioned in my last post, illustration is the main course of the Bologna fair’s visual feast. Here’s where you see, more than ever, that a great cover is a book’s best friend. The photo above is from the posting wall at the Fair, where illustrators are invited to leave their cards in the hopes that they’ll be noticed.

Here is one of my favorites, from illustrator Daisy Hirst:

I love the fun, playful quality of her work.

In addition to the posting wall and the many booths of books, there’s a yearly exhibition of top talent and a spotlight on a “guest of honor” country—this year, Portugal. I was so inspired by the showcase winners and by so many other illustrators whose work was on display. Check out the exhibition artists here.

Some links to blogs by/ articles about my favorites from the exhibition:

Alejandra Barba of Mexico

Jo Suna of Korea

Fereshteh Najafe of Iran

Anja Reiger of Germany (Berlin)

Katrin Stangl of Germany

Gerry Turley of England

Just as when I went to the Frankfurt Book Fair, I was struck by how many different styles of artwork there are across world markets. There’s so much exciting stuff going on in Spain, Korea, Holland, Iran, you name it.

I’d love to see some American publishers translate some of these books and/ or work with some of these illustrators. Most foreign book rights sales go the other way (English into other languages) but we’re really missing out on some fabulous stuff.

American publisher Front Street, back in the day, brought Dutch and French titles to the US market (A Day, A Dog, The Yellow Balloon, Little Bird’s ABC —all of which I love). But since Front Street’s passing, somebody needs to take up the torch. Is there a publisher out there doing this that I just don’t know about?

It was also interesting to talk to some European illustrators about where their work fits in best. One I spoke to had been told her work would sell best in Eastern Europe. Another had been told his would do better in Latin America or Asia. I’d love to see a map of what kind of illustration fits where.

Would you like to see more international books brought to the US market? There’s some dispute that Americans just don’t buy these books, but can our taste really be that monolithic? What do you think?

Bologna Children’s Book Fair

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?